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Kia Sorento 2018 review

EXPERT RATING
7.8
The last Kia Sorento had few faults, and this new one must have set Kia’s engineers a challenge. Could they improve the bits that needed fixing while leaving everything that was good about it alone?

How do you make something that was already great even better?

I'm only asking because the last Kia Sorento had very few faults, and this new one arriving must have set Kia’s engineers a bit of a challenge. Could they improve the little bits that needed fixing while leaving everything that was good about the Sorento alone? Or would tinkering with the winning formula take some of the shine off Kia’s large SUV?

We headed to the launch of the new Sorento to find out.

Kia Sorento 2018: Si (4x2)
Safety rating
Engine Type3.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency10L/100km
Seating7 seats
Price from$31,990

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

If you can spot the difference between this new Sorento and the previous one, write in and we’ll give you a hat. That is, if we have any left. Which we probably will because we have a lot of hats, and because the differences aren’t too easy to spot.

Look, I’ll even give you a clue; the grille is glitzier, the headlights have been redesigned and so have the taillights, the rear bumper has been restyled and all grades now have a chrome exhaust. All grades have new wheel designs, too.

Less boxy than Toyota’s Kluger and more curvaceous than the blade-sharp design of the Mazda CX-9, the Sorento is a good-looking large SUV that has a tough and premium presence on the road.

2018 Kia Sorento line-up. 2018 Kia Sorento line-up.

That premium feel continues into the cabin, with dark textured materials and an excellent fit and finish.

The cockpit isn’t the most modern (compared to, say, the CX-9), but the new eight-inch screen is on the bigger side by current standards, even if its setting and the controls and dials around it are beginning to date. 

  • 2018 Kia Sorento. (Sport variant shown) 2018 Kia Sorento. (Sport variant shown)
  • 2018 Kia Sorento. (Sport variant shown) 2018 Kia Sorento. (Sport variant shown)

You can have your Sorento in any colour as long as it’s grey. Okay, that’s not true, there’s also 'Gravity Blue', 'Snow White Pearl' and 'Clear White', joining a trio of greys; 'Silky Silver', 'Metal Stream' and 'Platinum Graphite'.

The Sorento’s dimensions have changed slightly – this new one is longer by 20mm, now 4800mm end-to-end. The height has stayed the same at 1690mm with roof rails, and its width is still 1890mm. 

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The answer is very. Both head and legroom in the front is excellent, even in sunroof-equipped models, and at 191cm I can sit behind my driving position with about 40mm of space between my knees and the front seatback. 

Headroom in the second row is good, but the same can’t be said for the third row which has limited headspace for me - although legroom can be made better because the second row seats slide forward on rails. That said, I could set the seats - the third row, second row and front row - and sit in them all with a little breathing room. 

With the third row folded flat the luggage capacity increases to 605 litres, which sounds enormous, but the Mazda CX-9’s is 810 litres.

With all seats up, though, there’s just 142 litres of room left for luggage. That was enough to fit two airline overhead luggage cases, but if you have a big family and you’re heading away on holiday, you’ll need to invest in a roof pod. A genuine 450-litre Kia pod for the Sorento costs $995.42.

With the third row folded flat the luggage capacity increases to 605 litres, which sounds enormous, but the Mazda CX-9’s is 810 litres.

Cabin storage is great with two cupholders in each row. There’s two large storage trays in the back row, too, plus there’s a giant centre console storage bin big enough to hide a small backpack, great under-dash storage in front of the gear shifter and big bottle holders in all doors.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

There are four levels in the Sorento line-up. It starts with the petrol Si, which lists for $42,990 ($45,490 for the diesel), then steps up to the Sport for $44,990 (the diesel is $48,490), the SLi for $46,990 ($50,490 for the diesel), and the-top-of-the-range (and diesel-only) GT-Line for $58,990.

Prices have increased over the previous Sorento, with the GT-Line now $500 more expensive, the SLi price is up by $1000, the Sport (which used to be the SLi Limited) is up by a $1000 and the Si petrol is $2000 more.

Those prices are pretty much bang-on what Mazda is asking for the CX-9, what Toyota wants for its Kluger or what Hyundai is asking for its Santa Fe.

  • 2018 Kia Sorento. (SLi variant shown) 2018 Kia Sorento. (SLi variant shown)
  • 2018 Kia Sorento. (SLi variant shown) 2018 Kia Sorento. (SLi variant shown)
  • 2018 Kia Sorento. (SLi variant shown) 2018 Kia Sorento. (SLi variant shown)

A $60k list price is a decent chunk of moolah to hand over, but if you have a look at the specification sheet it’ll take you about 1.5 seconds to see that the entry grade Si comes loaded with features and possibly everything you’d want anyway, so there is really no need to bother with options.

The Si has the same eight-inch display that comes standard across the range, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a six-speaker stereo with digital radio. There’s also nav, a reversing camera, dual-zone climate, auto headlights with LED DRLs, roof rails, a rear spoiler and 17-inch alloy wheels. 

The Si also comes with a barrage of new advanced safety equipment which you can read all about below.

  • 2018 Kia Sorento. (GT-Line variant shown) 2018 Kia Sorento. (GT-Line variant shown)
  • 2018 Kia Sorento. (GT variant shown) 2018 Kia Sorento. (GT variant shown)
  • 2018 Kia Sorento. (GT-Line variant shown) 2018 Kia Sorento. (GT-Line variant shown)
  • 2018 Kia Sorento. (GT-Line variant shown) 2018 Kia Sorento. (GT-Line variant shown)
  • 2018 Kia Sorento. (GT-Line variant shown) 2018 Kia Sorento. (GT-Line variant shown)

The Sport is the Si but with 18-inch alloys and leather seats. Then stepping up into the SLi adds a 10-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, proximity unlocking, auto tailgate, powered front seats, tinted rear glass, alloy pedals, LED taillights, alloy treadplates and faux-wood trim on the centre console.

The GT-Line is swamped with even more features. Things like heated front and rear seats, panoramic sun roof, 360 camera, LED ‘bending’ headlights, a heated steering wheel, window sunshades in the second row, dual chrome exhaust and 19-inch alloy wheels. None of it is necessary, but all of it is nice to have.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

Simple – two engines: a diesel and a petrol. The diesel is a turbo four cylinder which makes 147kW and 441Nm, while the petrol is a V6 which makes 206kW and 335Nm.

The petrol Sorentos are front-wheel drive and the diesels are all-wheel drive. There’s no manual gearbox but the six-speed automatic transmission from the old car has been replaced by an eight-speed unit. 

The 3.5-litre V6 petrol is a new engine (the previous one was a 3.3-litre unit).

  • 2018 Kia Sorento. (Petrol variant shown) 2018 Kia Sorento. (Petrol variant shown)
  • 2018 Kia Sorento. (Petrol variant shown) 2018 Kia Sorento. (Petrol variant shown)

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The petrol engine is thirstier than the diesel, but not by as much as I’d have expected. We drove both on similar roads at the launch of the new Sorento and the V6 was using an average of 9.5L/100km according to the trip computer after crawling through Sydney’s urban streets, then onto highways before climbing the winding roads into the Blue Mountains. That’s lower than the 10.0L/100km that Kia reckons the V6 should use in combined driving conditions. 

The diesel engine was using an average of 8.2L/100km on mainly country roads. Remember, though, that the diesel is an all-wheel drive. Kia says 7.2L/100km is the official fuel figure.

Then from Katoomba in the Blue Mountains to Sydney airport, the V6 petrol used an average of 7.8L/100km.

You should also know that even though the V6 is bigger than the previous one it only drinks 0.1L/100km more fuel.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

The previous Sorento had a comfortable ride, which was probably a bit too ‘floaty’ for my liking and the steering felt overly light. Those issues have been rectified in the new Sorento, with suspension adjustments that have reduced body roll in the corners while still keeping the ride super comfy, and new steering which feels a little heavier and more accurate.

I had the chance to spend time in the Si petrol, SLi Petrol and the GT-Line diesel.

  • 2018 Kia Sorento. (Sport variant shown) 2018 Kia Sorento. (Sport variant shown)
  • 2018 Kia Sorento. (SLi variant shown) 2018 Kia Sorento. (SLi variant shown)
  • 2018 Kia Sorento. (GT variant shown) 2018 Kia Sorento. (GT variant shown)

I’m a fan of that V6 petrol. The response from the engine is instant, while the power and torque feels abundant. The diesel takes a moment to deliver the grunt and doesn’t run as smoothly as the petrol.

Here’s something a bit unexpected; I found the seating position in the base spec Si better than the top grade GT-Line. The manually adjustable seats in the Si could be set lower, while the power adjustable ones in the GT-Line weren’t quite as flexible.

The Sorento is one of the best seven-seat SUVs in this price range to drive. Easy to pilot, plenty of grunt and with good visibility all around.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

7 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The Sorento scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2015. This new version comes with more advanced safety equipment such as AEB, lane keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control – these are standard across the entire range, too.

The GT-Line comes with more equipment, such as rear cross traffic alert, blind spot warning, and a 360-degree view camera.

If the Sorento was to keep up with rivals like the CX-9, it really needed this advanced safety gear fitted across its range. It's great to see Kia has responded to this need. 

You’ll find three top tether anchor mounts and two ISOFIX points for child seats across the second row only.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   9/10

The Sorento is covered by Kia’s seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. There’s also seven years of capped-price servicing. Servicing is recommended annually or every 15,000km.

The diesel is capped at $403 for the first service, then $471, $465, $664, $454, $570 and $482 for the seventh. The petrol is cheaper to maintain with prices capped at $349 for the first, then $415, $405, $544, $393, $505, and $417.

Verdict

The Sorento was always great, and Kia could have easily just released an updated car with a new bumper and called it a new model. But the brand has instead jumped in and fixed a few issues that needed addressing, like the ride, the smaller display and the (lack of) safety features.

Now you have an SUV that’s just as practical and good value as the last one, but also one that drives better and is safer, too.

The sweet spot in this Sorento range for me is the SLi petrol. For just $4000 more than the base price this grade comes loaded with features and includes proximity unlocking, auto tailgate and the Harman Kardon stereo.

Would you pick Kia Sorento over a Mazda CX-9 or Toyota Kluger? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$49,721
Based on 538 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$31,990
Highest Price
$65,490

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
AO EDITION 2.2L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $39,991 – 47,990 2018 KIA SORENTO 2018 AO EDITION Pricing and Specs
GT-LINE (4x2) GSL 3.5L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO $48,985 – 61,096 2018 KIA SORENTO 2018 GT-LINE (4x2) GSL Pricing and Specs
GT-LINE (4x4) 2.2L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $46,999 – 65,490 2018 KIA SORENTO 2018 GT-LINE (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Si (4x2) 3.5L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO $31,990 – 44,477 2018 KIA SORENTO 2018 Si (4x2) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.8
Design7
Practicality8
Price and features8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety8
Ownership9
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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