Mazda CX-9 2018 review
You know what you’re doing, don’t you? Well, you’re here at the Mazda CX-9 range review and we both know that looking for a big, seven-seat SUV doesn’t happen by accident.
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Seven-seat SUVs, once as rare as stegosaurs, and about as attractive, have started to feel like they're a dime a dozen. Truth be told, they are. But if you're on your favourite search engine and looking for a V6-engined seven seat SUV, your options narrow somewhat.
For a start, you've got a few Europeans that are generally north of $100,000 before you can actually drive one out of the lot.
Toyota's Kluger is in the mix but you don't get a lot for your money. What you certainly can't get is a Kluger for $42,990 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (well, not for any price). But you can get a Kia Sorento for that, with those features and rather more besides.
|Kia Sorento 2018: Si (4x2)|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The Sorento got a new face a couple of years ago and it seems to be ageing well. The Schreyer grille still looks terrific, as do the slimmer, smarter headlights. There's no hiding its exterior bulk, though, and it does manage to look slightly under-wheeled on 17s.
Inside isn't exactly avant-garde but is well screwed together. It's entirely conventional and inoffensive, but it won't be a talking point at the Saturday morning sport. It's pretty similar to the exterior - clean, well-executed, understated.
There's a tonne of space inside, and it's flexible. You can slide the middle row back and forth to give the back row more or less legroom.
As it stands, the final row - while not roomy - will take a six-footer like me for short trips, although my knees are quite high. At least I can have my coffee and a cool breeze blowing on my face while the middle-row occupants have good head, leg and shoulder room.
As you might imagine, the interior is huge and packed with storage. Each row scores a pair of cupholders for a total of six and there are four bottle holders.
Unusually/mercifully there are air conditioning vents for all three rows.
The MY18 Sorento Si quickly made its way to Australia after its Frankfurt debut. The big change from MY17 is the shift (sorry) to an eight-speed automatic and the inclusion of a new 8.0-inch touchscreen for media and navigation.
Also onboard are seven seats covered in cloth, 17-inch alloy wheels, a six-speaker stereo, active cruise control, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, AEB, power windows and mirrors and a full-size alloy spare.
The six-speaker stereo features the usual Bluetooth and USB and also has DAB+ digital radio. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are along for the ride, which is still - absurdly - a curiosity at this level.
The Sorento Si has Kia's 3.5-litre V6 driving the front wheels through the company's new eight-speed transmission. Developing 206kW/336Nm, it has almost two tonnes to shift and will pull up to 2000kg.
Kia's claimed combined fuel consumption figure is 10L/100km. Our week with the beast was mostly around town, which explains the sobering 14.1L/100km figure indicated in the dash screen.
Having never driven a V6 Sorento before, I wasn't sure what to expect. Obviously I had an idea of what it might be like - the diesel Sorento I drove last year was a strong performer if a mite clunky, rode well and got on with the job of being an impressive load-hauler.
It's no dynamic wonder, though. Unlike the tauter, tighter Mazda CX-9, the Kia is a far more relaxed affair. The 3.5 V6 is smooth and quiet but doesn't mind a drink, getting you up and moving with minimum fuss. The new eight-speed is better than the six-speed it replaces, which is actually quite a feat because that was a pretty decent transmission.
The suspension is very soft and with the higher-profile tyres (235/65), the ride is actually quite plush, more so even than the Kluger's. Of course that translates to a fair bit of body roll and squealing tyres at moderate cornering speeds.
Obviously it's not built for apex-clipping mayhem, so it's hardly a disappointment. Less disappointing is its hilarious propensity to light up the front tyres if you switch off the traction control, which I did once, purely in the interests of science.
In the main, though, it's quiet, really quiet. Big cars like this aren't always peaceful and comfortable, but the Sorento nails that down very nicely indeed.
7 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
ANCAP re-tested the Sorento in October 2017 and it scored the full five stars.
Kia's massive seven year/unlimited kilometre warranty comes with capped-price servicing for seven years or 105,000km. Over the seven years you'll pay $2681 (average $383 per year), with individual services moving between $252 and $560.
Service intervals come around every year or 15,000km.
As with just about any Kia you care to name, the Sorento is a lot of car for the cash. But it is up against some pretty stiff, if limited competition. The Kia gamely pounds away but you can't really say it's punching above its weight anymore. Kia has matured into a cracker of a car maker, with smart pricing and excellent spec. Plus you know everything just works and you've got seven years of warranty coverage. And if you're not a fan of the petrol and its consumption, spend a few more bucks and you have the ever-impressive diesel.
|Si (4x2)||3.5L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO||$26,900 – 35,640||2018 Kia Sorento 2018 Si (4x2) Pricing and Specs|
|Sport (4X4)||2.2L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$31,900 – 41,800||2018 Kia Sorento 2018 Sport (4X4) Pricing and Specs|
|Si (4x4)||2.2L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$28,500 – 37,730||2018 Kia Sorento 2018 Si (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|Sport (4X2)||3.5L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO||$30,700 – 40,260||2018 Kia Sorento 2018 Sport (4X2) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||7|