Make: Kia

Model: Sorento

Variant: GT-Line

Engine / Transmission: 2.2 litre diesel – 8 Speed automatic

Manufacturer Claimed Fuel Economy: 7.2L/100km combined 

Price: From $62,190 

First Impressions:

Last week, the EFTM Garage was home to the V6 petrol Kia Sorento. We’ve swapped it for the diesel AWD version to see exactly what another $18,000 hard-earned dollars gets you.

Well, it gets you everything that is already awesome about the Sorento: seven seats, huge warranty, capable chassis, and a great range of tech and comfort features… but, er, more of them: wonderful heated and cooled front seats, luxurious feeling heated steering wheel and the kids will love the heated seats in the back. 

Tech Inside: 

With even the base model coming with lane keep assist semi-autonomous steering (which works well on the freeway, but not flawlessly), autonomous braking, active cruise control, USB charging ports all over the place as well as Apple carplay, the GT-Line ramps things up with some really worthwhile tech. 

Firstly, the LED headlights are a world away from the rather pathetic lamps fitted to the lesser Sorentos. The 360 degree parking camera is welcome, as is the blindspot assist.

Most Impressive:

The extra kit is so nice to have. It just makes a capable family car a much nicer place to be for an extended drive. The AWD system of the diesel version keeps everything that is good about the responsive Sorento chassis, while taming the wheelspin of the front wheel drive V6 – wheelspin that occasionally borders on ridiculous.

There just isn’t a simple way to transfer the punch of a big V6 to the front wheels of a heavy car without the unwanted effect of excessive wheel spin. Of course, in a split second, the traction control system has things under control, but the diesel’s AWD system sorts the issue before it’s an issue. 

Not So Impressive :

Unfortunately, all of this extra goodness costs extra dollars… and this is my problem with the Sorento GT-Line. At $63000, the incredible value of the base model is compromised. The failings of the Sorento are more difficult to forgive as the price increases. The low resolution of the reverse camera grates. So too does the cheap feeling handbrake button. And this is not my only problem with this Kia. 

It’s a confused car. The diesel is a beautifully torquey and comfortable engine on the freeway, but is a bit rattly and clumsy in the ‘burbs. The sports seats feel awesome, but clash with the more laid back style of the diesel engine. It rides on 19 inch rims, but they are of a conservative design and don’t back the bling of similar sized wheels on other makes. 

I think Kia has the makings of two awesome family cars here with the Sorento; the same base car, but just in two distinct flavours. Families should be able to choose between a sporty V6 petrol (with AWD to solve the limitations of the front-wheel-drive platform), blingy 19s, low suspension and sporty seats OR a relaxed diesel cruiser, with wide comfy seats, smaller 17 inch rims with high walled comfy tyres and perhaps even the option of jettisoning the AWD system to offset the higher cost of the diesel engine.  

I remain really impressed with the Sorento range and can’t wait until the new Sorento hits the EFTM Garage soon. I just hope it comes in two flavors.