Review: Kia Sorento HS Turbo Diesel

Need a 7-seater SUV that goes 800km per tankful? And does so with great comfort?... And sensibly priced? That’s a short shopping list

Kia Sorento Diesel

This Sorento has been around for quite a while, right?
Not as you see it here. Actually, let me rephrase that – this car looks like the Sorento as you know it, except that this one is the CRDi variant. Yes, it burns diesel and yet another proof how the Koreans have a vastly different way of doing things compared to the diesel-shy Japanese (well, for passenger cars anyway).

Diesel? Ahh, so more efficient, then?
Yes. However, I can’t say just how efficient because this Sorento was one of four cars that were used in a recent Naza Kia media drive. So there was a rotation of cars and only a limited time of it in this seven seat SUV.

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Ballpark?
Okay, I reckon about 800km per tankful is not at all optimistic, in fact easily achievable – partly the engine, partly the big 71 litre fuel tank. My turn driving the Sorento was purely on the highway – and we didn’t even start with a full tank. That range is impressive – considering that this can seat seven, boasts lots of space, spins all four wheels, and is a heavyweight at roughly 1,800kg.

But diesels are noisy and clunky…
That has not been true for modern diesel engines of recent times so where have you been the past five years? Sure, at idling there is an unmistakable diesel rattle; nothing offensive, just industrial.

The real magic comes in the cabin, where every hint of it being a diesel-burner dissolves into nothingness. The usual vibration associated with such an engine does not exist, in fact, the Sorento CRDi’s Noise-Vibration and Harshness (NVH) level is remarkably low. It just remains calm, even when barrelling down the highway at 180kph.

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So it’s comfortable too?
Very much. Naza Kia did right by not needlessly putting on larger alloys on this thing and sacrificing ride quality (to be fair, this Sorento comes with 19-inch alloys, not exactly small. Just that the vehicle is large). The result is a pleasing, cushy, ride. And as mentioned above, the NVH is mighty remarkable.

There’s plenty of space for the rear passenger to stretch their legs, plus with plenty of head space even for tall passengers. The third row passengers may not get as much knee room as those in front but it’s more like being in Premium Economy, rather than an economy seat in a low-cost airline.

Oh, probably worth to mention that the rears are on multi-link suspensions... probably a big reason for the comfort factor.

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Now that we’ve established the fact that the Sorento is large, does the rear passengers get their own air-cond vents?
Of course, this-gen Sorento has always had it. In fact, the third row passengers even get their own blower control.

I see the dashboard… quite simple isn’t it?
Yes, the centre screen is small for this day and age plus looks exceedingly small relative to the vehicle it is in. The rest of the dashboard, although not particularly inspiring from a design standpoint, is practical. Not that it’s a big problem. Because other important factors are so well covered.

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Speaking of which, how’s the performance?
For what it is, there’s ample. 440Nm allows for many things, from hauling seven passengers with ease to carrying whatever cargo you can in that 2,000-litre (plus a few) room capacity with the two rear seat rows folded down.

The gearbox is a smooth 6-speed auto and of course, may distribute power to all four wheels for an all-wheel drive set-up.

We’re not given official numbers but I reckon 0-100kph is just under 10 seconds. Not brisk considering the torque but the gearing does allow for an effortless high cruising speed.

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Anything more I should know?
It’s got front, side, and curtain airbags. Also standard are parking sensors, electronic stability control, and hill start assist control. The Sorento also has a tyre pressure monitoring system which if you still haven’t noticed, I think is the new essential feature to be in every car.

As for driver convenience, there is the smart key system, powered tailgate, electronic parking brake, rear sunshade blind, and engine start-top. Also available is the driver mode select to give the driver options between Normal, Eco, and Sport mode. Tip: Normal is just fine in every condition.

The headlights are HID projectors with auto levelling function. And the spare tyre goes full size; convenient for really long distance travelling but will be a real physical workout to do the change.

All in all, massively decent effort by Kia. At roughly RM179,000 it is quite expensive (especially if you are more than happy with a 5-seater capacity) but the extra number of seats, range potential, and comfort level makes the number add up. Not the first time the Koreans have come out with something like this; it was Hyundai who did it first with the still-impressive 11-seater Grand Starex MPV. Kia does the same with the Sorento SUV.

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Ahmad Zulizwan
Author: Ahmad Zulizwan
Take it to the track, please.

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