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Kia Cerato 2022 review: S sedan

The Kia Cerato S sedan isn't an SUV but it can still handle small-family duties

Does the Kia Cerato sedan make a good family car? Well, I took my family and added them to the entry grade Cerato S sedan and the results are in this review.

We spent a week with what probably isn’t the vehicle most people would think of as a good family car.

The Kia Cerato sedan is not the first car most  Aussies would choose when looking for a family car. (Image: Richard Berry) The Kia Cerato sedan is not the first car most Aussies would choose when looking for a family car. (Image: Richard Berry)

But, if you’re thinking about the Cerato sedan the answer is, yes, it does work as a family car, but there are a few things you should know before you put the money down.

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What does it look like?

A long time ago, back when people regularly let off explosives (okay, fireworks) in their backyards, family cars were mainly sedans and station wagons.

These days SUVs are the go-to for families, and a sedan (especially a small one like this) is not seen as a typical family car. So, choosing the Cerato sedan will set you apart from the mainstream.

Somehow Kia made the sedan version of the Cerato better looking than the hatchback. Just look at the rear shot in the images. See how the boot lid kicks up into a spoiler and how the tail-lights are joined across the tailgate? Nice, eh?

The Cerato is better looking than the hatchback. (Image: Richard Berry) The Cerato is better looking than the hatchback. (Image: Richard Berry)

The front of the Cerato was redesigned to better suit the new Kia badge (I’m not kidding, it was. Read my news story about it) and its face is now sleeker and more modern. And how about that aggro front bumper?

I had trouble getting excited about the side profile, but as I said, it’s much better than the hatch.

Nothing, however, can make those hubcaps look good. Yep, this entry-grade S has hubcaps not alloy wheels.

Hubcaps look cheap and the only good thing about them is that if you scratch them on a gutter while parking you don’t feel anywhere near as bad as you would if they were expensive alloys.

The entry-grade S has hubcaps not alloy wheels. (Image: Richard Berry) The entry-grade S has hubcaps not alloy wheels. (Image: Richard Berry)

The interior of the Cerato S is stylish but not fancy. Well, it is the entry-grade remember, and that means there are a few ‘blanked-out’ panels where, for example, heated seat buttons would reside in higher grades.

There’s an honesty about the cabin, though. You’re not getting loads of luxurious touches but you’re not overpaying for this car, either.

The fabric seats look and feel good, the media screen is adequate, and the controls for the air-conditioning are straightforward.

Not many fancy bits, but not too cheap looking either.  

How does it drive?

Driving with kids is next-level. Only parents will get this. The rest of you have no idea what I mean, but trust us it can be harder and more stressful than almost anything.

It’s important then for a good family car to be as easy to drive as possible and the Cerato is pretty much that. Plus, it’s comfortable and even enjoyable.

If you’re going from an SUV to the Cerato, I reckon you’ll be amazed at how much better this sedan is to drive.

The S has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. (image: Richard Berry) The S has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. (image: Richard Berry)

Sure, you don’t have the high driving position of an SUV but being lower down gives the Cerato a planted, secure feeling that makes for better handling than many taller vehicles.

The S has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine making a reasonable amount of grunt with 112kW/192Nm. This engine is the only option for all Cerato grades, except the top-spec GT-Line which features a sporty turbo-petrol unit.

The transmission is a regular six-speed automatic, which is smooth and doesn’t have the indecisiveness of the GT-Line's dual-clutch. 

How spacious is it?

The Cerato S sedan is small at 4.6m end-to-end, but for a car with these exterior dimensions interior space is good.

There’s plenty of room up front, even for this 191cm Viking descendent, and while back-seat space is tighter, it’s adequate, and I can just fit behind my driving position with adequate headroom.

 Back-seat space is tighter. (Image: Richard Berry) Back-seat space is tighter. (Image: Richard Berry)

Storage is good with four cupholders (two up front and two in the rear fold-down armrest) , a deep centre console bin and large door pockets. I love the shelves in front of the shifter which fit my big phone, too.

The sedan has a 502-litre boot. (Image: Richard Berry) The sedan has a 502-litre boot. (Image: Richard Berry)

The sedan has a 502-litre boot, which is larger than the hatch’s 428-litre cargo capacity. That said, the hatch is more practical for carrying bulkier items thanks to a wider and taller load space.

The sedan has a 502-litre boot, which is larger than the hatch’s 428-litre cargo capacity. (Image: Richard Berry) The sedan has a 502-litre boot, which is larger than the hatch’s 428-litre cargo capacity. (Image: Richard Berry)

We’ve only got one child (a six-year-old tornado), but the Cerato would still be okay for a family with two kids. Any more than that and you’d absolutely have to pick a larger vehicle, like the Kia Carnival.

How easy is it to use every day?

The Cerato S is as fuss-free as they come. I’d say the one thing which prevents the version I tested being any easier to use is that it’s a sedan.

The hatch is more practical, it offers more headroom in the back seats, and I found getting in and out harder in the sedan because of its roofline.

Installing my son’s top-tether car seat was straightforward, but again, even doing this is easier in a hatch.

There are two USB ports and a 12V outlet located in the shelf area in front of the shifter. (Image: Richard Berry) There are two USB ports and a 12V outlet located in the shelf area in front of the shifter. (Image: Richard Berry)

Cabin controls and dials are all within reach and ergonomically well set out, while there are two USB ports and a 12V outlet located in the shelf area in front of the shifter.

Air vents in the second row are family essentials and the Cerato S has them.

How safe is it?

The Cerato S was given four out of a maximum five stars by ANCAP in 2019, the car marked down due to a lack of specific safety tech features.

You can option the Cerato S with a 'Safety Pack' (fitted to our test car) which brings it up to a 2019 ANCAP five-star rating.

Without the Safety Pack the Cerato S come standard with AEB with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assistance, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, and rear occupant alert.

There are front and side airbags for the driver and front passenger while side curtain airbags cover both rows.

The Safety Pack costs $3000, and it adds cyclist detection to the AEB system, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, safe exit warning, adaptive cruise control, as well as folding wing mirrors, an electronic handbrake and a more premium-feeling steering wheel.

Is it worth getting the Safety Pack? It’s the one option box I would tick because the rear cross-traffic system is potentially lifesaving, and the adaptive cruise control is sanity saving on long trips.

For child seats there are two ISOFIX points and three top tether mounts across the back seat.

What’s the tech like?

The Cerato S has pretty minimal tech for a new car. We’re talking an 8.0-inch screen, instead of the 10.25-inch unit in the upper grades. There’s no sat nav, no big digital instrument cluster, no digital radio, or head-up display.

That said, the entry-grade Cerato S does come with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, whereas all the other grades require you to plug in with cable.

The ‘wirelessness’ is a great idea, but in practice I found my phone connection dropped out occasionally.

Two USB ports for charging, a 12V outlet for power and Bluetooth connectivity round out a just adequate tech offering.

How much does it cost to own?

The Kia Cerato S sedan and hatch list for $25,990. That makes it the most affordable Cerato in the range.

My test car was fitted with the $3000 Safety Pack, which is well worth adding if the budget allows.

Kia covers the Cerato with a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which is outstanding.

Servicing is needed annually or every 15,000km, and the servicing costs might surprise you, but not in a good way.

You’re looking at $2000 over five years, which is more than a lot of the Cerato’s rivals cost to service.

Fuel costs can’t be avoided but the Cerato S’s 2.0-litre petrol engine proved to be impressively fuel efficient. After a combination of city streets, suburban driving, and country roads I measured 5.6L/100km at the fuel pump.

The Cerato S’s engine runs happily on regular unleaded petrol, too.


The Wrap

The Cerato S sedan will do the job as a family car with adequate rear legroom even for tall teenagers and adults, good boot space and cabin storage, plus the materials feel hard wearing and are easy to clean.

The hatch version of the Cerato is better suited to a family than the sedan thanks to the increased practicality of the boot and more headroom in the second row.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android are a big plus and will let you use the phone’s navigation and music apps through the media screen.

The Cerato is easy to drive, with good handling and a comfortable ride. This  also make it a great car to learn to drive in. So, if you have older kids who are on their Ls and Ps, the Cerato S is ideal. Just make sure you get the optional Safety Pack. 

Likes

Easy to drive
Spacious for a small car
Better looking than the hatch

Dislikes

Sedan not as practical as hatchback
Has less safety tech than higher grades
Hubcaps!

Scores

Richard:

3

The Kids:

2

$25,990

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.