Kia's new SUV hits the streets

2013-03-14 14:09

Since Peter Schreyer joined the Kia team as chief designer the Korean automaker has been pushing out some really good-looking cars. This the third-generation Sorento is one such.

Kia SA’s genial CEO Ray Levin admitted that sales would probably be stable through 2013 as stock supplies were limited - Kia prefers quality over quantity - and the automaker is subject to 10-15% price increases, they’re hopeful the new Sorento will brighten their days.

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Considering how boxy and bland that first generation was - the term 'ou doos' is a perfect description - the latest model has some good styling notches.

The previous model was launched locally in 2010 and although it was a vast improvement over the first generation this one takes its design traits to a whole new level.  Gone are those chunky rear lights and the somewhat weird shape the car tried to wedge itself into at the front. Everything seems to have been streamlined, chiselled down.

The car is completely redesigned with a new front bumper, the distinctive tiger's-nose grille, LED headlights and vertical fogs while the rear has a new tail door with sleeker LED tail lights.


Kia SA says the previous eight-strong range has been trimmed to two: the lower-specced of the two is a two-wheel drive, while the second an all-wheel drive with all the trimmings – R80 000 worth - but what’s cool is that the two-wheel drive is priced the same as three years earlier at about R400 000.

Slotting in above the Sportage, the Sorento will compete directly against popular models in the market such as Honda's CR-V, Chevrolet's Captiva and Hyundai's  Sante Fe, and it’s going to have a tough job standing out against its rivals, despite its good looks.


There are enough standard niceties in the entry-level model to keep the average Bob happy: cruise control, audio steering controls, dual airconl, parking radar, leather upholstery...  For the extra bucks on the more expensive model you'll get a sunroof, keyless entry, high-intensity discharge xenon headlights, alloy pedals, a touch-screen radio display, stop/start engine button, rear-view camera, Bluetooth  and a third row of two seats.

As Levin said: “What you see is what you're paying for and that’s why we’ve brought the range down to two models because most of the features included in the car – even on the cheaper model – are what is expected to be in it already."

The only way to tell the two models apart externally is to look for the 18” rims on the 2WD or 10-spoked 19” alloys on the AWD.

We drove the higher-spec model during the launch in Johannesburg so when stepping into the car I found rich leather seats. Everything else my hands ran over had soft touches; no cheap plastics in sight.


My favourite item was the ventilation and heating available in those front seats. Talk about chilling your cheeks on a hot Highveld day...

There’s also a nifty, digital instrument cluster. While it looks great and displays loads of information it's also too much of a distraction. I kept wanting to scroll through the display options instead of focusing on the road. I hope that novelty will wear off soon should you buy one.

When the rear seats are folded flat there’s enough room for a hen party in the boot. Have them up and you’ll not believe two more seats exist under the floor in the AWD model, especially as the car is 10mm lower. Leg and head room are not as accommodating as you’d find in other seven-seaters.


Under the bonnet there’s the same 2.2 TCI (turbocharged intercooler) diesel engine found in the previous model, making the same 147kW and 436Nm from 1800-2500rpm as before. While the engine is the same, it's been tweaked to be more eco-friendly thanks to a new exhaust system which reduces nitrogen oxide and carbon emissions.

According to Kia SA, other carried-over technology includes the third-generation 1800-bar common-rail fuel system with piezo-electric injectors, an electronic variable geometry turbocharger and advanced engine control unit with a 32-bit microprocessor.

Both versions of the Sorento have a six-speed auto/manual sequential gearbox which shifts the AWD from 0-100 in 9.9sec, a whole tenth faster than the outgoing model.


I was pretty impressed by how quiet the diesel engine was. My driving partner and I stopped talking and turned down the radio to try and hear anything. It's as quiet as a mouse stealing cheese.

Ride quality is smooth but, thanks to a much-needed urge for a rest-stop, I really took note of how the bumps and twisties of the sweeping Kromdraai road translated into the car. And boy, was there a conversation.

The suspension uses Macpherson struts with coil springs and gas-assisted shock absorbers with an anti-roll bar front and rear. The AWD model adds self-leveling which aid progress through the curves and the 2.2 engine is enough for a quick overtake, with a tad more careful calculation is needed depending whether you’re in auto or manual sequential mode.

The Sorento has 185mm ground clearance - enough for some off-roading or shopping-mall kerbs.

Safety goodies include six airbags, various active and passive safety necessities such as electronic stability control, hill-start assistance, cornering brake control, anti-lock brakes, traction control, roll-over protection and active head restraints.

The car includes a five-year or 150 000km warranty, five-year or 100 000km maintenance plan and three years of roadside assistance.

  • Lourens En Chrisna Kruger - 2013-03-14 15:05

    Can only run on 50 PPM diesel, so no Moz trips or any where far from a 50 PPM diesel pump. Can not even fill up with a bit of normal(500 ppm) diesel just to get to the next pump.

      Maarten Slabbert - 2013-09-25 14:06

      Dude, you deserve to drive a Toyota. Absolutely no imagination. Between you and me... have a look at the new SRX.. it ALSO only runs on 50ppm.

  • Ronald Gibson - 2013-03-14 15:37

    Just a correction on the prices in your article as the 4x2 model never retailed for close to the price mentioned. Currently the Sorento 2.2 4x2 Manual/Auto retail for R368 995 and R378 995. The 2.2 4x4 Auto(top of the range 5 seater) retails for R398 995 and the seven seater R433 995. This means and actual price increase of 8.4% on the 4x2 and 10.9% on the 4x4 seven seater. Suddenly the new Sorento does not seem such a good deal compared to the 2010-present model.

      Graeme Stockwell - 2013-03-15 07:10

      man i wish these reporters would do their homework instead of just printing what kia tells em too.

  • Jacques Malan - 2013-03-14 18:54

    Doesn't look much different .

      de.stig.9 - 2013-03-15 09:57

      i thought it was the old one too

  • Kwashic - 2013-03-14 19:39

    reviewed the first gen for a magazine once and up to this day i still have not yet come across a vehicle with two sun glass holders like it had. very nice touch which is underated like cupholders.

      Mark Singh Singh - 2013-03-15 09:10

      yeah, that extra sun glasses holder makes the R400k price tag even more appealing

  • Tieno Bloubul - 2013-03-14 21:06

    Very good SUV, pitty about the 50ppm only, and getting expensive? I would love Kia to include their 2l petrol turbo with 200kw on tap as in the USA, and drop the useless 3.5l that will come later.

  • Jan H Naude - 2013-03-15 10:43

    Kia's are good vehicles, just a pitty the KIA group cannot get their act together when selling their cars. Tip 1: check the cars history on eNATIS; you may be in for a shock. Tip 2: Check www.hellopeter.com and search for KIA; only the brave will buy.

      Pierre Fourie - 2013-03-15 11:33

      I have had a Kia Optima for almost a year now, and my wife drives the Sorento 2.2 AWD Diesel. She has had it for more than 3 years. We love both cars, and have not experience any problems with the products or dearships. My only complaint would be the Salesmen's lack of "interest" when I bought the Optima. I bought it from them, they did not sell to me, if you know what I mean. But the rest has been great!

      Tieno Bloubul - 2013-03-17 18:55

      Jan, did you actually owe a Kia to make such comments?

      Jan H Naude - 2013-03-18 13:55

      Tieno Someone very close to me does owe one and it is currently a real struggle in sorting this issue out. No problems with the vehicle though.

      Tieno Bloubul - 2013-03-18 17:18

      Jan, happens everywhere, tell your friend to stop being nice and make a big fuss, they usually wake up very quickly when you tell potential customers that you get pathetic service

      Maarten Slabbert - 2013-09-25 14:07

      You see Brutus, it is always my uncles fathers son's wife's gardener, or something stupid like that. Bet you Jan is a Toyota fanboy.

  • dany.duprez.338 - 2013-03-18 10:57

    still a stupid four potter stinking little diesel,where is the 3,5 V6??

      Tieno Bloubul - 2013-03-18 17:20

      Boet, you live in the dark ages. That diesel will kill the old v6 petrol. Vehicles this size need low down torque to get going and the NA petrol only gives it high up in the rev range, thus you have to really wind it to get action, with a horrible consumption with it

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