Around 10 years ago, SUVs suddenly became the go-to vehicle, as car buyers demanded more space, more comfort, more versatility and a more commanding driving position.
The seven-seat SUV allowed drivers to include the family plus some more, and the models quickly grew among car buyers who didn’t want to compromise space or ability in their cars.
We got out and about in the all-new 2015 Kia Sorento Platinum to test whether the new model can beat the competition in a hotly contested segment.
The flagship model Sorento Platinum is loaded with kit on the inside, with two-tone leather seats, exclusive to the top-of-the-line models, the most immediately noticeable. When you get in, you’ll notice that the Sorento has helpful beeps and alerts, starting with a welcome tone when you enter the vehicle.
The electronic parking brake is alarmingly easy to use; you will realise how ridiculous traditional parking brakes are, especially with the Sorento’s Automatic Vehicle Hold (AVH) function, which effortlessly holds the big SUV (with a gross weight of over 2.6 tonnes) in place. AVH is a fantastic feature for people who are parking on sharp angles or grades and the hill-start assist control (HAC) prevents your Sorento from rolling backwards.
The voice of the navigation will become familiar if you have a lead foot, as an authoritative voice warns you ‘You Are Over The Speed Limit’ when you get a little eager with the throttle. It’s certainly a stern warning, and helpful if you’re in a rush to be reminded, especially as the turbo diesels quiet power delivery can surprise you with just how fast you’re going.
The diesel has no problem delivering power, coming in smooth waves, although you do have to adjust your driving style thanks to the ‘organ pedal’ accelerator which is attached to the floor, which makes placing the centre of your foot on the pedal a little different to a regular car.
On the road, the Sorento is sprightly without losing its SUV presence. Taking it onto the highway, it excels at speed feeling solid, but somehow gliding past any traffic with ease of a smaller car.
Riding on 19” alloys, the Sorento Platinum sticks confidently to the road, you never feel overwhelmed when manoeuvring it around from suburban streets to stretches of freeways. There is no evident body roll on corners, thanks to the squat profile of the Sorento keeping it more in touch with the road.
The vehicles active safety features are constantly on watch in the Platinum to tell you what’s going on at any point around the vehicle. Blind spot detection will check for approaching cars, while the Lane Departure Warning System can detect if you’re drifting outside the lines that may cause a crash. It’s not perfect, moving around cyclists or cars parked on narrow streets will alert that you’ve left the lane, but thankfully, the system is relatively unobtrusive to your drive – giving a gentle beep and a warning light in your digital display to let you know that you’re not where it thinks you’re supposed to be.
This leads to a SUV that rises to the top of seven-seat offerings available on the market, serving a premium offering in a segment where manufacturers cannot risk providing a half-baked option to especially discerning customers.
It helps that the Sorento is packed with standard features, not just in the Platinum but across the entire model line-up. Standard across the Sorento range is cruise control, digital speedometer, satellite navigation with 7” full colour touch screen and dual-zone climate control air conditioning.
The Platinum adds to this with Smart Cruise Control (which uses radar to ‘see’ the traffic and adjust your speed accordingly), power-adjustable, ventilated and heated front seats, auto defog system, hands-free powered tailgate and a panoramic glass sunroof just to name a few of the luxuries loaded into the flagship Sorento.
Comfort and convenience is the modus operandi of the Sorento, and the Platinum is up to its ears in kit. The 10-speaker Infinity by Harman Kardon audio system can blast the wax out of your ears with clear sound quality at every point in the cabin; fortunately, speed dependent volume control helps to regulate sound so that the audio system (including navigation) doesn’t become too loud when you’re idle and too soft when you’re travelling.
The level of personalisation to features in the Sorento is a highlight, particularly in the Platinum. Don’t like the alerts about your speed? The Sorento can turn them off. Always arguing over moving the driver’s seat? The Platinum can memorise two seat positions and will automatically move into position when you get in and start the car.
Even the powered tailgate can be set to automatically as you approach with the key, and set to your height so that it’s as simple as possible for you to get in and start driving.
The Sorento can also boast that it’s currently the safest SUV on sale in Australia, with a score of 36.62 out of 37 in the ANCAP safety crash testing. This equals a 5 star ANCAP safety rating, thanks to a full suite of active and passive safety measures including anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, six airbags, impact sensing auto door unlocking and front and rear parking sensors.
Fuel usage is excellent – particularly in the diesel – remembering that at 2.6 tonnes gross, then adding passengers, this is a not a light vehicle. Kia claims a combined fuel cycle of 9.9L/100km in the petrols, coming down to 7.8L in the diesel. In urban testing, Kia claims 13.5L/100km in the petrol and 10.1L in the diesel, around town in our Platinum, we managed to get to 10.9L/100km right in the heart of the city, lowering to 8.7L with a stretch of highway in front of the Sorento.
Premium paint is available at additional cost. Diesel is an additional option on Si and SLi grade Sorento’s, and the only engine choice on the Platinum.
The Sorento is, of course, covered by 7-year, unlimited kilometre warranty with 7 years capped price servicing and 7 years roadside assist which allows you to budget for a considerable portion of ownership. See Motorama Kia for exact pricing on petrol and diesel models, as they differ on scheduled servicing costs.
The all-new Sorento comes to strengthen the Korean brands line up; joining restyled and updated models of the Rio, Cerato, Carnival and soon the new Optima. Where Kia was once the domain of the cheap & cheerful, it has emerged as a major player with a sophisticated product line up, which now boasts an all-new, ultra safe, stylish full size 7-seat SUV with an embarrassment of standard features to make your drive as effortless and engaging as possible.
The Sorento is in stock at Motorama Kia now, so visit Moorooka or Browns Plains to speak with the team about the safest SUV available, and test the updated features for yourself.