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Kia Sorento


Land Rover Discovery Sport

Summary

Kia Sorento

How do you make something that was already great even better?

I'm only asking because the last Kia Sorento had very few faults, and this new one arriving must have set Kia’s engineers a bit of a challenge. Could they improve the little bits that needed fixing while leaving everything that was good about the Sorento alone? Or would tinkering with the winning formula take some of the shine off Kia’s large SUV?

We headed to the launch of the new Sorento to find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type3.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency10L/100km
Seating7 seats

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Land Rover is an interesting beast. For years there was the Defender, then the Range Rover, then the Discovery, and now suddenly there are Land and Range Rovers everywhere.

Add in the Range Rover Evoque, Sport, and Velar, and there's something for just about everyone in this SUV-mad world. If Land Rover's founders were around, they's probably be mildly perplexed.

Despite this two decade old trend, Land Rover has had trouble firing in the mid-size segment. The Freelander was a bit odd-looking, and sadly not good enough for the nameplate to make it to a third generation.

The option was a clean sweep to try and find something suitably rugged or take something already rugged and add a Sport badge to it. The Discovery Sport was born and that gave the brand a new entry point for those who couldn't get away with - or didn't want - an Evoque.

The Discovery Sport has been with us a for a while, so it was time for a check-in on Land Rover's mid-sizer.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency6.4L/100km
Seating7 seats

Verdict

Kia Sorento7.8/10

The Sorento was always great, and Kia could have easily just released an updated car with a new bumper and called it a new model. But the brand has instead jumped in and fixed a few issues that needed addressing, like the ride, the smaller display and the (lack of) safety features.

Now you have an SUV that’s just as practical and good value as the last one, but also one that drives better and is safer, too.

The sweet spot in this Sorento range for me is the SLi petrol. For just $4000 more than the base price this grade comes loaded with features and includes proximity unlocking, auto tailgate and the Harman Kardon stereo.

Would you pick Kia Sorento over a Mazda CX-9 or Toyota Kluger? Tell us what you think in the comments below.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7.4/10

It's a bit of a packing crate on wheels - although less than the Discovery - but looks pretty good while doing it. Even though the base price is attractive, its difficult to see anybody taking a stock SE from the lot and I'd be willing to bet Land Rover would bring in two or three and then spend a year finding buyers for them.

Ultimately, this is a car that covers a lot of ground. It works well in the city, can go much further than most German rivals could hope to (would you cross the Simpson in BMW, Merc or Audi?) and does it all with exceptional interior comfort.

Is the Discovery Sport worthy of the first part of its name? Let us know in the comnments below.

Design

Kia Sorento7/10

If you can spot the difference between this new Sorento and the previous one, write in and we’ll give you a hat. That is, if we have any left. Which we probably will because we have a lot of hats, and because the differences aren’t too easy to spot.

Look, I’ll even give you a clue; the grille is glitzier, the headlights have been redesigned and so have the taillights, the rear bumper has been restyled and all grades now have a chrome exhaust. All grades have new wheel designs, too.

Less boxy than Toyota’s Kluger and more curvaceous than the blade-sharp design of the Mazda CX-9, the Sorento is a good-looking large SUV that has a tough and premium presence on the road.

That premium feel continues into the cabin, with dark textured materials and an excellent fit and finish.

The cockpit isn’t the most modern (compared to, say, the CX-9), but the new eight-inch screen is on the bigger side by current standards, even if its setting and the controls and dials around it are beginning to date. 

You can have your Sorento in any colour as long as it’s grey. Okay, that’s not true, there’s also 'Gravity Blue', 'Snow White Pearl' and 'Clear White', joining a trio of greys; 'Silky Silver', 'Metal Stream' and 'Platinum Graphite'.

The Sorento’s dimensions have changed slightly – this new one is longer by 20mm, now 4800mm end-to-end. The height has stayed the same at 1690mm with roof rails, and its width is still 1890mm. 


Land Rover Discovery Sport8/10

The Discovery Sport's exterior design is pretty much bang-on. The brand has steadily moved away from the square-rigging of the Defender and is entering a fairly happy medium of style and substance. It does look substantial but with the chamfering here, the chiselling there and the (optional) LED daytime running lights, looks thoroughly contemporary without the outright style-chasing of the Rangies.

Inside is a little less inspiring, but again working within how the brand chooses to present itself. Everything works quite well and is very functional and that's exactly how it looks. There are few jarring moments, just nothing spectacular or super-stylish.

Practicality

Kia Sorento8/10

The answer is very. Both head and legroom in the front is excellent, even in sunroof-equipped models, and at 191cm I can sit behind my driving position with about 40mm of space between my knees and the front seatback. 

Headroom in the second row is good, but the same can’t be said for the third row which has limited headspace for me - although legroom can be made better because the second row seats slide forward on rails. That said, I could set the seats - the third row, second row and front row - and sit in them all with a little breathing room. 

With all seats up, though, there’s just 142 litres of room left for luggage. That was enough to fit two airline overhead luggage cases, but if you have a big family and you’re heading away on holiday, you’ll need to invest in a roof pod. A genuine 450-litre Kia pod for the Sorento costs $995.42.

With the third row folded flat the luggage capacity increases to 605 litres, which sounds enormous, but the Mazda CX-9’s is 810 litres.

Cabin storage is great with two cupholders in each row. There’s two large storage trays in the back row, too, plus there’s a giant centre console storage bin big enough to hide a small backpack, great under-dash storage in front of the gear shifter and big bottle holders in all doors.


Land Rover Discovery Sport8/10

It's a lofty cabin, so four on board is a very comfortable proposition. Behind my driving position I chauffeured a 188cm (6'2") gentleman with room to spare, so most teenagers will be more than happy. 

Front, middle and third row dwellers score a pair of cupholders each, for a total of six, with a matching number of bottle holders. Liberally sprinkled through the car are traditional 12V, 5V and USB power supplies, so if you run out, you have Too Many Things To Charge.

Being a Land Rover Discovery, Sport or not, you are not unreasonably expecting plenty of space for outdoor, windswept activities. The boot space kicks off at 829 litres (LR quotes 981, I suspect that is packed floor to ceiling), with a maximum of 1698 litres with all seats folded away.

All four doors open wide, it's easy to load kids and you can slide the middle row forward and back to bring the kids within striking distance, er, closer to your love.

Kerb-to-kerb you'll turn it around without hitting anything in a biggish 11.7m, requiring another 20cm if you're suffering an Austin Powers stuck-between-two-walls moment. You can also wade in up to 600mm (without me, if that's okay) and ground clearance is 221mm. Approach angle is 23.4 degrees with a ramp angle of 20.0 degrees and departure of 31.0 degrees.

Price and features

Kia Sorento8/10

There are four levels in the Sorento line-up. It starts with the petrol Si, which lists for $42,990 ($45,490 for the diesel), then steps up to the Sport for $44,990 (the diesel is $48,490), the SLi for $46,990 ($50,490 for the diesel), and the-top-of-the-range (and diesel-only) GT-Line for $58,990.

Prices have increased over the previous Sorento, with the GT-Line now $500 more expensive, the SLi price is up by $1000, the Sport (which used to be the SLi Limited) is up by a $1000 and the Si petrol is $2000 more.

Those prices are pretty much bang-on what Mazda is asking for the CX-9, what Toyota wants for its Kluger or what Hyundai is asking for its Santa Fe.

A $60k list price is a decent chunk of moolah to hand over, but if you have a look at the specification sheet it’ll take you about 1.5 seconds to see that the entry grade Si comes loaded with features and possibly everything you’d want anyway, so there is really no need to bother with options.

The Si has the same eight-inch display that comes standard across the range, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a six-speaker stereo with digital radio. There’s also nav, a reversing camera, dual-zone climate, auto headlights with LED DRLs, roof rails, a rear spoiler and 17-inch alloy wheels. 

The Si also comes with a barrage of new advanced safety equipment which you can read all about below.

The Sport is the Si but with 18-inch alloys and leather seats. Then stepping up into the SLi adds a 10-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, proximity unlocking, auto tailgate, powered front seats, tinted rear glass, alloy pedals, LED taillights, alloy treadplates and faux-wood trim on the centre console.

The GT-Line is swamped with even more features. Things like heated front and rear seats, panoramic sun roof, 360 camera, LED ‘bending’ headlights, a heated steering wheel, window sunshades in the second row, dual chrome exhaust and 19-inch alloy wheels. None of it is necessary, but all of it is nice to have.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

The Discovery Sport comes in three trim levels with up to five engine tunes. Our week was spent with the entry-level SE spec (which is followed by HSE and HSE Luxury, a familiar pattern across Jaguar Land Rover) and the perky 177kW SD4 turbo-diesel.

You have a choice of three diesels - TD4 110, TD4 132 and SD4 177, as well as two petrols - Si 4 177kW and 213kW.

The SD4 SE weighs in at $66,455, a chunky $9860 more than the cheapest, 110kW SE. For that you get the strongman engine, a 10-speaker Meridian-branded stereo, 18-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, a well stocked safety list, reversing camera, sat nav, keyless entry and start, rear parking sensors, cruise control, auto wipers and headlights, electric front seats, partial leather trim, folding heated mirrors, electric tailgate, variable ratio power steering and a full size alloy spare.

There are a truckload of options available and Land Rover never disappoints with its choice of inclusions on press cars. We had the '5+2' seating ($3400), 'Black Pack' exterior ($1160), head up display ($1590), 'Entertainment Pack' (17 speakers, 'Navigation pro', $3750), metallic paint ($1370), 'Blind Spot Monitor' and reverse cross traffic alert ($1210), 12 way electric front seats ($1130), black roof ($970)... look, it went on for a bit and landed the car as tested at $86,485.

To be fair, most of the stuff was cosmetic or convenience, but the blind spot and RTCA being options is a tad rugged.

The 'InControl' screen is a healthy 10.0-inch unit and runs a fairly useable iteration of JLR's own software. As things go, it's not too bad but there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (yet). The sat nav input is still maddeningly slow, however.

Engine & trans

Kia Sorento7/10

Simple – two engines: a diesel and a petrol. The diesel is a turbo four cylinder which makes 147kW and 441Nm, while the petrol is a V6 which makes 206kW and 335Nm.

The petrol Sorentos are front-wheel drive and the diesels are all-wheel drive. There’s no manual gearbox but the six-speed automatic transmission from the old car has been replaced by an eight-speed unit. 

The 3.5-litre V6 petrol is a new engine (the previous one was a 3.3-litre unit).


Land Rover Discovery Sport8/10

The SD4 unit is JLR's own 'Ingenium' unit. A 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, good for 177kW and a brawny 500Nm. Power and road meet via all four wheels and a nine-speed automatic transmission.

The benchmark run from 0-100km/h is dispatched in 7.5 seconds, which is swift enough and not bad for 1.9 tonnes of SUV. The Disco Sport is rated to tow 2500kg of braked trailer and 750kg unbraked.

Fuel consumption

Kia Sorento7/10

The petrol engine is thirstier than the diesel, but not by as much as I’d have expected. We drove both on similar roads at the launch of the new Sorento and the V6 was using an average of 9.5L/100km according to the trip computer after crawling through Sydney’s urban streets, then onto highways before climbing the winding roads into the Blue Mountains. That’s lower than the 10.0L/100km that Kia reckons the V6 should use in combined driving conditions. 

The diesel engine was using an average of 8.2L/100km on mainly country roads. Remember, though, that the diesel is an all-wheel drive. Kia says 7.2L/100km is the official fuel figure.

Then from Katoomba in the Blue Mountains to Sydney airport, the V6 petrol used an average of 7.8L/100km.

You should also know that even though the V6 is bigger than the previous one it only drinks 0.1L/100km more fuel.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

Land Rover claims the Discovery Sport will sip 6.4L/100km on the combined cycle. The best we could manage was an even 10.0L/100km in a mix of suburban and freeway running (split about 70/30).

Driving

Kia Sorento8/10

The previous Sorento had a comfortable ride, which was probably a bit too ‘floaty’ for my liking and the steering felt overly light. Those issues have been rectified in the new Sorento, with suspension adjustments that have reduced body roll in the corners while still keeping the ride super comfy, and new steering which feels a little heavier and more accurate.

I had the chance to spend time in the Si petrol, SLi Petrol and the GT-Line diesel.

I’m a fan of that V6 petrol. The response from the engine is instant, while the power and torque feels abundant. The diesel takes a moment to deliver the grunt and doesn’t run as smoothly as the petrol.

Here’s something a bit unexpected; I found the seating position in the base spec Si better than the top grade GT-Line. The manually adjustable seats in the Si could be set lower, while the power adjustable ones in the GT-Line weren’t quite as flexible.

The Sorento is one of the best seven-seat SUVs in this price range to drive. Easy to pilot, plenty of grunt and with good visibility all around.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

You do very much notice that this is a big thing before you even climb aboard. The doors are substantial and could double as Sydney to Hobart spinnakers, the trade-off being huge door apertures making it easy for all shapes and sizes to get in.

CarsGuide's 'Patron saint of Height', Richard Berry, found that out while loading his young son Ed in his own week with a Discovery Sport. My son, who is approaching Richard's height at a rapid rate, found the rear seats equally comfortable.

The driving position is classic 'high and commanding', with a terrific view in all directions and that Land Rover core value of knowing where each of the corners is.

Fire up and the diesel grumbles for a bit before settling down into a whooshy, distant feel. Throttle response is impressive and, as always, the nine-speed transmission manages most of the things you throw it at apart from sudden lift-offs at middling speeds where it can get a bit confused.

Body roll is consistent and well managed by the dampers and springs and if you can find a park big enough, it's easy to place, something magnified by the Kluger we had the week before - that thing is a pain to park because the cameras and mirrors aren't set up to help you.

If you put it into 'Dynamic' mode, things sharpen up and it feels good. It's never going to be super sprightly and you are still driving a very tall car on long travel suspension, but it handles a bit of a push with surprising vigour.

Both ends of the spectrum are largely down to the steering - with a variable rack ratio, the amount of wheel twirling required changes depending on speed, attitude and driving mode.

The ride around town is mostly good, but as with past experience with the optional wheels bolted on, probably a little less plush than you might expect. It does thunk a bit through depressions in the road, but you're well insulated from the predictable tyre noise.

Being a giant sook, I didn't throw the Discovery Sport down an off-road track so I could, a) take it to its limits, and, b) get photos of the car in mud and rivers and stuff.

The first and last thing you notice about the Disco Sport is that it feels like its bigger Discovery sibling when pottering about. Plenty of SUV buyers I talk to love that big lazy feel and the Disco Sport delivers, along with genuine off road capability.

Safety

Kia Sorento8/10

The Sorento scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2015. This new version comes with more advanced safety equipment such as AEB, lane keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control – these are standard across the entire range, too.

The GT-Line comes with more equipment, such as rear cross traffic alert, blind spot warning, and a 360-degree view camera.

If the Sorento was to keep up with rivals like the CX-9, it really needed this advanced safety gear fitted across its range. It's great to see Kia has responded to this need. 

You’ll find three top tether anchor mounts and two ISOFIX points for child seats across the second row only.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

Jaguar Land Rover's Halewood, UK factory fits seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward collision warning, forward AEB, lane departure warning and hill descent control.

The Discovery Sport scored a maximum five ANCAP stars in April 2015. It is worth noting that the side curtain airbags do not reach the third row of seats.

Ownership

Kia Sorento9/10

The Sorento is covered by Kia’s seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. There’s also seven years of capped-price servicing. Servicing is recommended annually or every 15,000km.

The diesel is capped at $403 for the first service, then $471, $465, $664, $454, $570 and $482 for the seventh. The petrol is cheaper to maintain with prices capped at $349 for the first, then $415, $405, $544, $393, $505, and $417.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

Land Rover offers a three-year/100,000km warranty along with roadside assistance extended every time you service the car at an authorised dealer. The package includes extracting you if you're bogged on four-wheel drive tracks.

Service intervals are set at 12 months/16,000km and you can pre-purchase six years of servicing for around $1500.