Kia's Sorento has developed rapidly over the past five or six years from something good to something really impressive. The latest version is possibly the final evolution of this generation Sorento and is far and away the best. It's been locally fettled to deliver arguably one of the best ride compromises in the class.
Next time around Sorento will be based around the new Hyundai Santa Fe sheetmetal. We got to drive the range topping Platinum diesel that sells for a not insignificant $50,390 but you get a whole lot of SUV for the money.
Platinum scores 19-inch alloys with a full size alloy spare, rear view camera, front and back parking sensors, auto xenon headlights with see around corner function, auto wipers, hill start assist, front LED running lights, leather, Bluetooth audio and phone, climate control, climate control seats, premium audio, Suna satnav with 7-inch screen, power eight way adjust driver's seat, four way power passenger's seat, seven seats, solar filtering glass, glass roof, cruise, wheel controls, push button start, trip computer, multiple storage compartments and more than we can list here.
The vehicle is a medium size SUV in the "two box" style with a large passenger compartment complete with fold down third row seating (with footwell).
With seven aboard, there's adequate room and the vehicle makes light work of carrying this load. There's even a decent space in the back for some luggage. The interior styling is modern and functional but fairly hard in most areas. Kia uses the stitched leather look on the dash favoured by premium European manufacturers but in this case it's hard underneath.
But that's all there is to complain about inside, other than that, it's a good thing.
Plenty of power comes from the 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine that's been around for a while now. It achieves 145kW/436Nm output and drives all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
Efficiency is boosted by the variable geometry turbocharger sufficient to give this medium size SUV the creditable fuel figures of 7.3L/100km.
It's smooth and quiet making pretty much no noise on the highway cruising. And there's always willing acceleration available at will. The vehicle rides with competence in many environments. It has a sporty Euro feel on sealed roads and yet is comfortable and stable off road. A four wheel drive lock mode is provided for tricky situations.
We like the look of it too - with the "Schreyer" bowtie grille and neat, stylish lines reminiscent of a BMW X5 at the rear.
We could easily live with one of these vehicles permanently as a general duties hack. It covers plenty of bases, has great performance and economy, looks the business and is generously equipped. Kia also offers an incredible warranty and fixed price servicing. No downsides at all really.
Kia Sorento Platinum diesel
Price: from $50,390
Engine: 2.2-litre 4-cylinder, 145kW/436Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, 4WD
Thirst: 7.3L/100Km, C02 192g/km
Price: from $31,990
Engine: 2.5-litre 4-cylinder, 125kW/226Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 4WD
Thirst: 9.1L/100km, CO2 216g/km
Subaru Forester XT
Price: from $39,990
Engine: 2.5-litre 4-cylinder, 169kW/320Nm
Transmission: 5-speed manual, FWD
Thirst: 10.5L/100km, CO2 248g/km
Price: from $31,990
Engine: 2.4-litre 4-cylinder, 125kW/224Nm
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4WD
Thirst: 9.1L/100km, CO2 213g/km