Family friendly with a substantial on-road presence plus seven seats and a decent dose of go-anywhere credentials make the Kia Sorento an attractive and affordable proposition. EFTM moved from the Kia Rondo to a week with the 2014 Sorento Platinum diesel. We embarked on a camping expedition, used it on the daily commute to work and even took it on the weekly shopping run.

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The 10 Minute Test Drive

The 2014 Sorento looks impressive enough, there’s the latest bow tie style Kia grill up front combined with sharp-looking headlamps, muscular bonnet and bold wheel arches. Side on styling is mostly generic by large, SUV wagon standards aside from a thick c-pillar which catches the eye along with attractive 19’’ Kia wheels. The Sorento Platinum continues to enthuse with combination LED rear lamps and a wide almost European styled rear end.

Clambering up and into the Sorento serves as a reminder this is a substantial chunk of South Korean metal, so does the interior. It’s all very nice to look at, barring the usual cheaper materials used at this price point. It’s a mishmash of mostly grey tones but with a simple spread of buttons and clear, well-lit instrument cluster. Over the shoulder is ample cabin space and the capability to carry five other humans.

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The Kia infotainment system is mostly last gen at present, but it remains a friend for any user. Sure it lacks the apps and internet connectivity of some others, but is that what people really want?

Driving continues to strengthen the Sorento’s case. The 2.2-litre diesel is robust and powerful along with being dare I say “quick” off the mark. The large Kia by no means handles like a go-kart but nor does is feel like the Endeavor. Light steering has been tuned to make the Sorento universally appealing, the ride is solid and confident with decent stopping power from four-disc brakes.

Ins and Outs

EFTM sampled the four-cylinder 2.2L diesel, 6-speed automatic. With 145kW at 3,800rpm and a substantial 436Nm between 1,800-2,500rpm (Auto) over the 3.5-litre 204kW / 335Nm petrol option. It’s not only the better choice on paper but no doubt in reality as well.

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Off road Active AWD with a lock mode proved more than simply gimmicky during our test. The on demand system was called upon for some challenging rock climbing, the Sorento lost plenty of traction thanks to standard road rubber but locking all four wheels together saw our heavily loaded test car rise to the occasion.

Fuel use was most impressive, considering both rear rows were flattened by camping paraphernalia piled to the roof. Fuel use finished at 8.9l/100lkm, an encouraging return over a week-long 700km circuit covering the NSW Southern Highlands, the daily Sydney motorway commute and shopping centre car parks.

The Platinum model impresses with extras such as HID type front headlamps, leather seats, two seat memory for the driver seat, a four-way power front passenger seat, panoramic sunroof, privacy glass, 2nd row window curtains, auto dimming rear mirror, push button start, climate controlled seats and a tricked up sound system.

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A 7’’ touch screen is the centerpiece, which provides access to satellite navigation and full Bluetooth connectivity. The instrument, or as Kia calls it “Supervision” cluster, also incorporates an additional screen displaying digital readouts for fuel economy and menus for various vehicle settings.

The seven seat layout is fairly typical, with the third row able to accommodate only modestly sized people. Although number six and seven do score an independent fan control and vent. Expect just 258 litres of cargo space with all 7 seats up.

Hip Pocket

Before on roads our test car weighed in at $51,385 which included a $595 layer of “Glittering Metal” metallic paint. But you can pick up a 2WD Si petrol model from $38,490 or $40,990 for the Si diesel. Midway up the Sorento tree sits the petrol SLi from $41,490 or $44,490 which includes the diesel and a navigation pack. A manual version is available matched to the diesel but only on the base Si.

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A claimed 7.3l/100km fuel economy figure seems achievable and the Kia 5-year unlimited factory warranty is hard to turn a blind eye to.

Bragging Rights

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You’d have to be pretty comfortable with the decision to invest in a Kia Sorento. The potential to carry a significant human payload or in our case a load reminiscent of something from National Lampoon’s Vacation is a huge plus.

The Lasting Impression

You just can’t look past that 5-year warranty, the vehicle itself seems durable enough but half a decade of guaranteed peace of mind will convince many.

The EFTM Rubber Stamp

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The Kia Sorento is not for those who long for something a little more upmarket, but as an affordable troop carrier that doubles as a capable weekend fun machine it’s hard to walk by. It does feel a tad dated, and no doubt a new model is on the horizon but for now the 2014 Kia Sorento earns the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp of Approval.