THE Kia Sorento is a vehicle a lot of family buyers overlook. Study the sales charts and it is evident there are others in the segment that perform more strongly. Frankly, we struggle to understand why…
Much of the seven-seat hoard leaves a lot to be desired – both dynamically and in terms of value for money. Consider what the Sorento offers for just north of $50K and you’d have rocks in your head to not take a test drive.
This is a well featured, decently built and solidly warranted family hauler with a localised ride and handling tune you’ll struggle to beat, even when spending twice the asking price.
But before we get into all that, let’s understand where the updated Sorento fits in. This is not an all-new model – but’s it’s no simple facelift either. Kia has gone to a lot of effort to enhance its large segment seven-seater, as the following paragraphs will surely show.
As well as freshened looks inside and out, the 2024 Kia Sorento brings new comfort and convenience features, updated technology, and revised safety equipment to the fore. The line-up is familiar to the outgoing range, with carry-over engines and mechanicals (a 200kW/332Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol FWD or 147kW/440Nm 2.2-litre I4 turbo-diesel AWD).
HEV and PHEV options will join the petrol and diesel duo tested here later in the year.
The new Sorento features multiple refreshed design elements, many drawn from the recently launched EV9. These include a new-look frontal design with updated headlights, grille, and bumper, and a “subtly tweaked” rear-end that is said to offer a more modern and rugged appearance.
Inside, the Sorento now features a 4.0-inch multifunction LCD digital display on S, Sport and Sport + trim grades designed to replace the outgoing model’s analogue instrumentation. High grade GT-Line variants score a dual 12.3-inch high-definition displays, one each for the instrumentation and infotainment systems.
Adding to the standard equipment list found in the Sorento GT-Line is a digital rear-view mirror – also found in the EV9 – which lets the driver select between a standard mirror or rear-view camera for “maximum rear visibility and safety”.
Sport+ and GT-Line variants feature a Bose premium sound system with 12 speakers and subwoofer, while all grades now sport a shift-by-wire transmission lever for a “cleaner interior finish and increased sense of space”.
Once again, following in the footprints of the Kia EV9, an array of over-the-air updates will be available across the updated Sorento range, enabling the vehicle’s various systems to undergo constant wireless software improvements.
The latest maps, interfaces, and software enhancements will be available instantly without the need for the customer to visit a Kia service centre. Kia Connect connected car services are offered free of charge for the first seven years of ownership.
On the safety front, the 2024 Kia Sorento range brings the introduction of highway driving assist, a semi-autonomous technology that operates only when driving on a freeway or motorway.
It builds upon the adaptive cruise control functionality offered in the previous model, and now combines lane follow assist to keep the car centred in the lane even when driving through a curve.
The MY24 Sorento range carries over the five-star ANCAP safety rating issued in 2020.
Additionally, the new Sorento GT-Line flagship receives parking distance warning (front, side and rear) adding side detection zones to provide “a more comprehensive warning system that will warn the driver when a collision is likely during parking”.
Two new premium paint choices, Volcanic Sand Brown, and Cityscape Green, have been added to the Sorento’s paint palette, bringing the exterior colour choices to a total of nine.
Looks are a subjective thing, but in our view the updates to the Sorento have improved the model no end. It appears more polished than before, with an upmarket look both inside and out that a few in the segment could take a lesson from.
And it isn’t a case of beauty being skin deep… in town, on the open road, and across rough unsealed tracks (yes, Kia sent us up fire tracks on the launch!) the Sorento remains planted, predictable, and exceptionally quiet. This is a prestige experience without the prestige price tag.
The Sorento is a straightforward vehicle to operate and one that is easier than ever to interact with.
If Kia would see fit to amend its uptight speed recognition system (which audibly alerts the driver if they are travelling 1km/h over the limit) we’d say it’s just about perfect. But the multiple steps required to override the system each time you start the car are a little grating.
That said, the ADAS technologies fitted to the Sorento work as intended and provide great support in often challenging Aussie conditions. We didn’t catch the vehicle jumping at shadows or making unnecessary steering inputs, something that’s becoming all too common in many new cars.
It was also pleasing to ride in a vehicle where tyre noise was not an issue. The Sorento is a quiet vehicle overall, even on the larger diameter wheels with low profile tyres found on higher grades.
Arguably, the V6 petrol engine is a little thrashy – and thirsty – when pushed hard (we saw low 13s on test compared with mid 8s for the diesel), but when you consider most buyers opt for the all-wheel drive diesel, it isn’t a point we feel needs much discussion.
Steering the Sorento is a delight. The electrically assisted (motor on rack) arrangement is fluid and natural, with Goldilocks assistance levels across a range of speeds. Blend this with a handling quality that exceed the brief for a seven-seat family hauler, and we reckon there’ll be quite a few first-time test drivers for whom the Sorento raises an eyebrow.
In terms of performance, little has changed. The Sorento isn’t going to set any speed records, but it doesn’t really need to. It’s brisk enough, shifts gears decisively, and – in the case of the diesel – is impressively efficient. Mechanical noise is well attenuated and there is no driveline vibration worth mentioning – even when idling the diesel at the lights.
Qualms… well, there are a few. We found the rotary style shifter was easy to move past the desired setting, and somewhat slow (protective?) when attempting to change direction quickly. The A-pillars also seem a little on the thick side, obscuring visibility to a degree, but Kia isn’t on its lonesome in presenting this issue to buyers.
From a packaging standpoint, we found the Sorento to be well sized with generously sized seats and sound ergonomics. Further back, there is adequate space for adults in the second row and even the third row for shorter journeys. It may be an effort to clamber back there, but once you’re in, it is surprisingly quite comfortable – unless of course you’re over 180cm tall.
There are cup holders, vents, and USB outlets where you expect them, while the view out the side window is spot on – just the trick for warding off car sickness! We also loved the addition of the retractable rear-side window sun blinds, something we wish more cars offered as standard.
Cargo space is unchanged and of course shrinks dramatically with the third row of seats in play. In seven-seat mode the Sorento offers just 187 litres of boot space, which jumps to 616 litres in five-seat mode and a gigantic 2011 litres in two-seat mode – perfect for a trip to the big green shed or that DIY Swedish furniture store.
If you need more, there is 2000kg of braked towing to see you through.
The updated Sorento seven-seater is a polished affair with a bit more flair, and one that continues to offer exceptional value for money to family buyers. Even in its entry form, the Sorento is a terrific vehicle to drive and one we think deserves a little more attention.
If you’re in the market for a family hauler, and have Santa Fe and Kluger in your sights, make sure you drive the updated Sorento third – and let us know what you decide. We look forward to hearing what you think.