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Parenthood is a funny thing. And not always in a 'ha ha' way.
There you are one minute, living it large, travelling to amazing locations, climbing the career ladder, partying 'til dawn, with money in the bank, and a fabulous shoe collection. The next you are a parent. And the world changes. Or yours does, in every way.
The flash sporty car makes way for a sedate sedan or SUV. As the kids grow you play taxi driver to not just them, but their friends as well. That seven-seater you scoffed at on your way home from a weekend music festival just a few short years ago, is now a coveted prize.
|Kia Sorento 2017: Platinum (4x4)|
|Engine Type||2.2L turbo|
Allow your imagination to run a bit and it's easy to see how the Sorento's 'Tiger Nose' grille came by its name. More a relaxed, playful tiger, than a ferocious, snarling one, but a tiger all the same.
The Sorento is a handsome looking chap, sleek and sophisticated, sitting low on its haunches, a high belt line adding to a decidedly muscular appearance.
The air of prestige is replicated on the inside where two tone leather, in our test car at least, sat alongside brushed metal highlights and tasteful wood grain. Kia has stepped up a gear here to produce interior delights in line with a post $50,000 price tag, and unsurprisingly, those tend toward subtly suave, rather than bold and brash.
Instrumentation is logical and clear, the climate controls easy to reach on the move, and thanks to a reach and rake adjustable steering wheel, the perfect driving position is (you guessed it) easy to achieve.
The 7.0-inch colour touchscreen may be a tad small for a dash of this size but is nicely integrated into the console, and simple to operate.
Heated and cooled front seats (heated in the second row) are accommodating; long enough under the thigh and wide enough across the shoulders to satisfy most shapes and sizes.
Seven seaters, especially those built in the Kia mould, are nothing if not practical. That easy-fold third row offers a number of efficiencies, especially for larger families, and the one in this Sorento Platinum is sturdy, comfortable, and able to offer reasonable-sized adults acceptable lodgings on shorter trips.
Headroom may get tight, but not neck-crickingly so. Passengers in the third row get cupholders, a storage cubby and climate controls, too.
My girls were quick to avail themselves of the luxuries of the second row, decadently sprawling out in comfort. Window blinds help keep things cool and there are air vents and cupholders, as well deepish door bins that can hold a water bottle, not to mention a healthy number of Pokémon figurines and trainer balls.
There are no built-in DVD players, which didn't bother my chatterboxes, but may be missed by families that regularly take long trips.
Three ISOFIX points in the second row make for the easy installation of child seats, and top tether points on the back of the seat, rather than the floor of the cargo area, means the straps don't impact luggage space.
There are a number storage options for the driver and front passenger, including space in the doors for water bottles, a deep covered centre console box and a couple of cupholders to keep them happy.
With all seven seats in place the boot still manages a healthy 320 litres. This grows to 1077 litres with the 50/50 split third row dropped, and an amazing 2066 if you also lower the 40/20/40 split second row.
The luggage area has two hooks to hang a couple of shopping bags on and a screen and net if you are carrying larger items. The latter two store neatly into the under-floor compartment when not in use.
The second row slides forward and aft to accommodate passengers, while large door openings and lowered seats help with entry and exit. Access to the third row could by sharpened if the second row seats tumbled over instead of just leaning forward.
With only the new GT-Line to keep it from range-topping glory, you'd expect this Platinum spec, which starts from $56,590, to offer up an extensive features list. And it does. Swivelling LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, 19-inch alloys, tri-zone climate control, heated and cooled seats, and a heated steering wheel are just the beginning of this story.
The Sorento also has an impressive glass roof, sunblinds for those in the second row, a reversing camera, all-round parking sensors and powered tailgate. The 7.0-inch colour touchscreen fronts a multimedia system including a premium 10-speaker sound system, MP3 compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity, two USB chargers, and three 12-volt power outlets.
A top-draw safety package (see below) serves to sweeten the deal.
The AWD Sorento Platinum is powered by a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel good for 147kW/441Nm. That torque is available from a low 1750rpm, delivering the grunt needed to move this two tonne SUV along.
A six-speed automatic transmission with Sport mode is an accomplished support and difficult to fault. There are steering wheel paddles if you have occasion to drive this family carrier like a race machine.
The Sorento is also available with a 3.3-litre V6 petrol (199kW/318Nm) but that seems to be the preserve of the front-wheel drive models.
Kia claims a combined economy figure of 7.8L/100km. Over 800km we recorded closer to 8.6L/100km and we're pretty happy with that. The tank holds 71 litres.
The thing about good family cars, like the Sorento, is they're so efficient at going about their business, they allow you to calmly go about yours. On the road, the Sorento is capable and assured, quick to respond, and unflappable when you change your mind.
It's quiet, thanks to increased dashboard insulation, with reinforced transmission and rear suspension bushes helping to nullify vibration and harshness.
Braking is good and the Sorento is easy to manoeuvre in the confines of a busy city.
Localised suspension tune makes for a super comfortable ride, with the Sorento able to make short work of all but the most aggressive bumps. Naturally, given its size, there is some lean in the corners but even those movements are controlled with the SUV never giving the impression it's out of sorts.
Braking is good and the Sorento is easy to manoeuvre in the confines of a busy city, around tight traffic circles and even tighter shopping centre car parks. Unlike its Hyundai Santa Fe cousin, the Sorento misses out on an automated parking system, but it's hardly a deal breaker.
While the Sorento does well on secondary tracks, it's not really suited for more serious off-road adventures. The AWD system will send drive mostly to the front wheels in general everyday situations. When cornering quickly, or on loose or wet surfaces, when one or two wheels lose traction, the AWD ability offers assurance.
The Sorento has no centre diff, but at speeds below 40km/h you can lock the drive distribution between the front and back, which can be useful if you are making slow progress on muddy ground or sand.
7 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
This Sorento is a far cry from the first model that could only manage a one-star ANCAP rating when it arrived on these shores more than a decade ago. This car is a high five (the maximum available) and boasts an enviable safety package of active and passive features.
In addition to six airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, AEB and blind spot monitoring, the Sorento Platinum also features, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change assist and adaptive cruise control.
The body of the Sorento now uses almost 53 per cent high tensile steel components giving the shell the extra strength needed to improve occupant safety during a crash.
The Sorento is backed by Kia's trio of seven - seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, seven-year capped-price servicing and seven-year roadside assistance. Service intervals are 12 months or 15,000km.
|GT-LINE (4x4)||2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$43,970 – 49,888||2017 KIA SORENTO 2017 GT-LINE (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|Platinum (4x4)||2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$35,988 – 47,810||2017 KIA SORENTO 2017 Platinum (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|Si (4x2)||3.3L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$27,490 – 29,990||2017 KIA SORENTO 2017 Si (4x2) Pricing and Specs|
|Si (4x4)||2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$30,999 – 35,888||2017 KIA SORENTO 2017 Si (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|
“This tiger may be more at home in the concrete jungle than the forests of Asia, but it has the presence and growl to make people sit up and take notice. It's nice to look at, and easy to drive, with impressive inclusions and a solid safety package. This Sorento Platinum, with its spacious interior, feeling of prestige, and air of sophistication, is a great option for large and growing families.”
Could the Sorento be your next family favourite? Tell us what you think in the comments below.