Consistency is the name of the game in winning an Australiaís Best Cars category, and mid-sized SUVís is no different. Although not topping the tables in any of the three scoring categories, this didnít prove an obstacle for Kia Sorento to accumulate more than enough points to be a clear winner for the second year in a row, adding further kudos to one of the most improved automotive manufacturing brands globally.
Class leading running and repair costs as well as above average score for Kiaís five year unlimited kilometres warranty provide a solid footing in value for money stakes. Sorento takes a bit of a hit in depreciation compared to similar priced vehicles from other makes, but the judges rated build and finish quality well above average so we would expect resale to improve in the coming years.
Powered by a 2.2 litre diesel engine matched nicely to an in-house designed six-speed auto transmission, it effortlessly eats up the highway kilometres. Engine noise is well suppressed at highway speeds and although you do hear the diesel clatter in stop start driving it is never intrusive. With 145kW of power and 422Nm of torque on tap from 1,800 rpm, Sorento is never short of grunt to get you moving, but not sacrificing economy returning an official combined cycle of 7.4L/100km. Off road performance was equally impressive with the ability to lock in the all-wheel-drive mode and engage hill descent control for those steeper slopes.
An area where Kia has improved significantly, which also assisted the Sorento getting over the top of its cousin Santa Fe, was ride and handling. There was clear separation between the two in this area with Sorento offering a firmer and more compliant ride and better steering characteristics.
The judges liked the ergonomics of the Sorento everything fell to hand easily with buttons and controls easily distinguishable and tactile in operation. The positioning of the foot operated park brake was the only negative comment on ergonomics. Sorento offers seating for seven although the third row would be more suited to children. The adults up front are catered for in comfortable and supportive seats with the driver getting an eight-way adjustable seat including lumbar support. Second row passengers have the ability to recline their backrest for increased comfort with more than adequate rear seat leg room.
Sorento matches other finalists for space and is only shaded in this category by Ford Territory. When the Sorento is in five seat configuration, rear luggage space is ample with the rear door offering good access with the third row seats fold flat under the floor and out of the way. A full size spare is located under the rear of the vehicle.
Sorento boasts modern, powerful and economical drivetrains, high levels of occupant safety, a fantastic value for money equation, almost best in class warranty and more recently coming to grips with ride and handling on our unique Australian roads. Kia has come of age having left that cheap and cheerful image behind with the engineering, design and style to take the fight right up to the big boys.
Kia Sorrento SLi
Hyundai Santa Fe R Series Elite
Subaru Outback 2.5i
2010 - Kia Sorento SLi
2009 - Subaru Outback 2.5i