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Kia Sorento 2021 review: Sport+ diesel

New and improved, the Sorento is as stylish as it is practical.

The new Kia Sorento is causing a lot of buzz and it’s not hard to see why. A new interior design with a much more streamlined, better looking tech system and new exterior as well, and this seven-seat SUV has a lot to sing about. It costs around $3000 more than the old Sorento, but it does boast more features. 

I test drove the Sorento Sport+ which is second from the top in a range of four, in the AWD diesel version. 

It costs around $55,850, before on road costs and competes with cars like the Mazda CX-9, Hyundai Santa Fe, the Toyota Kluger. Here’s how it did over seven days for this week’s family review. 

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✅ What does it look like?

The exterior has had a total workover and is now, suddenly, cool. It’s less beefy than the previous model, sleeker and more modern. There is still the recognisable Kia grille but there’s not so much of it. The improvements to the exterior are subtle but have big impact.

Inside gets a new look, too, and in this model you’ll find leather seats and leather steering wheel that both feel premium and there are a load of new finishings which really take the design to a whole other level. 

The new Kia Sorento is causing a lot of buzz and it’s not hard to see why. The new Kia Sorento is causing a lot of buzz and it’s not hard to see why.

There are huge brushed metallic door handles, the size of which is totally unnecessary but they look fab and that’s the point of them.

The biggest improvement, compared to the previous model, is the lack of buttons on the centre console. This whole area used to be quite messy with multiple buttons and now it’s clean and modern. Everything has been simplified which means it’s also easier to use. 

There are brushed metal trims throughout, along with feature panels, and overall, the design makes you feel good while driving it.

The exterior has had a total workover and is now, suddenly, cool. The exterior has had a total workover and is now, suddenly, cool.

✅ How spacious is it?

It’s a sizeable car, inside and out, so it feels spacious sitting in the front. There’s loads of leg and head room, and plenty of room between the passenger and the driver. 

The back seat has enough room for three children to sit comfortably across. My kids easily climbed up into their seats in the back and were happy there all week. You can fit a third child seat across the centre row. I did it with two boosters and a baby capsule. 

  • It’s a sizeable car, inside and out, so it feels spacious sitting in the front. It’s a sizeable car, inside and out, so it feels spacious sitting in the front.
  • The back seat has enough room for three children to sit comfortably across. The back seat has enough room for three children to sit comfortably across.
  • The third row is bigger and easier to get into than the last model. The third row is bigger and easier to get into than the last model.

Adults will have enough room in the back seat. I’m 161cm (5’3”) and there’s enough space between my knees and the seat in front that taller teenagers and adults will actually be comfortable on long journeys. 

The third row is bigger and easier to get into than the last model, but as with most seven-seaters, children will find climbing in a lot more fun than grandparents. The space is actually quite good and you can slide the middle row forward to make more room for legs if you need it. 

  • Space in the boot depends on how you use the car. Space in the boot depends on how you use the car.
  • With the third row in use, the space is only 187L but it’s still an improvement on the old model. With the third row in use, the space is only 187L but it’s still an improvement on the old model.
  • With the third row down you’ll get a very large 616L. With the third row down you’ll get a very large 616L.
  • That will fit a double pram, suitcases or sporting equipment. That will fit a double pram, suitcases or sporting equipment.

Space in the boot depends on how you use the car. With the third row in use, the space is only 187L but it’s still an improvement on the old model and you can fit limited school bags and groceries in there.

With the third row down you’ll get a very large 616L that will fit a double pram, suitcases or sporting equipment. So as always with a seven-seater, if you do have five kids and you’re going on a road trip, you’ll still need to pop luggage on the roof. If you have three kids and under, everything will fit in the car.

✅ What was it like to drive?

Driving the Kia Sorento is a very smooth experience. It’s not often you get such a big car that doesn’t feel big to drive, which really, I think is the key.

To make the car feel like a smaller vehicle and not like a clunky SUV is a great thing to pull off. The Sorento is only slightly hefty on take-off and the steering isn’t heavy either. 

To power it there’s a 2.2L, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. You do have a petrol option, too, but none of the petrol engines are AWD, petrol Sorentos are FWD.

This AWD version gets up hills easily plus cruises nicely along highways and it’s not as loud as you’d expect from a diesel engine

Fuel consumption is a claimed 6.1L/100km - that’s thanks to the diesel engine - and I did an average this week of 8.4L/100km

And parking, though in a large car, is actually fine. The steering turns nicely and you can accurately place the car where you need it to go. There’s a good reverse parking camera to help you out. 

✅ How easy is it to use every day?

The front seats are power adjustable and heated. There is dual-zone air conditioning with directional air vents in all three rows.

You get two cupholders in the front with a spot for keys and a phone, a centre storage bin plus bottle holders in the doors.

There are four, yes four, cupholders in the middle row, and two cupholders in the third row, taking the grand total to eight cupholders in the car.

And there are just as many USB ports: three in the front, three in the centre and two in the back, so there won't be any arguments about charging devices in this car.

✅ How safe is it?

As far as safety goes, the advanced features come standard and includes all the important stuff like auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, collision warnings, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and rear cross traffic alert. 

You’ll get airbags to cover driver and front passenger and side curtain airbags that extend to the back row, but it doesn’t cover right to the back of the car, so it won’t protect the heads of any precious people sitting back there.

This means that I’d be hesitant about putting my children in the third row full-time and would more use this car as a five-seater with those two back seats as spares. There’s an extra airbag in between driver and front passenger. 

You will however, get four ISOFIX points and five top tether points to fix kids car seats in safely. The new Sorento has yet to be ANCAP tested.

✅ What’s the tech like?

✅ How much does it cost to own?

The Kia Sorento Sport+ costs $55,850, before on road costs. Fuel consumption is a claimed 6.1L/100km and I did an average of 8.4L/100km this week. 

It's covered by Kia's seven year/unlimited km warranty and servicing is recommended every 12 months/15,000km.


The Wrap

The Kia Sorento Sport+ is a great family car with plenty of space and it really feels good to drive. There’s a brand new stylish design, loads of boot space when the back seats are down, and a much more streamlined tech system. It's one of those cars that has all your bases covered. 

I gave it a family rating of 8.1 out of 10 and my kids gave it the same, they love having extra seats in the back.

Likes

New streamlined design
Smooth drive
Interior space

Dislikes

No full airbag for third row
Modest boot space with all seats raised
Slightly hefty on take-off

Scores

Nedahl:

4.1

The Kids:

4.1

$52,850

Based on new car retail price