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Kia Sorento 2008 Review

The roomy Kia Sorento.

But the time has come to send two of our long-term garage residents back home. Kia's surprising Sorento and the polarising Subaru WRX are on their way after giving sterling service. Numerous shopping trips, commutes to work and longer drives down the coast gave the Sorento every chance to prove itself a reliable companion. And on the whole, it did just that.

With the high equipment level, high passenger satisfaction in terms of comfort and high seating position, there was little to complain about. In appearance, it's not the most glamorous SUV around, with its no-frills looks, but it's not really trying to be. The Sorento diesel starts at an affordable $34,990, but our model was the range topper at $44,990.

The only real problem encountered was the “wake up Jeff” cruise control, that would frequently decide to go to sleep on the job.

Cargo room in the rear is good for those successful shopping trips, and packing the whole family on board doesn't turn into a back seat scrum, as there's enough room to ensure everyone rides in reasonable comfort.

The noticeably diesel model averaged about 600km around town on one tank — meaning a fortnightly fuel bill of about $80.

Equipment levels were good with an MP3-compatible CD player, leather trim, a sunroof, dual-control aircon and lots of good safety equipment, including stability control — which, curiously, only works in 2WD — and plenty of airbags. The 2.5-litre, four-cylinder engine isn't the most exciting drive, but is adequate and is at its best when cruising.

The biggest discovery from time spent with the WRX was that you could, indeed, spend time with the WRX. Subaru copped plenty of flak over the decision to “soften” its performance Impreza, but most of that would have to be from those who haven't driven the car and certainly don't use it as a daily drive. Comfortable, compliant, spacious for its class and a stylish interior are things you couldn't have said with a straight face about the previous WRX models.

The little WRX served bravely as a family car, spending most of its time pottering around the shopping centres and schools of suburbia protesting not a whit at being utilised so far inside its performance capabilities. When asked to step up for a country run or a sprint to an appointment the WRX showed it is still an athlete at heart. Overall fuel consumption was a touch higher than the claimed 10.7litresper100km but not excessive and the only issue was a remote key fob that occasionally forgot its job description.

There are no two ways about it, we are really going to miss the WRX.

Staying with us for the while is Chrysler's 300C Touring — cruelly dubbed the Mafia staff car. Living with the 300C is like being in a fishbowl. As you move around you are under constant scrutiny. And, in this fish bowl you're the whale.

The gangster-mobile wagon with its monstrous grille, 18-inch alloy wheels and small rear windows is not easily missed.

Indeed, it's hardly missed at all given the number of heads turning as we have driven it around Sydney over the past few months on this long-term road test.

At first, people usually ask if it is the high-performance SRT-8, a 6.1-litre V8 supercar. However, when they find out it is the V6 diesel with surprisingly good fuel economy their interest grows noticeably stronger.

We've been filling the 71-litre tank about once a fortnight and it's proven good for about nine litres per 100km. The low-down pulling power of the diesel engine and its amazing 510Nm of torque is impressive.

There's no sprightly spring away from traffic lights; instead there is a feeling of tremendous power, ever-increasing as it gradually pulls away. Living with the car has revealed a few problems, such as the awkward set up of driver controls around the steering wheel and dash, poor rear visibility, and the feeling that you are driving a really big car is fairly pronounced at shopping centre car parks.

The leather interior is grey and plain and the rear loading space in the wagon is reduced by side intrusions. However, the second row seats fold down very easily creating much more room.

And while the economic benefits of diesel engines are leading to an upsurge in sales across most market segments, many Sydney service stations haven't moved with the times.

We have found that many diesel pumps are dirty with spilt diesel underfoot and diesel residue on the hoses and nozzles.

All very well if you are in your work overalls refilling a truck, but not so great when you are dressed to the nines heading for a night out in a 300C Touring with its limousine looks.




PRICE: $60,990

ENGINE: 3.0L/V6 CRD turbo diesel, 160kW/510Nm

TRANSMISSION: 5-speed auto

ECONOMY: 8.2L/100km combined claimed




PRICE: $39,990

ENGINE: 2.5L/4-cyl turbo, 169kW/320Nm

TRANSMISSION: 5-speed manual

ECONOMY: 10.7L/100km




PRICE: $44,490

ENGINE: 2.5L/4-cyl turbo diesel, 125kW/392Nm

TRANSMISSION: 5-speed auto

ECONOMY: 9.4L/100km


Pricing Guides

Based on 18 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

(base) 3.5L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $5,610 – 7,920 2008 Kia Sorento 2008 (base) Pricing and Specs
EX 2.5L, Diesel, 5 SP AUTO $6,999 – 9,999 2008 Kia Sorento 2008 EX Pricing and Specs
EX Global Circuit 2.5L, Diesel, 5 SP AUTO $6,380 – 9,020 2008 Kia Sorento 2008 EX Global Circuit Pricing and Specs
EX-L 2.5L, Diesel, 5 SP AUTO $6,999 – 12,990 2008 Kia Sorento 2008 EX-L Pricing and Specs