Reader test: Kia Sorento
In November 2006 I needed a car for work and I needed one fast. I had a choice between an SUV and a bakkie. My price range was between N$300 000 and N$350 000 and I opted for an SUV. (N$ 1 = R 1).
I needed something that had a lot of load space and it had to be a 4X4. My first choice was a Toyota Fortuner, but at that stage the waiting list was six months.
My second choice was the new Hyundai Sante Fe, but it also had a waiting list. So I went to the Kia dealer that had, standing on the floor, a silver Sorento EX Diesel with a sunroof. When the dealer told me that Kia had just introduced the 150 000 km/10 year warranty I could not believe that the Koreans felt so confident in their products.
I had to go up a very steep mountain for my first site survey job and I can assure you the Sorento is definitely no soft off roader. I engaged low range and went up without any problems. The average gradient was about 1:5 and at some places I wished that the bonnet was not so long because I could see only blue sky!
Impressive build quality
The build quality of the Sorento is something that impresses me. Once we went on a trip to Kgalagadi on what must have been the worst corrugated road that I have ever driven in my life! I was glad that I do not have false teeth because it was a teeth-jarring experience. Hail to Kia - not one rattle after the trip.
In December 2008 the Kia dealer offered me a very good deal for a trade in and I now drive an automatic Diesel. I have driven more corrugated gravel roads during the rainy season and, again, no rattles.
Kia has upgraded the wheels from 16 to 17 inch, which I think is a good move. The only thing that they went backwards on is perhaps the CD/MP3 player. On the previous model the aerial only came out when the radio was playing. On this model the aerial comes out even if a disk is in the player. This can be a bit annoying when you are driving in the bush and the branches are hitting it and I also think it can be a strain on the aerial motor.
Fuel consumption is not too bad either. My average is about 10 l/100 km. The automatic is a bit thirstier in town, but on the open road the manual and auto' are about the same.
The only thing that I haven’t tested is the towing ability. I have a roof tent and when my wife and I go camping I just fold the rear seats flat, plug my Engel cooler into one of the three power sockets, load the rest of the camping equipment and enjoy the trip.