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Kia Sorento 2020 review: Black Edition

The seven-seat Kia Sorento shares design traits with its smaller hatch and SUV siblings.
EXPERT RATING
7.8
When a popular model is about to be superceded a special edition is often brought into play to keep sales ticking over until the newcomer hits the showroom. The Kia Sorento Black edition is just such a machine, a value-add version of the big, seven-seat SUV offering set to be replaced before the end of 2020.

The Sorento is Kia’s family-size, seven seat SUV, and there’s no hiding the fact that the current version is set to be replaced by an all-new, fourth-generation model before the end of 2020, and the South Korean brand is doing its best to execute what the car business refers to as an ‘orderly run-out.’

That is, manage supply and demand for a mature model, offering extra value to keep sales ticking over in the run up to the new car’s arrival, without having too many superseded examples in stock when it does.

If the scent of a bargain has just wafted into your nostrils, you’re ready to meet the Sorento Black Edition., as the name implies, a special edition model offering extra equipment at a sharp price.

Kia Sorento 2020: BLACK EDITION
Safety rating
Engine Type3.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency10L/100km
Seating7 seats
Price from$48,490

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

At exactly 4.8m end-to-end, just under 1.9m wide, and close to 1.7m tall, the Sorento is hardly a shrinking violet. Yet, the big seven-seater retains many of the design hallmarks shared with its smaller hatch and SUV siblings.

The big seven-seater retains many of the design hallmarks shared with its smaller hatch and SUV siblings. The big seven-seater retains many of the design hallmarks shared with its smaller hatch and SUV siblings.

The uniquely shaped ‘Tiger Nose’ grille is present and accounted for, this special edition turning it gloss black, with other elements including 19-inch gloss black alloy wheels, gloss black roof rails, dark chrome window surrounds, and black side mirror covers.

There’s also an eye-catching four lens LED cluster for the fog lights, black skid plates under the front and rear bumpers (matching the standard black wheelarch trims), and privacy glass on the rear side and back windows.

Careful management of the transition between the Sorento’s major surfaces relies on strategically placed character lines at the borders of the bonnet, outer edges of the nose, and lower sections of the side doors.

The net effect is sleek but relatively reserved, the only touches of excitement being the long, tapered headlights, complete with jagged cut-out at the top and LED DRLs along their lower edges.

There’s also an eye-catching four lens LED cluster for the fog lights. There’s also an eye-catching four lens LED cluster for the fog lights.

Cover the badges, and from the rear the Sorento could pass for any number of Japanese and Korean competitor brands. Subtle and inoffensive, but plain. What we’ve seen of the next-generation model points to a more adventurous and angular exterior.

In an era of gleaming tablet-style screens and fully configurable digital dash displays, the Sorento is starting to show its age on the inside. Again, nothing that’s particularly unattractive, just conservative, monotone, and old(-ish) school.

This Black Edition dials up the premium feel with perforated leather-accented seats and soft-touch materials on the dash and doors, all executed beautifully. But the low-key 8.0-inch touchscreen, while user-friendly, lacks the wow-factor of a Mazda CX-9 or Hyundai Santa Fe’s media interface. Plus, glowing orange LCD numerals and symbols on the heating and ventilation control panel are from another time.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The Sorento is big rather than super-size humongous, but a wheelbase of 2780mm is not to be sneezed at, and interior packaging is impressive.

It feels spacious up front with lots of breathing room for the driver and front passenger, as well as plenty of storage options, including two cupholders in the centre console, a large storage box/armrest between the seats and a lidded oddments tray in front of the gearshift. The glove box is a decent size, there’s a sunglasses holder in the roof, and generous door pockets include a section for large bottles.

It feels spacious up front with lots of breathing room for the driver and front passenger. It feels spacious up front with lots of breathing room for the driver and front passenger.

Connectivity and power options in the front console run to two 12-volt outlets, an ‘aux-in’ socket, and a USB-A port, the latter offering power and access to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Switch to the second row and sitting behind my (183cm / 6.0ft) seating position I enjoyed more than adequate head and legroom. Three adults across the centre seat is okay as a short- to medium-term proposition, and Kia has covered the key bases in terms of comfort, storage and power.

Switch to the second row and sitting behind my (183cm / 6.0ft) seating position I enjoyed more than adequate head and legroom. Switch to the second row and sitting behind my (183cm / 6.0ft) seating position I enjoyed more than adequate head and legroom.

There are two cupholders in the fold-down centre armrest, netted map pockets on the back of the front seats, and handy door bins with a sculpted section for large bottles. The rear of the front centre console houses adjustable air vents, a 12-volt outlet, and USB-A (charge-only) outlet.

Access to the two seats in the third row is awkward, and once your back there it’s basically a kids-only zone, anyway. But the schoolies that do score the way back seats are furnished with a bottle holder and storage tray each with air con fan speed control and adjustable vents.

Access to the two seats in the third row is awkward, and once your back there it’s basically a kids-only zone. Access to the two seats in the third row is awkward, and once your back there it’s basically a kids-only zone.

Boot storage runs to 142 litres (VDA) with all seats upright, which is enough to accommodate the smaller two (35- and 68-litre) suitcases from our three-piece set.

Fold the third row down and 605 litres opens up, which means you can add the third (105-litre) case and the jumbo size CarsGuide pram, with relative ease. Nice.

With second and third row seats folded, you’re looking at 1662 litres, which is enough to host a small indoor tennis tournament. Pull-out bag hooks and tie-down anchors are helpful additions.

  • Boot storage runs to 142 litres (VDA). Boot storage runs to 142 litres (VDA).
  • With all seats upright the boot accommodates two suitcases. With all seats upright the boot accommodates two suitcases.
  • Fold the third row down and 605 litres opens up, fitting an extra suitcase and the jumbo size CarsGuide pram. Fold the third row down and 605 litres opens up, fitting an extra suitcase and the jumbo size CarsGuide pram.

A full-size alloy spare wheel sits under the car’s rear end, and for the towing fraternity, the Sorento V6 is rated to haul a 2000kg braked trailer (with a 100kg towball download), and 750kg unbraked.

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

It’s price and scale put the Kia Sorento Black Edition in direct competition with the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX-9, and Toyota Kluger.

Kia has packaged the petrol version (as tested) with a drive-away price of $48,990 (diesel $52,490), and over and above the included safety tech (detailed in the Safety section) the standard equipment list is lengthy.

You get a 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with digital radio plus Apple Car Play and Android Auto. You get a 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with digital radio plus Apple Car Play and Android Auto.

The Black Edition treatment includes the 19-inch gloss black alloy rims, a gloss black grille and roof rails, dark chrome window surrounds, and black side mirror covers. LED fog lights, black front and rear skid plates, a giant glass panoramic sunroof and privacy glass are also included.

The Sorento Black’s standard features list also runs to: keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, active cruise control, auto headlights (with LED DRLs), power folding and heated exterior mirrors, leather-accented seat trim, leather-trimmed gearshift and steering wheel, 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen, six-speaker audio with digital radio plus Apple Car Play and Android Auto (with voice recognition), sat nav, and a 3.5-inch LCD instrument screen. Not shabby, and enough to meet expectations in a $50K SUV.

A giant glass panoramic sunroof and privacy glass are also included. A giant glass panoramic sunroof and privacy glass are also included.

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

The Sorento Black Edition is offered with two engine options – a 2.2-litre, in-line, turbo-diesel four-cylinder, or as tested here, with a 3.5-litre, naturally-aspirated, (Lambda II) petrol V6.

Featuring Dual CVVT (variable valve timing on the exhaust and inlet side) and direct-injection, this all-alloy unit produces 206kW at 6300rpm, and 336Nm @5000rpm.

We tested the 3.5-litre, naturally-aspirated, (Lambda II) petrol V6 engine. We tested the 3.5-litre, naturally-aspirated, (Lambda II) petrol V6 engine.

It sends drive to the front wheels only via an eight-speed (conventional torque-converter) automatic transmission.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 10.0L/100km, the 3.5-litre V6 emitting 235g/km of CO2 in the process.

Over close to 300km of city, suburban and highway running, we recorded 12.8L/100km, courtesy of the on-board computer. Minimum fuel requirement is standard 91 RON unleaded, and you’ll 71 litres of it to fill the tank.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

Quiet, comfortable, and smooth are the three words that come to mind after only a few kilometres in the Sorento Black Edition.

The naturally aspirated V6 doesn’t have the low-down torque of its turbo competitors (the peak number arrives at 5000rpm), but its delivery is beautifully linear and strong enough to get the 1875kg seven-seater moving along nicely.

Quiet, comfortable, and smooth are the three words that come to mind after only a few kilometres in the Sorento Black Edition. Quiet, comfortable, and smooth are the three words that come to mind after only a few kilometres in the Sorento Black Edition.

Maximum power is decent enough at 206kW, but it arrives at a lofty 6300 rpm, just under the 6500rpm rev ceiling. That said, the V6 is ultra-quiet and the eight-speed auto is a perfect partner, with a spread of ratios placed to keep things on the boil when required.

Suspension is by struts at the front and multi-links at the rear, and ride comfort is excellent, every bit as good as some premium SUV’s costing twice as much.

The electro-mechanical power steering is well weighted, and while not the last word in terms of road feel, it points nicely. Black mark against the turning circle, though. It’s big.

The electro-mechanical power steering is well weighted, and while not the last word in terms of road feel, it points nicely. The electro-mechanical power steering is well weighted, and while not the last word in terms of road feel, it points nicely.

The Black’s snazzy 19-inch alloys are shod with (235/55) Hankook Dynapro HP2 rubber, which is good match for the suspension and weight of the car, softening the potential impact of the large rims on ride quality. They also did a good job in some consistently wet weather, the front-wheel drive Sorento staying on track and under control in cornering.

A big vehicle like this, often called on for towing duties, needs solid stopping power, and the Sorento’s 320mm ventilated front discs, and 305mm solid rear discs are well up to the job.

The driver’s seat proved comfortable, even over longer trips, and the ergonomics are hard to fault with simple, well-placed controls and logical switchgear. The big Sorento is an effortless drive.

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 Black Edition steps up strongly in terms of active and passive safety tech, scoring a maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was assessed in October, 2017.

All the usual active safety suspects are accounted for, including ABS (with EBD and BA), stability and traction controls, and front and rear parking sensors (with dash display).

Also included are lane keeping assist, AEB (with ‘Forward Collision Warning System’), ‘Driver Attention Alert’, ‘Emergency Stop Signal’, auto headlights, front and rear fog lights, reversing camera (with dynamic parking guidelines), and a 360-degree camera view.

Missing are ‘Blind Spot Detection’ and ‘Rear Cross Traffic Alert’, which are only available on the top-spec GT.

If a crash is unavoidable, the Sorento packs six airbags - driver and front passenger, front side, and curtain (covering the first and second rows only).

For child restraints/baby capsules, there are three top tether points across the back seat, and ISOFIX anchors on the outer second row seat positions.

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

Kia’s at the pointy end of the mainstream market with a seven-year/unlimited km warranty, including 12 months complimentary roadside assist, the latter extending up to eight years if the car is serviced annually at an authorised Kia dealer.

Scheduled maintenance for the 3.5-litre petrol tested is required every 12 months or 15,000km. Although the dollars vary across individual milestones, Kia's capped-price servicing schedule limits total cost to $3081 for the first seven services; the average figure being $440.

Verdict

Low-key, fuss-free, and nicely put together, the Kia Sorento Black Edition combines comfort, refinement, and practicality in a space-efficient, seven-seat SUV package. It’s long in the tooth, but represents a ripe target for those hovering and ready to swoop in for a sharp end-of-model-life purchase. A strong safety offering and leading ownership package only sweeten the deal further.

Pricing guides

$51,490
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$43,490
Highest Price
$59,490

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
BLACK EDITION 2.2L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $51,990 2020 Kia Sorento 2020 BLACK EDITION Pricing and Specs
GT-LINE (4x2) GSL NAV 3.5L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO $55,990 2020 Kia Sorento 2020 GT-LINE (4x2) GSL NAV Pricing and Specs
GT-LINE (4x4) 2.2L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $59,490 2020 Kia Sorento 2020 GT-LINE (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Si (4x2) 3.5L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO $43,490 2020 Kia Sorento 2020 Si (4x2) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.8
Design7
Practicality8
Price and features8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety8
Ownership9
James Cleary
Deputy Editor

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