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Kia Sorento 2020 review: GT-Line

The GT-Line sits at the top of the Sorento range.
EXPERT RATING
7.6
The current Kia Sorento GT-Line is due to be replaced in 2020, but buy the current one now and you'll take home what's become a benchmark in the affordable seven-seat SUV world, at a bargain price.

The new-generation Kia Sorento is about six months away and that means dealerships need to clear their showrooms of the current generation as quickly as possible. What does this mean for you? Bargains, that’s what.

I’ve road tested the top-of-the-range GT-Line with all-wheel drive and the diesel engine to see if the Sorento - which has been the value-for-money benchmark for affordable seven-seater SUVs for years - still impresses.  

Kia Sorento 2020: GT-LINE (4x4)
Safety rating
Engine Type2.2L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency7.2L/100km
Seating7 seats
Price from$59,490

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

The GT-Line is the most expensive Sorento you can buy with its list price of $59,490. At the time of writing Kia’s website shows that you can have a GT-Line AWD diesel for $61,990 drive-away and you can bet that as we get closer to the new-gen Sorento arriving (in the second half of 2020) the price is likely to be dropped further.

Coming standard are leather seats with GT-Line embossed badging, eight-way power adjustable, heated and ventilated seats up front, heated second-row seats, a power tailgate, roof rails, LED tail-lights, 8.0-inch touchscreen, 10-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, sat nav, digital radio, dual-zone climate control, proximity unlocking, tinted rear windows and a panoramic sunroof.

The 8.0-inch touchscreen comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 8.0-inch touchscreen comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Is it good value? Absolutely, but there’s a ‘but’. See, you’re getting nearly every Kia feature imaginable… for the world of 2015.

But, tech has changed in the past five years and we’re seeing more sophisticated features on rivals, such as the head-up display in Mazda’s CX-9 which comes standard on the Sport grade, that lists for just $45K.

The red brake calipers are a dead giveaway that the Sorento you’re looking at is a GT-Line. The red brake calipers are a dead giveaway that the Sorento you’re looking at is a GT-Line.

Really though, the GT-Line is in direct competition with the CX-9 GT that lists for $65,720. Other rivals include the Toyota Kluger GXL which is $58,950, and the Holden Acadia, which is $57,490 for the LTZ.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

I remember when this current Sorento was unveiled in 2014 . It was the latest Kia, in a range-wide overhaul, to be reshaped by former Audi designer Peter Schreyer, and stunned pretty much everybody with its high-end looks.

That the Sorento still look gorgeous six years later is testament to his styling guidance. Sure, the rounded front-end is beginning to date as the faces of many SUVs move to a more chiseled and aggressive look, but the tailgate, with its angular tail-light treatment, is very much ‘on trend’ now.

The red brake calipers are a dead giveaway that the Sorento you’re looking at is a GT-Line.

Six years on and the Sorento still look gorgeous. Six years on and the Sorento still look gorgeous.

Where the Sorento is showing its age the most is inside. The screen is getting small by today’s standards, and the digital instrument cluster isn’t as sophisticated others in the segment.

There's also the climate control with its orange LCD display, there’s no head-up display, and the dash styling and its use of dark spongy materials looks old now.

Yet, the interior is stylish, plush and premium, with a superb fit and finish. Another reason why the Sorento has been a standout all these years.

The GT-Line comes with a perforated leather steering wheel with paddle shifters. The GT-Line comes with a perforated leather steering wheel with paddle shifters.

If the GT-Line was a Christmas tree you’d barely be able to see its branches for the decorations. There’s gloss black trim around the console and the front and rear doors, alloy pedal covers, LED interior lights, GT-Line embossed seats and illuminated alloy door sills.

The GT-Line comes with a perforated leather steering wheel with paddle shifters, too.   

How big is the Sorento? Let’s look at the dimensions. The Sorento is 4800mm end-to-end, 1890mm wide and 1690mm tall. That’s not as huge as a Mazda CX-9, but still large.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The Sorento is a proper seven-seat SUV in that even adults my (191cm) size can sit in the third row comfortably. And that’s with the second row adjusted so I can sit behind my driving position without my knees touching the back of the front seat.

That said, nothing beats a people mover such as the Kia Carnival for a third row with easy access, and without that claustrophobic feeling that creeps in when I sit in the third-row of any seven-seat SUV.

On board the Sorento are  three 12-volt outlets (two up front and one second row), and two USB ports (in the first and second rows). Both are Type-A, rather than the newer, and increasingly common Type-C version.

Many SUVs now have more USB ports, and some all the way back to the third row, such as in the Holden Acadia.

  • The interior is stylish, plush and premium. The interior is stylish, plush and premium.
  • Back passengers get two cupholders in the flip down armrest. Back passengers get two cupholders in the flip down armrest.
  • The Sorento is a proper seven-seat SUV in that adults can sit in the third row comfortably. The Sorento is a proper seven-seat SUV in that adults can sit in the third row comfortably.

Climate control is dual-zone for the front but the second and third rows have directional air vents with fan speed adjusters.  

Cabin storage is good with a large centre console bin, cupholders everywhere including the third row, and big door pockets

Those rear doors are large and tall, and open wide making for an easy entry and exit, although I haven’t met a seven-seat SUV which is easy for me to climb into the third row, and the Sorento is no exception.

If you have all rows of seating in place the boot area has a cargo capacity of 142 litres, but if you fold the third row flat that increases to 605 litres.

  • With all rows of seating in place the boot area has a cargo capacity of 142 litres. With all rows of seating in place the boot area has a cargo capacity of 142 litres.
  • Folding the third row flat that increases boot space to 605 litres. Folding the third row flat that increases boot space to 605 litres.
  • Total cargo volume is rated at 1662-litres. Total cargo volume is rated at 1662-litres.
  • All three CrasGuide suitcases fit in the boot without a problem. All three CrasGuide suitcases fit in the boot without a problem.
  • The CarsGuide pram fits easily into the back of the Sorento. The CarsGuide pram fits easily into the back of the Sorento.

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

If you want an all-wheel drive Sorento GT-Line then you’ll need the version with the diesel engine, as tested. There is a petrol version but it’s a front-wheel drive SUV.

The 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine makes 147kW and 441Nm, which is plenty of grunt and you’ll have a braked towing capacity of 2000kg at your disposal. An eight-speed auto does a seamless job of shifting gears.

The turbo-diesel unit produces 147kW/441Nm. The turbo-diesel unit produces 147kW/441Nm.

I found the engine quiet and smooth for a diesel, and while the power output may look low compared to the V6 petrol’s 336kW the torque is more than enough to pull this large SUV.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Kia says the 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine in the Sorento GT-Line AWD we tested uses 7.2L/100km over a combination of open and urban driving.

My testing took in 152km of mainly suburban and city driving, and the trip computer was telling me it was using an average of 9.3L/100km. That’s not bad at all considering there weren’t many motorway kays in there.

Those frustrated that they can’t have the GT-Line with all-wheel drive and a petrol engine can take some comfort knowing the V6 uses about 3.0L/100km more fuel than the diesel engine.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The Kia Sorento scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2017.

Only the GT-Line comes with LED headlights which move to shine ahead of you as you turn corners along with safety technology that’s not standard on the other grades such as blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert and a 360 degree camera.

Then there’s the safety equipment all Sorentos feature including, AEB, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance, reversing camera, plus front and rear parking sensors.

For child seats you’ll find three top tether anchor points and two ISOFIX mounts across the second row.

A full-sized spare alloy wheel is under the car as you can see in the images.

Unlike a lot of cars these days, the Sorento comes with a full-sized spare alloy wheel. Unlike a lot of cars these days, the Sorento comes with a full-sized spare alloy wheel.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

7 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

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

The Sorento is covered by Kia’s seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

Servicing is recommended at 12 month/15,000km intervals and is capped at $346 for the first service, $555 for the second, $404 for the third, $707 for the fourth, $389 for the fifth, $665 for the sixth and $413 for the seventh/70,000km visit.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

For a large seven-seat SUV the Sorento is easy and enjoyable to drive compared to many of its rivals.

The Holden Acadia feels like an enormous truck, the Nissan Pathfinder is so floaty it can be like a boat bobbing about at sea sometimes, while the Mazda CX-9 is excellent to drive but the visibility isn’t great.

The Sorento has none of these problems . It’s easy to see out of, has Australian-tuned suspension, which is comfortable but offers impressive handling, and feels a lot smaller to drive than it looks.

If there are any negatives it’s that the diesel isn’t as smooth as the petrol engine and has a small amount of lag in its response, but those aren’t deal breakers.   

Verdict

The new Kia Sorento is expected to arrive before the end of 2020. If you can wait (and I would) you’ll be buying an all-new SUV which will look modern and have the latest tech and come with even better advanced safety equipment.

That said, Kia will be doing some very tempting deals on the current Sorento in ‘run-out’ as dealers clear the way for the new version. And that’s where you could pick up this seven-seater SUV, which set the benchmark in the segment, at a bargain price.

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
7.6
Price and features8
Design7
Practicality8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Safety7
Ownership9
Driving8
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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