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Kia Sorento Platinum Diesel 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
8
Richard Blackburn road tests and reviews the Kia Sorento Platinum diesel with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

The Sorento lays claim to being the new family SUV benchmark.

Call it the class ceiling. Some brands, no matter how much they've improved over the years, can't seem to make it on to shopping lists.

Kia is among them. The Korean brand has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years but still finds it hard to attract interest in its larger, more expensive cars and SUVs.

The Rio and Cerato small cars sell well, the Sportage compact SUV is slowly building a following but the Optima sedan and Sorento SUV struggle to make an impact.

The all-new Sorento could be the car that makes the breakthrough. At its starting price of $40,990, it's a compelling proposition. But what about the top-of-the-line Platinum model, which costs more than $60,000 on the road?

Design

The Sorento is going to win over plenty of people in the showroom, especially the Platinum model.

The cabin feels upmarket, with an imitation leather finish on the dash, modern looking faux-wood inserts on the doors and centre console and frosted alloy surrounds on the aircon vents. Two-tone, perforated leather seats and a leather and timber steering wheel complete the look.

Apart from the leather trim, the main visual difference between the Platinum and the cheaper Sorentos are bigger 19-inch wheels, daytime running lights, privacy glass on the rear windows and tailgate and the panoramic sunroof. Look a little closer and it also gets power-adjustable, heated front and rear seats (and steering wheel), a better 10-speaker stereo and sun blinds for the second row.

The new Sorento is also noticeably bigger than its predecessor, which has liberated more leg and head room for second and third-row passengers.

About town 

The Platinum has a couple of city-friendly features that are sadly not available on cheaper models, most of them safety-related. The arsenal of driver assistance technology includes blind spot warning, lane departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert, handy for backing out of driveways or parking spots.

It also has a tailgate that opens automatically when it senses you're at the back of the car, arms full of shopping bags. All Sorentos get a reversing camera and front and rear sensors.

Getting the kids in and out of the third row is also reasonably easy, with the second row seats sliding forward on the passenger side to widen the entry to the back seats, which have their own aircon controls. It's also well prepared for the modern family, with two USB chargers and three 12-volt power outlets.

The diesel engine is reasonably quiet at idle and taking off from the lights, although there's no fuel-saving stop-start technology and fuel consumption hovered around 11L/100km on our city loop. The increase in the Sorento's size has also meant a penalty at the fuel pump, with the new model thirstier than the one launched in 2009.

On the road

Active cruise control keeps a safe distance to the car in front, while adaptive headlights follow the curve of the road, improving vision at night.

It's not a hardcore offroader, though the Sorento is capable and assured over broken surfaces, with a comfortable ride and little wallowing over bigger bumps.

The steering isn't a strong point, though. It feels a little lifeless and slow through corners, with an artificial feel that takes some getting used to.

Performance

The diesel engine in the Sorento is an impressive thing on the open road. With 441Nm on tap, it makes light work of hills and overtaking manoeuvres, barely raising a whimper when you put the foot down on the freeway.

The six-speed auto is a smooth-shifting job and it holds on to higher gears to save fuel, using the abundant torque to amble along at low revs.

The official average fuel-use label says 7.8L/100km, but you will do better than that on the open road.

Verdict

Arguably the new benchmark in the mainstream, family-sized SUV class, the Sorento is not perfect but it is generously equipped, comfortable and well presented inside.

What it's got

Blind spot and lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, automatic opening tailgate, satnav, rear camera and sensors, heated front and rear seats.

What it hasn't

Stop-start technology for saving fuel, a snobby badge on the nose, autonomous low-speed braking.

Ownership

Kia doesn't quite have the resale strength of some of its Japanese competitors but compensates with an industry-leading seven-year warranty that includes seven years of roadside assistance if you service at a Kia dealer. There is also capped price servicing for seven years, although you need a VIN to be able to cross-shop costs with rivals.

Pick of the range 

The SLi is $6000 cheaper than the Platinum if you can live without the driver assistance technology. Apart from the latter's sunroof, there's not a lot of visual difference between the two.

Pricing Guides

$30,990
Based on 92 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$18,788
Highest Price
$41,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Platinum (4x4) 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $27,888 – 41,990 2015 Kia Sorento 2015 Platinum (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Si (4x2) 3.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $21,788 – 27,880 2015 Kia Sorento 2015 Si (4x2) Pricing and Specs
Si (4x4) 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $24,989 – 32,990 2015 Kia Sorento 2015 Si (4x4) Pricing and Specs
SLi (4x2) 3.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $20,990 – 32,990 2015 Kia Sorento 2015 SLi (4x2) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8