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Kia Sorento 2012 review

Kia Sorento Platinum isn’t afraid to use chrome as part of its bling package.

Kia Sorento has a lot to offer, especially in the topline Platinum format. Sorento has seven seats, a slick six-speed automatic transmission and bling to burn, making the Sorento Platinum a great people mover with some off-road ability when needed. Oh, and it's also great to drive.

Technology

This vehicle tips the scales at almost two tonnes, yet the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel used just 7.7 litres per hundred kilometres over our test that saw a lot of suburban running as well as our usual highway and motorway testing.

This engine is a modern design and produces a strong 436 Nm of torque between 1800 and 2500 rpm. Acceleration, straight-line speed and highway passing ability are simply not an issue. Across the range, the Sorento has a towing rate of 2000 kg braked and 750 kg unbraked.

The six-speed auto is a nice match for the engine and is smooth across the board. This little diesel really is a great package. It is barely intrusive and simply gets the job done with a minimum of fuss. Vision is good overall, but the A-pillar can cause a slight blind spot.

Design

Sorento AWD comes in three specification levels Si, SLi and Platinum. Splashes of chrome around the Platinum edition Sorento add a touch of exterior class. In particular we like the treatment around the headlamps, grille and fog lamps.

It is subtle and not overdone, yet recognising that chrome is back in fashion. Sorento's profile is fairly standard with a nice shoulder line, but has individuality thanks to a switch-back at the A-pillar. The rear end is dominated by large stop light lenses.

The Sorento is classified as a large SUV, but could easily be tagged as a people-mover for adventurous families. With the first two rows of seats up there is 1047 litres of usable cargo space – enough for a family of five to go on annual holidays. If you need more seats the 50/50 split third row rises up from the floor, although this reduces the cargo area to just 285 litres.

This third row of seats has a foot well, but there’s limited leg or knee space, strictly the kids domain only. Access to the third row is made possible by folding either side of the 60/40 split second row seat back, with the seat base then tumbling forward. Both the second and third rows of seats have their own air conditioning vents.

We love simplicity. You should not have to scratch around in a car to find the basics, as you do with some European brands. Kia Sorento excels in this area without compromising style but adding to practicality.

The seats are comfortable in a lounge-room kind of way, the driving position can be tailored to most drivers thanks to power height adjustment on the seat and height and reach on the steering wheel and there are oodles of storage spaces throughout the vehicle.

The key features we use - audio and air-conditioning - are user friendly and the steering wheel has remote audio as well as cruise control functions. What we would like to see is the computer functions button also located on the steering wheel instead of in the instrument binnacle.

Safety

Kia’s Sorento has a five-star ANCAP rating. For those who venture off-road there's hill descent control and hill start. The headlights have an automatic function and there's six airbags including full-length curtain.

Driving

In normal driving conditions Sorento is in front wheel drive mode and when slippage is detected torque is shared between the front and back wheels. When driving off-road or on slippery surfaces there's a push-button centre diff lock switch on the lower dash to ensure all four wheels are driven.

With no dual-range transmission and a moderate ground clearance of 184 mm, Kia Sorento comes clearly into the realm of large soft-roader. The fact that it has an AWD centre diff lock button means some off-roading is on the menu as long as it does not include serious rock-hopping or deep, rutted tracks or the like. Still, it probably does everything the adventurous family is likely to demand of it.

On road, the suspension is a little soft and there's a fair bit of body roll on sharp corners. As a family wagon these are minor issues that will not concern the majority of drivers. We are not fans of the parking brake being foot operated, particularly when it never seems to do the job at 100 per cent, no matter how hard you kick it.

The Platinum is fitted with 18-inch wheels which we think gives excessive feedback over uneven roads. It would be interesting to put an SLi Sorento over the same roads, with the SLi having 17 inch rims. What we do like is all variants have full-size matching spare wheels.

Verdict

If you are looking for a vehicle in this segment Kia Sorento is a must try vehicle.

Pricing guides

$15,863
Based on 66 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$10,500
Highest Price
$23,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Platinum (4x4) 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $12,800 – 18,480 2012 Kia Sorento 2012 Platinum (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Platinum Global Circuit (4x4) 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $14,800 – 20,900 2012 Kia Sorento 2012 Platinum Global Circuit (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Si (4x2) 3.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $9,200 – 13,860 2012 Kia Sorento 2012 Si (4x2) Pricing and Specs
Si (4x4) 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $10,700 – 15,730 2012 Kia Sorento 2012 Si (4x4) Pricing and Specs