It’s big, it’s fast, has great road
presence – but it’s no sports car!
However, what it does well is: it drives
like a car, not the hulking big SUV it appears to be.
The secret is that it doesn’t start life like
your normal SUV. In the joint family of Hyundai-Kia models, you may assume that
the Sorento starts life built on the Hyundai Santa Fe SUV platform – but that
would make an ass out of you and me.
So, is this a ‘new build’? Well, yes it is,
but with a different approach.
Kia boxed clever with the 2016 Sorento, by
basing it on the wildly successful Kia Carnival MPV. That’s why this large SUV
drives more like a car, and that quite frankly lifts it head and shoulders over
its main competitors, like the said Santa Fe; plus the Toyota Kluger, Mazda
CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder and Holden Captiva 7.
Outstanding interior finish and great equipment levels emphasize the Sorento's value-for-money pricing
My own comparison test for how well an SUV
drives is the Ford Territory Diesel – which in my opinion is a world class car!
The Sorento compares strongly to my own personal champion.
Sorento's 2.2L turbocharged diesel and six-speed auto are wonderfully-matched for cruising. There's even a noise-insulating cover for the timing belt to reduce NVH!
The Sorento’s challengers listed above, are
compiled by Kia Motors Australia, all of them in the segment occupied by
Sorento – but sincerely, I would rank the Kia alongside the famed Audi Q7.
I’m the first to admit the Kia doesn’t have
the cachet of the Audi, but if commonsense counts for anything, you get an
outstanding, well-built SUV for around AUD$57,000 up against the German import price-tagged
That’s why the roomy, seven-seat Kia
Sorento won the Car of The Year prize from Cars Guide here in Australia. It is
outstanding value! And, yes, it is THAT good!
I cannot emphasize too strongly the improvement in the quality of the materials, the fit, the finish and the attention to details.
This is a company of people who are learning fast, paying attention to global competitive standards, and delivering!
As a bonus, the Sorento was designed by
ex-Audi designer, Peter Schreyer – that’s got to count for something in a
comparison with the Q7.
However, moving away from parochial geographical
considerations for a moment helps you understand just why this latest SUV from
Kia is so good. Yes, it’s got segment competitors in every market it sells in,
but the key to its fit, finish and quality are its American competitors.
|A nice touch - the Schreyer-designed 'Diamond Grille'. Haven't we seen this idea before?|
The U.S. is a huge market for SUVs and up
against the established strong local players from GM, Ford and Chrysler, Kia
decided it had to go all out to beat its Yankee competitors.
|The feel and finish is great!|
|It's not just great materials, but brand-name equipment like the Infinity audio system!|
The fiercely competitive SUV market in
the USA is almost 2 million units a year, so even 10% or 5% of that market makes the
massive investment Kia has made in tooling; higher quality materials; testing and tuning for
the new Sorento, worth it! YTD SUV sales in the USA were up 10.4% to around 1.5
In its segment in the USA, Kia’s Sorento is
beaten by strong, well-established Japanese competitors from Honda, Nissan and Toyota, and even
its stablemate the Hyundai Santa Fe. So, commercial pressure dictated a bigger
spend, a better vehicle and already that’s paying off with US car reviewers
ranking the Sorento way out in front on fit, finish, ride comfort and ease of
I think this investment will pay off big
time for Kia in Australia too, because the company is steadily driving towards
a perception of offering premium vehicles plus value for money – a market spot
it has coveted for a long time.
soon on Driving & Life is a review of the Kia Optima GT sedan,
which further underscores Kia Motors’ serious attempt to shift buyer
perceptions from ’cheap Korean’ to ‘Quality Competitor’