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Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Kia Sorento GT-Line Diesel.

This Car Review Is About: A big, comfortable, and very well equipped vehicle from Kia. The top of the range Sorento GT-Line is a diesel powered seven seater that lacks for very little to appeal to those needing a SUV that isn’t intended to be an off-roader. The Sorento range is powered by either a 3.5L V6 or a 2.2L diesel.Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.2L diesel for the GT-Line. It’s a quiet chatterer thanks to a mix of refinement and noise insulation in the engine bay and under the aluminuim bonnet. 147kW is available at 3,800rpm, and a whopping 441Nm of torque on tap between 1,750 rpm and 2,750 rpm. It’s a great long distance hauler, with an easy, loping attitude thanks to a freeway speed ticking the engine over at around 1,500 rpm. Kia quote 6.1L/100km for the highway cycle and this was bettered, albeit by 0.1L/100km. Overall economy, driven mainly in the urban jungle, finished at 8.2L/100km, with Kia’s urban cycle quoted as 9.2L/100km. Transmission is an eight speed auto putting that power and torque down via the front wheels, with torque split to the rear on demand. There is also a diff-lock for the rare excursions into a bit of mud or dirt.What Does It Cost?: $58,990 plus on road costs and metallic paint. That’s just $595. Capped price servicing applies for the seven years of warranty, with a yearly service or 15,000 kilometres. the most expensive service is year 4 at $684. At the time of writing Kia are doing runout deals for the Sorento range.On The Inside It’s: A seven seater with the third row the delightfully simple pull-strap design. A gentle tug, a pull of the strap backwards to lift the seats, or a tug and gentle push to lower them, and it’s something nearly all makers now use. The centre row is bordering on ideal for three adults, it’s certainly fine for two growing children. The left seat is set up to be slid to allow entry for the rear seats, and both centre seats are sliding & folding. The driver has an eight way powered seat, with the front pews heated, vented, and the driver having a heated tiller. Leather seats are a bit cold to touch in the cooler climes however the heaters take the edge off, but the rate of heating could be improved for a more rapid response.The dash is typical Kia but starting to show its age in one area. Manufacturers have moved to the touchscreen being raised up in its own plinth. This is for safety as it’s closer to the driver’s eyeline and not looking downwards. The screen here is super clean, intuitive, and is DAB/Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatible. The DAB tuner has the same issues as the other Kias tested recently, with inconsistent signal acquisition and dropout. The plastics in the Sorento are of an almost leather look and have a fine grained finish to them. Open the front doors and Sorento glows a soft red at night in the sills.The dash display itself lacks a HUD but the dial for the speed is fully digital. It also shows which drive mode the driver has selected from the four available: Smart, Eco, Normal, and Sport. A centre screen section shows info such as range, driving distance, trip meter and economy.Auto headlights, rain sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear vision mirror, rear camera and guidelines, plus 360 degree camera are part of the interior fitment and everything is precisely laid out, showing Kia is well on top of the human engagement part of interior design. The Sorento also comes with a full length glass roof.On the Outside: It’s refinement, refinement, refinement. Compared to a Sorento design of, say, a dozen years ago, it’s recognisable as part of the family but obviously a modern design in its own right. It’s a two box design, with a bonnet that dips towards the imposing Schreyer “Tiger Nose” grille, whilst the body behind the windscreen has a smooth silhouette with a slightly odd angle for the rear window/tailgate. The tail gate is powered, of course.

There are LED driving lights, LED tail lights, LED headlights and are self levelling. Kia calls them Dynamic Bending Lights. It’s a big vehicle with a physically imposing presence too. Length is 4,800mm, width is 1,890mm, height is 1,690mm with roof rails. Wheelbase is 2,780mm and virtually joined by the GT-Line’s sidesteps. But with just 185mm of ground clearance it’s certainly not anything other than a soft-roader.Wheels for the GT-Line Sorento are 19 inch alloys and wrapped in 235/55 rubber from Kumho. Thankfully Kia also fit a full sized spare here, not the restrictive space saver spare.What About Safety?: Kia load the GT-Line with the supreme pizza, free drink, and free delivery, it’s that packed. All Sorentos have the mandated electronic aids such as stability control, traction control, and the like. Kia also add the Euro inspired Emergency Stop Signal which flash the indicators when the brake pedal is pressed harder than normal. AEB and Forward Collision Warning is standard through the range as is Lane Keep Assist and Driver Attention Alert, which would, annoyingly, tell a driver to have a break after just thirty minutes of driving.

Where the GT-Line goes further is Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Where it doesn’t go further is by having six airbags, not a driver’s knee airbag.

Out On The Road It’s:
a superbly relaxed highway cruiser. That low revving engine and where the torque figure comes in makes for a low stressed package. It’s mostly a responsive engine to, mostly. Unusually, the engine in the review car showed measurable turbo lag and in the scheme of things it was a considerable amount. Start the car, move along to a junction, wait to clear traffic, press the pedal and…..there’s a yawning gap before it suddenly sprints forward, rather than moving away in a linera fashion. That linear fashion is shown though when under way, where the response is spot on.

Roll downhill and the transmission will quietly downshift with barely any physical sensation at all. There’s a flicker of the needle on the rev counter, a slight change to the muted chatter from up front, and the engine is well within its useable torque range. In the highway cycle and with the throttle feathered, there’s hardly any indication of the engine working, with the tacho sitting at around 1,500rpm. Give the go pedal a nudge and the chatter goes up in volume but is not intrusive. Road noise, though, on the coarser chip surfaces, was.

Handling is predictable, wit the front end tending toward a hint of understeer in normal driving. Back off the throttle and it’s easily controllable, bringing the nose back in nicely. The steering itself is well balanced but a touch numb, leaving the driver feeling a touch isolated from what’s happening. Go for the stop pedal and there’s more communication here, with a centimetres of dead travel before a progressive descent where the right foot can judge exactly how much pressure to apply.The suspension is well sorted, naturally, with a flat ride, minimal body roll, and dampers that bring the chassis to a controilled state swiftly. Go hard into a corner and the body remains unflustered, poised, and under hard braking there is is dive, but again it’s minimal. The ride overall is supple, compliant, and makes those shopping centre carparks a minor annoyance.

At the End Of the Drive.
Kia’s Sorento is the sister vehicle to Hyundai’s Santa Fe, and the Sorento, as good as it is, is now showing its age inside. Kia’s DAB tuner supplier also needs some work, as other companies have far better tuners. However it’s still fantastic value, a great drive, well featured, and economical. It does look as if a new Sorento isn’t far off as Kia are doing run-out deals at the moment. Head here for more info: 2019 Kia Sorento range

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