Singaporeans are a value-seeking bunch. And even more so when it comes to cars. Sure, a car’s looks and performance are key factors, but so is the item count on the standard equipment list.
I’m like that, too. Because of how much cars cost, seeing a long list of standard fittings makes parting with my money less painful. And the new Kia Sorento doesn’t disappoint where that is concerned.
In recent times, Kia has shown a willingness to spec cars with as many goodies as possible. And it’s pretty much the same story for the largest and costliest Kia available – it comes equipped with features more commonly found on cars costing a lot more.
There is a panoramic sunroof, pull-up blinds for the rear windows, autonomous parking (parallel and reverse) and air-con vents located all around the cabin (yes, even in the third row, which has its own fan-speed control), among other goodies.
The tailgate even has a completely hands-free operation. Simply stand near it with key in hand (or in your pocket) and, after three seconds, it flips open automatically. In addition to all that, the front seats are electrically adjustable (with two memory-position settings for the driver) and come with a ventilation function, a welcome feature in Singapore’s hot, humid weather.
Aside from its equipment list, the new Sorento is talented in other areas as well. On the surface, it seems to resemble its predecessor. But once you start driving it, this vehicle is actually very different – in a good way, of course.
Thanks to how 52.7 percent of its chassis is made of ultra-high-tensile steel (versus 24.4 percent in the preceding model), Kia claims that torsional rigidity has increased by 14 percent. Along with a rear suspension that sports larger bushings and beefier dampers, this endows the new model with decidedly more car-like manners, even on winding roads.
A tall and heavy automobile like a sports utility vehicle is not meant for flinging around sweeping bends or taking tight corners at speed. But should you feel the urge to, this ride acquits itself nicely in those situations. The fact that it is front-wheel-driven (all-wheel-drive Sorentos are available, but not in Singapore) makes its handling ability even more praiseworthy.
There’s inevitable understeer if pushed too hard, but the vehicle never feels unwieldy or uncontrollable. The new electric steering plays a part, too. As the electric motor is located in the steering rack itself, instead of in the column, response is more immediate and feedback is better. While this setup is common in some premium cars, it is a first for the Sorento.
Aside from a keen driving demeanour, the new version rides well even over less-than-perfect surfaces. The fact that it is fitted with 19-inch alloys makes this feat all the more impressive.
Propulsion duties are handled by a 2.4-litre engine with 188bhp and 239Nm, connected to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. While a zero-to-100km/h time of 10.2 seconds is on par with most cars in its class, it is not going to win many traffic-light sprints.
Despite how it will handle well in a pinch, it’s clear this car is built for more practical pursuits, and Kia’s largest SUV scores big there. As before, it seats seven – there’s a spacious second row, though the third row can be a tight fit for occupants above 1.65m tall.
However, given how the cabin is packaged, and considering how it is an SUV, not a multi-purpose vehicle, its spaciousness is admirable. The second-generation Sorento is a roomy car, but the new model goes one further with a 2780mm wheelbase – a generous 80mm increase.
The added space also comes in handy when carrying cargo. Even with the second row of seats up, there’s a whopping 660 litres of luggage space on offer, which is enough for a full-sized mountain bike or around five golf bags.
And the cherry on top of this automobile is how it’s a looker. It has a long bonnet, an oversized “tiger nose” grille, wraparound headlights and a handsome profile with a prominent rising beltline.
It certainly has more road presence than its predecessor, but a car’s good looks alone aren’t enough to make anyone put down money for one. Thankfully for the Sorento, it wins hearts, heads and eyes with its handsome lines, impressive dynamics and lengthy features list.
TYPE Inline-4, 16-valves
BORE X STROKE 88mm x 97mm
COMPRESSION RATIO 11.3:1
MAX POWER 188bhp at 6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 239Nm at 4000rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 110.9bhp per tonne
GEARBOX 6-speed automatic with manual select
DRIVEN WHEELS Front
0-100KM/H 10.2 seconds
TOP SPEED 195km/h
CONSUMPTION 11.4km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 200g/km
FRONT MacPherson struts, coil springs
REAR Double wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar
FRONT / REAR Ventilated discs / Discs
TYPE Kumho Crugen KL33
SIZE 235/55 R19
TRACTION AIDS ABS with VSM
KERB WEIGHT 1695kg
TURNING CIRCLE 11.1m
PRICE INCL. COE $165,999 (no CEVS rebate/surcharge)
WARRANTY 5 years/100,000km
+ Handsome exterior, roomy interior, lengthy equipment list
– Cramped third row (for taller passengers), sluggish acceleration