There’s not a lot in an automobile that fazes me.
As technology has advanced, I’ve usually embraced it. However, I was very reluctant to use the remote control function in Kia’s new Sorento.
Put simply, you can drive the Sorento autonomously from the outside. Say it is jammed into a car park and you can’t access the driver’s door, you can start the vehicle with the key remote and drive it out of the car park. It will stop if it detects an object.
While I applaud the concept and it is rather amazing, it just doesn’t seem natural for someone who always likes to be in total control behind the wheel.
That’s just one of the many clever features in the new Sorento; it’s fair to say, though, that that function is only available in the top spec Premium model – as evaluated. The Sorento Premium could well be described as a premium car, it is a big sport utility vehicle absolutely crammed with features and built with high quality trim materials.
The Sorento for 2021 is all-new. The fourth-generation model has a new platform, new engine and new styling, it’s quite a departure from its predecessor. However, none of the changes have altered the concept of Sorento because, as mentioned, it is big and fulfils many roles.
There are four models in the range starting at $59,990, the Premium tops out at $76,990, with an EX sitting at $63,990 and Deluxe $69,990.
All variants are powered by a 2.2-litre diesel engine. Regular readers will remember that I wrote with enthusiasm about the R-Series diesel unit that powered Sorentos of the past. Well, that engine is gone, the new Smartstream diesel is a totally new development; as opposed to the iron-block R-Series, the newcomer is all aluminium and, of course, it has the benefit of being much lighter as well as having a heightened awareness around smooth and quiet operation. It is also incredibly efficient.
Kia’s claims for the diesel are 148kW and 440Nm, both pumping out at low engine revolutions 3800rpm and 1750-2750rpm for torque. It is also rated with an inspiring 6.1l/100km combined cycle fuel usage average. The latter figure is no hurdle, during my highway run the readouts were listing at an amazing 4.5l/100km instantaneously at 100km/h (engine speed 1600rpm).
When I returned the Sorento back to the dealership it was showing a 7.5l/100km combined average, which I thought was very respectable given the Premium spec model weighs in rather tubby at close to two-tonne.
The other benefit is that of its 67-litre fuel tank, when I picked up the car it was showing a distance to empty figure of 850km, that would stretch if a long highway run was planned.
That’s the benefit of diesel, economy is spectacular and you lose nothing in the way of performance. The Sorento will accelerate to 100km/h from a standstill in 8.9sec along with 6sec to make 80-120km/h. The latter figure has the benefit of that fabulous mid-range torque that big turbocharged diesel engines offer, response is lively and forceful, and those who can’t get their heads around diesel power don’t know what they are missing out on, the Sorento’s performance is fabulous.
The engine something special, the way it drives through an eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission also contributes to the feel of sophistication. It, too, is smooth and quick to change. If you feel like overriding the changes or shift protocols, paddle-shifters allow you to do that.
Not only does the new Sorento look smart and have power on its side, so does it cover distance and handle well beyond its design brief. Kia’s engineers have also placed a greater emphasis on the four-wheel-drive mechanicals, the potential to travel cross-country has been enhanced, there are several drive modes that can be pre-selected depending on the surface ahead.
The Sorento is all about transporting your family in comfort. The newcomer is larger than before, and the interior layout has been designed so that it is more practical than before. It is a genuine seven-seater, and for those assigned to the rear row, that area has been made even more spacious with easier access.
Cargo space is generous, with the two rear rows folded there is up to 2011-litres available. With the rear rows in place 187-litres and 821-litres are available. In Premium form rich black leather is used as seat trim material.
As you would expect, the new Sorento also has a higher level of fitment; comfort and convenience items abound, and while column space doesn’t allow major detailing, I must mention the large, wide central display panel/touch screen the functions and its capability are deep. Also, the Sorento has a significant number of new safety features.
The Sorento has been a popular and important model for Kia New Zealand. It also has global popularity and Kia, as a manufacturer, has recognised that it needed to change with the times. That has certainly happened, and Kia won’t be sitting back resting on the success of the newcomer. The engineering changes that have been made to the fourth-generation model allow flexibility, soon there will be hybrid and plug-in models landing.
It’s been a busy couple of years for Kia NZ, it has landed a succession of new models, and judging by the information coming out of the company, there are more exciting models on their way. If the Sorento is anything to go by, the Kia faithful will be well rewarded and those who do buy into the brand won’t be disappointed.
- Ross Kiddie