|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
The Kia Sorento offers a dynamic presence thanks to its angular lines. The large flared-back headlamps, squared-off faux brake ducts (or fog lamps on higher-end models) and rounded nose convey strength and authority. It looks visually wider than it seems because of the wide “Tiger Nose” grille and side mirrors. The black mesh detail in the grille also extends to the lower bumper giving the Sorento a sportier attitude. New LED park lamps create an eyebrow look while projector-style headlamps peer behind the tapered clear lenses. At the back, the new horizontally-positioned tail lamps look to embrace the turn signal and back-up lights. The tapered inner edges also make the Sorento instantly recognizable, especially at night. Overall, it looks every bit like a winner, but if one would be overly critical, the rear reflectors (located on the bumper) look too tacked on. It was probably done to mirror the fog lamp housings in front, but it just looks out of place next to the sleek, angular design. And the 235/65R17 tires also make it look “under tire”—this crossover’s shouting out for 18- or 19-inch rims.
Inside, it’s amazing how Kia has spent tremendous resources to update the Sorento’s dashboard. It feels elegant, considering the P 1,265,000 price tag. It feels very consistent with its fit and finish. In order to price the Sorento as low as Kia did, the 2.2 LX makes do without any sort of leather. Nonetheless, the build quality is peerless and the dash material is soft to the touch. The buttons and surrounding trim are finished in a soft, matte plastic finish lending a sense of luxury. The large instrument panel combines easy-to-read numerals with an on-board computer nestled in the trip/odometer cluster. The center console has modern, large, and easy-to-use buttons arranged ergonomically. The single-zone manual air conditioning with second-row vents is powerful. The center console also has two cup holders with a nifty retractable lid and a large armrest storage bin enough to hold a lady’s purse. In terms of audio entertainment, the Sorento features a full suite of inputs including USB. Unfortunately, the 6-speaker sound system is barely passable in aural quality.
Another way Kia cut the Sorento’s price down is through the removal of the third-row seats. In fact, for 2014, the Sorento is almost purely a 5-seater mid-sized crossover with the exception of the P 1,905,000 2.2 EX. This may seem like a downer, but considering the “bang for the buck” size the Sorento offers, anyone will be forgiving of this shortcoming. As a 5-seater crossover, the Sorento offers a generous interior with an equally cavernous luggage space. The front seats are supportive and offer a wealth of adjustments including a tilt/telescopic steering wheel. The second row is wide and has adjustable seatbacks and headrests for all. The loading area is flat and in place of the third-row seats, it offers 515 liters of space, but that’s not counting the large under floor storage bins. However, with the second row seats folded flat, it grows to 1,530 liters.
If the engine is considered to be the heart of any vehicle, it’s safe to assume that the Kia Sorento has a powerful ticker. The 2.2-liter 4-cylinder “R” diesel produces a smooth 197 horsepower and a stout 436 Nm of torque. Step on the accelerator and it surprises with a quick burst of speed. It’s enough to shove people into their seats while chirping the front tires. The 6-speed automatic is well-mated to the engine and delivers an equally satisfyingly experience. There’s a manual shift override, but there’s little need for it, as the gearbox is adaptable. However, even if it’s the same drivetrain shared with its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Santa Fe, the Sorento doesn’t seem to have the same levels of NVH isolation. This makes the Kia sound less than refined, especially at idle or low-speed driving.
The Kia Sorento has a unique Active Eco button located just below the shifter. It helps drivers improve fuel economy by noticeably cutting engine performance and limiting torque. According to Kia, it theoretically improves fuel mileage by 11 percent, a figure matched in real-world driving conditions. During a week with the Sorento, it managed 10.30 km/L in pure city driving, a 10.9 percent improvement over a similarly-engined Hyundai Santa Fe 2WD at 9.17 km/L.
The Sorento may have been around for a while, but engineers made sure to improve and enhance the ride and handling. Though these changes aren’t visible, the Sorento rides on an all-new chassis that’s 18 percent stiffer. Furthermore, the front suspension incorporates a new sub-frame cradle while the rear uses new bushings and mounts. It’s surprisingly agile given its size and feels stable through corners. It absorbs bumps very well and the cabin’s almost free from rattles and other unwanted noise despite clocking in more than 12,000 hard kilometers. That said, the steering is numb (but responsive) because it’s still the same motor-driven assist as opposed to the electric power steering on the higher-end models. Front three-quarters visibility is less than excellent because of the thick A-pillars and the brakes have a mushy feel to them, but bite reasonably well. In the safety front, the Sorento comes with four-wheel disc brakes, dual SRS airbags, and anti-lock brakes all as standard equipment. The only thing that’s lacking are back-up sensors, which isn’t a bad thing, especially if you’re used to driving without them.
With its attractive looks and pricing, the Kia Sorento is indeed the modern mid-sized crossover that’s just right for today’s Filipino family. It may have lost the third-row seats and some luxury equipment along the way, but it offers an attractive value proposition unmatched by any other crossover in the segment. It’s got tons of space, comfortable, and quite nice to drive too. Indeed, the Sorento lives up to Kia’s tagline, “The Power to Surprise”.
2014 Kia Sorento LX CRDi 2WD 5-Seater
|Ownership||LX CRDi 2WD 5-Seater|
|Year Introduced||2009 (Facelifted: 2013)|
|Vehicle Classification||Mid-sized Crossover|
|Body Type||5-door crossover|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||Inline 4|
|BHP @ rpm||197 @ 3,800|
|Nm @ rpm||436 @ 2,500|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Diesel|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,706|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Independent, Multi-Link|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||No|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Urethane|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|