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Kia Sorento KX-2 2.2 CRDi AWD Automatic driven by Pete Carr
An extended fishing trip to the Lake District with three pals gave me the chance to get a feel for what others thought of the Sorento.
The vehicle swallowed up four grown blokes and all the associated fishing gear that we all thought to be essential but usually proves to be surplus to requirements.
Fishing tackle aside, we also loaded ten days’ worth of groceries and enough crates of beer to make both George Best and Oliver Reed cough in disbelief.
All agreed that the Sorento provided a comfortable ride. A certain amount of wind noise was noted, but once registered it was soon forgotten about.
When I’m driving alone, I usually listen to the adventures of Harry Flashman – the questionable hero brought to life by George MacDonald Fraser’s audio books. Wind noise has never interrupted my enjoyment of Flash Harry’s antics.
One gripe that came up was the automatic locking of passenger doors. I understand this is a safety feature to avoid the possibility of carjacking, but we weren’t in Johannesburg, and the regular chore of having to go back to the driver’s door console to unlock all the doors became a little tedious.
Whilst driving to remote fishing locations in the Cambrian fells, it did its fair share of rough road driving on tracks that would make most drivers think twice about venturing in a lesser vehicle.
But what really made the difference was the fuel economy. The fuel bill for this trip was approaching 50 per cent less than last year using a colleague’s Ford Ranger.
|Date arrived:||26th February 2013|
|Mileage to date:||10,557 miles|
|Fuel consumption:||42.2mpg (official combined)
38.1mpg (on test)
The Sorento occupies an interesting sector of the market, one that is dominated by Korean and Japanese car makers.
Its biggest rivals are its sister car, the Hyundai Santa Fe, as well as the Chevrolet Captiva and Mitsubishi Shogun. Apart from those four, there’s nothing else to choose if you need a full-size, seven-seat off-roader, unless you sell the kids and mortgage your wife to be able to afford one of the premium options.
In terms of price, the Sorento sits bang in between the Captiva, coming in a couple of thousand pounds cheaper, while the Santa Fe is a few pounds more expensive than its relative. The Shogun is priced even steeper, bridging the gap between the Korean options and premium choices like the Land Rover Discovery 4, Audi Q7 and BMW X5.
In terms of space inside, there’s not much to mention between the foursome, all offering a capacious cabin, with generous space for five, and a pair of seats in the back that are more suitable for children than hauling adults about.
Our Sorento has mainly been driven with the rearmost seats folded down, giving a decent amount of luggage space, with room for five, but this month we’ve been maxing out the carrying capacity and making use of all seven seats too.
A building extension at home has meant that all of the Sorento’s seats have been folded down, into a van-like configuration, while I scour the DIY store for bargains to keep costs at bay. All of the seats tumble down to create a relatively flat load floor, with the second row folding in a 60:40 fashion, while the rearmost chairs fold in half.
It’s incredibly versatile, especially if you need to carry a couple of extra helping hands to take care of loading up.
A car full of Brownies may well qualify as being most blokes’ worst nightmare, but as I had been volunteered by ’er indoors, I became the designated driver, with my wife in charge of crowd control.
The Sorento handled the return trip to the leisure park without a fuss, with the third row described as ‘really cool’ by some of the occupants, and as a result the rearmost seats were oversubscribed for volunteers to occupy them.
My only concern was for the upholstery when five seven-year-olds appeared with a choc-ice apiece, but thankfully the girls devoured the treat in record time, avoiding a potential meltdown – not only a chocolate one, but also my frayed temper.
A more serious workout was given on a recent charity rugby trip – the scrum half is always the smallest and gobby one, so he and his half back partner got the third row. The two locks had to get the second row of course, with the number eight sandwiched between them, but despite their combined heights of nearly 20 feet, they took the 300-mile round trip without complaint thanks to generous head room.
Indeed the boys chose the Sorento as their choice of ride over the usual mini bus, so that’s got to say something. The long road trip was a comfortable one for all, although there were a few aches and pains on the return drive, but this was due to on-field knocks rather than passenger discomfort.
The already smooth running 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine is bedding in nicely with a few more miles on the clock, and fuel economy is nudging ever nearer to the official fuel figures.
The six-speed automatic transmission swaps cogs efficiently and smoothly and is a pretty good companion for drivers that like the car to take care of the gears on its own. There are some penalties for going down this route, though, with a £1,500 price hike compared to that of a six-speed manual car, a 5.7mpg penalty on fuel economy and CO2 emissions that are 20g/km higher.
This translates into 80 less miles out of a tankful of juice and an extra £25 to pay out for the annual car tax disc, so buyers must really be smitten with two-pedal motoring to opt for the automatic car over the equally excellent, but more labour intensive manual gearbox car.
|Built:||Asan, South Korea|
The Sorento has proved its worth as a practical vehicle that suits the lifestyle of both urbanites and rural dwellers alike.
Roomy enough for the school run, comfortable on prolonged drives, and more than able to deliver in the occasional off-road situation that a country driver would expect.
It isn’t a hardcore off-roader like a Land Rover Defender, but I would wager it would stand its ground against other similar vehicles in its class, if shod with proper off-road tyres of course. Ride height would be its limiting factor, but this vehicle certainly continues to impress.
It always amazes me driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle when I meet an oncoming car on a narrow B-road, as car drivers never seem pleased to give an inch of road to a 4×4.
This recently meant me taking the Sorento up and across a precariously steep bank to avoid a road rage incident with a middle aged woman, who possessed a greater range of expletives than a Grimsby fish wife.
So steep in fact was this bank, I feared the Sorento’s roof edge may clip hers as she roared past. Thankfully there was enough airspace available, and the Sorento sailed by and back onto the road with ease, my body weight once more supported by the seat rather than the door.
With more motorway miles this month, and less low-geared farm tours, the fuel consumption figure is nudging closer to the 42.2mpg claimed figure.
This month, we’ve achieved 39.2mpg, a little better than before, but still around 10 per cent away from that elusive figure.
|Date arrived:||26th February 2013|
|Mileage to date:||6,892 miles|
|Fuel consumption:||42.2mpg (official combined)
39.2mpg (on test)
The arrival of the Sorento on my driveway has been the cause of some interest in the few weeks I have been at its helm.
Clearly Kia has got it right when it comes to its pretty, yet rugged good looks as the Sorento has attracted a lot of attention from friends and family keen to know what I think.
It’s definitely pleasing on the eye, and one of those cars that even non-car fans admire, going by the appreciative comments I have received.
Indeed on a recent visit to the BASC Gamekeepers’ Fair, it seemed almost all had heard of the immensely reassuring seven-year warranty, but found few had seriously considered the car as a real contender in the 4×4 market.
Admittedly most of them could be pigeonholed into the Barbour brigade (me included), and drove one or the other of the Land Rover options. But quite by chance, this fair was an ideal opportunity for a number of them to get a good look at the Sorento.
Unsurprisingly, the response was overwhelmingly positive, which is high praise indeed from a peer group that is hard to please. Of course, it will be out of its depth when compared to something like a Land Rover Defender, but as I said in my first report, it performs exceptionally well in the off-road farm/estate situations that I normally find myself in.
The war office (Mrs Carr) has reported similar appreciative comments from her circle of friends when out and about in town, and on the school run too.
The cabin has a real all-round premium feel, thanks to its cool design, black leather upholstery, and tasteful black wood grain finish. A myriad of controls has inevitably led to many minutes studying the owner’s manual, but what new car doesn’t these days?
The centre console is well thought out, with all of the major controls high up on the dashboard, so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road for too long. One thing that is missing is satellite navigation, which in my opinion is quite mean considering the £30k price tag. If you want it, you can have it, but you’ll need to cough up an extra £1,100.
I don’t think it’s something I would fork out for, instead relying on my trusty portable unit. I have to say though; it feels quite sacrilegious fixing my old bruised and battered TomTom to the windscreen of this brand new car, but it does the job and gets me to my destination without any fuss.
Pleasingly, the driving experience is as comfortable as the interior. The smooth running 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel is the same 194bhp unit as in pre-facelift Sorentos, but further refined and far better on fuel.
Compared to the old car, this automatic equipped model’s fuel economy figures jump from 38.2 to 42.2mpg and CO2 emissions drop from 194g/km to just 175g/km. While you may say ‘so what?’ to an improvement of four miles to the gallon, it means that for every tankful of diesel, a new Sorento can travel 60 miles further – a significant saving.
And when it comes to buying the annual tax disc, new Sorento owners will pay £200, compared to £260 for the old model. For company car drivers, the benefits are more significant, as the old model fell into the 33 per cent bracket, whereas the new car is three notches lower at 30 per cent.
We haven’t quite been able to meet the official fuel figures, but considering the engine is still new and tight, 38.1mpg isn’t that far off.
The one real complaint I do have is the limited view looking behind when reversing. The rear pillars are obstructive, and with an already small rear window, and head rests further restricting vision, it all adds up to a big problem.
Kia has attempted to help out by including rear parking sensors and a fancy reversing camera that appears on the central display, but I’m still not used to it yet.
The lines that give you an idea of where you’ll end up, depending on the wheel angle, are handy, but I still can’t get rid of that ‘waiting for the bang’ feeling.
I just need to gain greater confidence of using the system and all will be fine.
|Date arrived:||26th February 2013|
|Mileage to date:||4,502 miles|
|Price when new:||£30,395|
To say I was looking forward to the arrival of the Sorento would be an understatement of massive proportions.
I had heard it was so much more than a Chelsea chariot, although I’m sure many Belgravia mums would relish this roomy ride.
This SUV was reputed to be a real contender as a cool, comfortable motor that could hold its own as an occasional off roader too.
By choice, I am a 4×4 kind of guy as I live in a rural area, where work and play take me to country estates at different times of the year. For obvious reasons four-wheel-drive and above average ground clearance are advantageous to maintaining happiness behind the wheel.
In the short time I have been at the helm of the Sorento, I have only once been properly off road, but the vehicle definitely gets top marks from me. The experience was a real test across sodden grass, fields and winter stubbles during a farm tour.
I admit to having a little trepidation as we left the gravel road, but this was soon dispelled. It traversed the fields with ease despite the very slippery conditions and the vehicle being shod with standard road tyres.
My initial concerns were soon replaced with complete confidence. But far from being a one-trick pony, this Kia is equally at home on the tarmac, with well suppressed engine, road and wind noise, and a strong sense of security when cornering.
CO2 emissions are class leading, and so far the fuel economy figures haven’t been too far adrift of what Kia claims. This all bodes well for the months to come.