[This article was first published on sgcarmart.com.]
Sharp looks and a strong suite of driver assistance and practical features make the new Kia Sorento an impressive seven-seater SUV.
Kia has made great strides since its early days, transforming itself from a builder of no-frills vehicles to the accomplished manufacturer it is today, and the latest Sorento makes well sure that both you as well as your entire family take notice.
Sharp creases, muscle car looks
On the outside, the car is now far better looking than its predecessor, with a strong boxy shape and sharp creases throughout, while a subtle bulge on the bonnet hints at the car's power.
The muscle car garnishes continue at the rear of the car as well, with distinctive Ford Mustang-like vertical taillights.
Impressive, yet practical cabin
Step inside the Sorento and you will find an interior that is even more impressive still.
The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster (available on SX Tech Pack variants and above) pairs with the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system to deliver a widescreen experience on the go, much like those offered on luxury models.
The dual screens also free up much of the clutter from the previous Sorento's dashboard layout, so your eyes instead rest upon the mix of silver that frames the air-conditioning vents and the gloss black that finishes the centre console.
But it isn't just all show here. There are plenty of practical touches as well, such as the generous space the cubby holes in the centre console offer, the double magazine pockets behind the front seats, and the raft of USB and 12V ports for both front and second-row passengers.
Those that regularly ferry multiple passengers will be glad to note the car comes with a sliding second row to offer those assigned to the rear a reasonable amount of legroom. There are also additional buttons at the bottom of the second row seats which fold them flat, so even children will be able to help themselves into the rear of the car.
Adults will still find themselves sitting with your knees fairly high up in row three, and headroom is adequate, but the car's small rear windows (a design carryover from its predecessor) can make the atmosphere here rather claustrophobic. Thankfully, third-row air conditioning is available for all customer cars.
Powerful drivetrain, insulated drive
If all that is still not enough to impress, the drive in the Sorento certainly will. The new 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel delivers 200bhp, while 440Nm of torque is available from 1,750rpm, making overtaking a breeze.
Also new is the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, which does allow the revs to build up considerably when driving up ramps in a multistory, but its shifts are still always smooth.
Cabin insulation in the Sorento is excellent, and very apparent from the moment you wind down the window. From the outside, the diesel unit can sound uncouth and strained, but any undue vibration or clatter melts away the moment you shut the doors.
On the go, the bevy of driver assistance features in the Sorento are as chatty and dependable as those found in any product from the Hyundai Group.
The new Blind Spot View Monitor makes lane changes easy, and more than compensates for the obstructed over-the shoulder visibility.
Ride-quality is also excellent, with Kia's new third generation mid-size SUV platform proving to be a highly rigid chassis. Suspension pliancy over bumps is excellent, and the dampers do a good job of arresting body movement on the rebound in the Sorento.
Black fuel, green presidents
Our test drive in the Sorento yielded an average fuel economy figure of 14.0km/L, which should allow you save a reasonable bit at the pumps.
You will, however, invite a $762 extra every year in road tax (against an equivalently sized petrol engine).
But even if you don't cover enough mileage every year to make economical sense out of running a diesel engine, that delicious torque and the full suite of safety features for your family still make the new Kia Sorento well worth it.
[Source article: sgcarmart.com/news/review.php?AID=1671]