If you've never driven a Kia Sorento, then you ought to, they're a seriously good car. Granted, the last one we drove was back in 2015, and as you can read here, it won us over.
Recently, Kia Motors Europe has announced a range of upgrades to the Sorento, which incidentally is the company’s seven-seat flagship SUV. It will feature a refreshed exterior and interior design, and will be available with Kia’s latest safety and in-car connectivity technologies. A new GT Line variant is also available, as well as an efficient new eight-speed automatic transmission for 2.2-litre diesel model.
Michael Cole, Chief Operating Officer of Kia Motors Europe, commented: “The Sorento accounted for 15,769 sales across Europe in 2016, and it remains an important contributor to the company’s sustained sales growth. The current model has a broad appeal among buyers, with a combination of high practicality, handsome design, and good value. Upgrades to the car’s exterior and interior design, safety, and in-car technology all add to the appeal of the car and will ensure sales remain strong.”
Design: updated exterior and interior design
Kia’s designers have made a series of modifications to the Sorento’s exterior design. These include revised front and rear bumpers, new LED head- and tail-lamps, and a new dark metallic finish to the ‘tiger-nose’ grille. The result is a more sophisticated and purposeful front-end appearance. New Rich Espresso and Gravity Blue exterior paint finishes are now available, as well as a new design for the Sorento’s 17-, 18- and 19-inch aluminium alloy wheels.
Inside, the cabin features a newly-designed steering wheel and driver instrument cluster, as well as a new climate control LCD display. The dashboard also features a new Audio Visual Navigation (AVN) system (see ‘Technology’).
The new Sorento features an increased proportion of soft touch materials and leather for a more premium cabin ambience. Customers can specify the interior in single-tone (black) or two-tone (black and stone beige), with cloth or leather upholstery. Optional brown or light grey leather upholstery is also available. The driver and front passenger seats are equipped with four-way and two-way adjustable lumbar support respectively, to enhance seating comfort.
Powertrain: lower emissions from new eight-speed automatic transmission
The new Sorento is the first SUV from Kia available with the company’s new eight-speed automatic transmission. Designed in-house by Kia and launched in 2016, the transmission boasts 143 newly-patented technologies and delivers a slick-shifting, more decisive drive, while reducing emissions slightly.
The new eight-speed automatic transmission is available on Sorento models powered by the 2.2-litre diesel engine, replacing the six-speed automatic transmission (a six-speed manual transmission is also available). Compared to other automatic transmissions, Kia’s new eight-speed unit requires fewer control valves, enabling a more direct mechanical link to the engine. This allows the transmission to shift more quickly than the outgoing six-speed automatic transmission. The greater choice of gears enables more decisive acceleration, while reducing CO2 emissions from 172 to 159 g/km.
The new transmission offers four different drive modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport and Smart. Drivers can select their preferred mode with the Sorento’s electronic Drive Mode Select system. Each mode enables the driver to customise the powertrain’s responses to driver inputs, enhancing fuel economy or acceleration characteristics depending on driver preference. The Drive Mode Select also adapts the weight of the rack-mounted power steering system, for more relaxed or more immediate, engaging steering responses. The new Smart Mode is designed to understand and anticipate the driver’s steering preferences, automatically switching between Eco, Comfort and Sport modes. This enables the Sorento to adapt to the driver’s steering behaviour as road conditions change, pre-empting the driver’s preference for different speeds and driving environments. Clever stuff indeed.
GT Line: new sport-inspired Sorento GT Line model
Kia has introduced a new GT Line variant to the Sorento, further enhancing its appeal. Inspired by the appearance of Kia’s higher-performance GT models, the Sorento GT Line features a range of upgrades for added style and on-road presence. The exterior features four-lamp LED fog lights, red brake callipers, a more prominent sill step, and subtle GT Line badging designed to distinguish it from other Sorento models. Diesel models are fitted with a distinctive new chrome twin exhaust tip.
The interior of the GT Line includes the same improvements as the standard car, and also features quilted seats, finished in black leather with contrasting grey stitching and GT Line embroided emblems. In addition, the new variant features unique gear shift paddles and a series of satin chrome highlights throughout the interior.
Safety: new active safety features available
For the first time, the Sorento is available with Kia’s latest DRiVE WISE Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). DRIVE WiSE embodies Kia’s philosophy to create intelligently safe vehicles with active safety technologies designed to avoid or mitigate the effects of collisions.
The new Driver Attention Warning (DAW) system combats distracted or drowsy driving. The system monitors a number of inputs from the vehicle and the driver. It sounds a warning chime and displays a graphic in the instrument binnacle if it senses a lapse in concentration from the driver. In Europe, driver fatigue is believed to be a key factor in up to a quarter of all fatal traffic accidents across the continent*. The USA’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. In the USA, this results in an estimated 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries annually.**
Other new safety features available on the Sorento include: Lane Keeping Assist System; High Beam Assist, and full LED headlamps with Dynamic Bending Light. These new technologies make the Sorento one of the safest cars in its class.
Technology: connected touchscreen infotainment and premium audio system
The new Sorento is available with Kia’s latest 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, with navigation and Kia Connected Services powered by TomTom®. The new system offers Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™, enabling full smartphone integration. Android Auto™ is designed to work with Android phones running 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher; Apple CarPlay™, for iPhone 5 or newer. Within the centre console is a wireless smartphone charger, allowing users to charge their smartphones on the move.
Buyers can upgrade their Sorento with a new Harman/Kardon® sound system. The powerful 640-watt, 10-speaker surround-sound audio system. Clari-Fi™ music restoration technology rebuilds audio signals lost in the digital compression process, returning high-fidelity quality to digitally-compressed music. The system’s QuantumLogic™ Surround Sound technology extracts signals from the original recording, redistributing them into an authentic, multi-dimensional soundstage. The result is clear, refined and detailed playback of a driver’s favourite tunes.
Oh, and don't forget, it'll be backed by the company’s quality promise, the new Kia Sorento is sold as standard with the company’s unique 7-Year, 100,000 mile warranty. It'll be on sale across Europe later on in the year, 2017, and UK specification and pricing information will be announced at a later stage.