Kia’s Sorento is a spacious, well appointed, and in diesel form, a gutsy SUV which you can have for under RM200,000. With its 2018 updates, the overall package has improved a great deal in terms of tech, trim and features. But what exactly do you get for RM178,788 in the form of Kia’s flagship SUV? To answer that question, we packed our crew and gear and headed up to Malaysia’s favorite hill station, Cameron Highlands.
Bright eyes and tiger nose
From the outside, the first things you will notice is the design of the headlamps. Its now more sharper and have individual light projectors that are very good at illuminating the way. However be advised, despite getting a message saying that the headlamp is adjusted to not disturb oncoming traffic, it was still a little too bright for oncoming traffic. Another prominent feature of the new Sorento is its front grille. Designed to look like a Tiger’s nose, it’s change may be subtle, but the end result is very smart.
Along with that, is the 4 cube foglamp and the update for the rear LED tail lamps. The final piece of the makeover is the massive 19 inch rims, which sport a newer design. Its a clean 5 spoke design that does not overpower the rest of the exterior design, but subtle enough to create presence. What are your thoughts about the exterior of the Kia Sorento? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Spacious and Stylish Interior
Kia has come a long way in terms of interior. If you were to carry out a blind test, we bet that you could easily mistake it to a continental car’s interior. The instrument cluster is a mix of analog and digital displays, showing various functions like drive modes, power distribution, and consumption figures. The display itself is clear to read and logical in layout.
Thanks to its generous proportions, the car offers quite alot of space. At 4780mm, its 10mm longer than the Hyundai Santa Fe, and a whopping 139mm longer than the Peugeot 5008. Its also the tallest car out of the aforementioned 7 seat SUV’s. The wheelbase of the Sorento is 15mm longer than the Santa Fe, but its 60mm shorter than the Peugeot 5008. This is really evident with the amount of space you have on the cabin of the Kia Sorento.
The last row is spacious enough for a 6 footer to sit comfortably. The mid row seats and the front seats are no exception. The car managed to carry all 5 of us and our filming and Coleman gears without any issues in total comfort, like what you can see here. Its a workhorse indeed.
The Sorento is not just about big dimensions and a brawny engine. Its quite clever too, with everything from an on-demand 4wd system that sends power to the rear wheels when needed, tire pressure monitoring sensors with pressure readouts, and variable drive mode selector. You can control and monitor most of these functions via a color display which sits within the speedometer. You can even control how your trip computer resets, where it can reset itself each time you fill up the tank!
The infotainment system is managed via a 7 inch screen with shortcut buttons all around. The system offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Its a decent and responsive system, with all the basics covered. However we wish the screen and fonts can be a little bigger to make it easier to operate. Its handy to know that the car comes with a wireless charging system, so you don’t have to scurry about for a charging cable.
The mission: Chasing Mossy Forest
Its established that the Kia Sorento is a well appointed and spacious 7 seat SUV, which ticks a whole lot of boxes. However, does it work as a proper Sports Utility Vehicle? To find the answer and to see how well the Kia Sorento in diesel form works in the real world, we decided to trek up Cameron Highlands, and onwards to the Mossy Forest on Gunung Brinchang.
Powered by a 2.2 liter turbodiesel engine, the Kia Sorento has 200ps of power and 440Nm of torque, which is sent to the ground using an updated 8 speed gearbox and the adaptive 4 wheel drive system. The 4WD system works beautifully on the road, providing plenty of grip for this heavyweight SUV on the twisty roads. The access road to the Mossy Forest to be in good condition. However rain and erosion caused it to deteriorate in a bad way. With on going roadworks, its not a route we would recommend to regular car owners. In fact most of the tour companies here choose to use Land Rover’s and Pick up trucks to get visitors up the slope.
Thanks to the raised suspension, 55 series tyres, and that adaptive 4wd system. the Sorento managed to climb up the steep slope with relative ease. We did not feel much of the bumps and crashes. However on the steepest of the hills, where there was either mud or gravel, the wheels did slip a little. Despite having a locking center differential function, we would not recommend the Kia Sorento for hardcore off-roading. The road tyres, together with the limited wheel articulation angle does not do it any favors on loose surfaces and tricky terrain. It was quite the experience for us as we carefully took this SUV that barely clocked in 1200km onto this challenging terrain. It was a complete relive when we finally got to the top and reached the mossy forest.
As we basked under the highland sun with our Coleman gear and the Kia Sorento at the back, we all agreed that this is indeed an SUV. As a 7 seat family runnabout that require occasional traversing of unpaved roads, this diesel powered Sorento is spot on. The 4wd system provides plenty of grip and security on the roads even during thunderstorms.
Travelling from the Karak Toll to Cameron Highlands via Simpang Pulai and back, the Sorento still had 2 bars of diesel left in its tank, which according to the trip meter was good for another 250km. The consumption on the trip meter showed a respectable 8 liters / 100km when we reached Ringlet from Gombak via Simpang Pulai. This is despite gunning it in Sports mode.
The Kia Sorento is a perfect example of how far Korean automotive engineering has come about. For those who are seeking for a 7 seat SUV that does long distance driving with ease and still feel secure in tricky conditions, then its worth taking this Kia for a test drive. What are your thoughts about the Kia Sorento? Share your thoughts in the comments below!