It must be a real worry for our three local manufacturers to look at or drive something like the new Kia Sorento because it's so... easy. Easy to drive, easy to live with, easy to look at and easy on your body thanks to high comfort levels.
It's also easy on your pocket if you chose a vehicle like the one we just drove - the front wheel drive , 3.5-litre, V6, petrol Sorento SLi. It sells for $40,490 and offers plenty of value for the ask.
The SLi model we drove is mid-spec and scores plenty of kit including leather upholstery, Kia's clever Flex-steer three mode steering system, 18-inch alloys with a full-size spare, a five star crash rating, reverse camera and parking sensors front and rear, auto headlights, and LED daytime running lights among an extensive list of goodies.
The engine is a pearl, silky smooth, plenty of kick and relatively light on fuel if you're cruisin'. It's good for 204kW/335Nm output and boasts plenty of technology including dual variable valve timing and other trickery but no direct fuel injection - yet.
Drive goes to the front wheels through a six-speed conventional auto with sequential shift mode. Sometimes the front wheels spin if you plant the right foot from the lights but the stability control nips that in the bud. That's about the only criticism with the Sorento's drive train.
Fuel use can get up around the 12.0 mark but sub 10.0 is attainable without trying too hard. It must be remembered this is an 1831kg medium large SUV.
It looks good from all angles particularly with the styling refresh from last year.
But what's it like to drive? In short, impressive, especially given the price. Sorento is a good size for multiple uses including family wagon duties, commuting, long distance touring and is easy to park.
The load space is large without folding the rear seats which doubles its size when down. It has a good ride somewhere between sporty and supple but the height is an issue if you push hard - just like most vehicles in this class.
It's rated at up to 2.0-tonnes towing capacity braked but we reckon that's optimistic with a front wheel drive.
Would we own one of these vehicles? Without hesitation, preferably in a diesel except for the fact that you can't get front wheel drive Sorento with the diesel. Bit of a bugger actually but that may change down the track.
Price: from $37,490
Warranty: 5 years/unlimited km
Service interval: 15,000km/12 months
Safety rating: 5 star ANCAP
Spare: full size
Engine: 3.5-litre 204kW/335Nm V6 petrol; 2.2-litre 145kW/421Nm (436Nm auto) 4-cylinder diesel
Transmission: 6-speed auto, 6-speed manual, FWD/4WD
Body: 4.6m (L); 1.8m (w); 1.5m (h)
Thirst: 9.8L/100km (diesel 6.6 man, 7.3 auto); CO2 235g/km (diesel man 174, auto 192)
Tank: 64 litres