The all-new KIA Sorento has set the cat among the pigeons in South Africa’s large SUV segment thanks to its unique blend of muscular yet elegant style, unrivalled practicality and new technologies. With barely nine months having passed since it’s global debut 2014 Paris Motor Show, the all-new Sorento is already a multi-award winning vehicle that is taking the success of its predecessor to new levels.
In fact, the all-new KIA Sorento represents a notable new level for KIA vehicles. With its smoother, swept-back profile and deeply sculpted surfaces, it introduces the next level of sophistication for the third-generation of KIA’s large SUV. This next-level, premium look and feel is echoed in the Sorento’s spacious and well-appointed cabin, which offers more space for up to seven occupants as well as numerous innovative features.
“The all-new Sorento is a key model for KIA due to our affinity for the SUV class of vehicles,” says David Sieff, Marketing Director, KIA Motors South Africa. “The third generation Sorento is especially exciting to bring to market as we make the next step up the quality and refinement ladder. We realise innovation and technology is expected from KIA but we have again brought key conveniences that make owing the new Sorento a driving pleasure.”
Next Level Design
With one of the world’s most awarded design teams (and KIA’s Chief Design Offer, Peter Schreyer, at the helm), the all-new KIA Sorento was predominantly designed at KIA’s Namyang R&D Centre outside Seoul, with significant input from the brand’s design studios in Frankfurt, Germany and Irvine, California. With a design that straddles evolution and revolution, it marks a definite step upwards for the KIA brand and subtly alters the character of the Sorento.
Inspired by a theme the designers named ‘Streetwolf’, the design changes to the new model highlights the Sorento’s sleek, sinuous profile while creating a sophisticated appearance and a bold on-the-road presence. Unsurprisingly, the all-new Sorento continued KIA’s dominance of the annual ‘red dot’ awards when it won its first-ever award for product design earlier this year. As well as awarding it for the overall quality of its design, the jury rated the car on criteria such as finish, degree of innovation, environmental impact and safety.
The front design incorporates long, wrap-around headlamps and more prominent fog-lamps, as well as a larger, more upright ‘tiger-nose’ grille with a distinctive three-dimensional diamond pattern that was first seen on the 2013 Kia Cross GT concept.
In profile, the new model retains the Sorento’s hallmark long bonnet and characteristic wide D-pillar, but a lower roofline, higher beltline and swept-back shape give the car a more dramatic and muscular stance.
The rear of the car features more prominent shoulders and a highly sculpted number plate surround. The latter is made possible by the introduction of new laser welding manufacturing techniques – a first for a KIA model – which renders weld lines invisible, meaning the Sorento can do without the traditional joint-masking garnish on the tailgate.
The sleeker look of the new Sorento is enhanced by its increased length (+95 mm to 4 780 mm), reduced height (down 15 mm to 1 685 mm) and extra width (+5 mm to 1 890 mm).
Next Level Sophistication
But while the all-new KIA Sorento is a definite head-turner on the road, some of the most significant improvements to the car are to be found on the inside. Led by KIA’s European design team based in Frankfurt, the designers have created a more sophisticated, more luxurious cabin, featuring significantly higher quality materials that propel the KIA brand to a new level of sophistication.
The styling of the cabin follows a ‘modern and wide’ theme, which is evident through the horizontal layout of the instrument cluster, interior trim and the wrap-around dashboard that extends into the door trims. A higher proportion of soft-touch materials and leather creates a modern, luxury feel to the cabin and gives the new Sorento the ambience of a genuinely premium interior space.
The flowing contours of the dashboard were inspired by the contours of the human body and rise to incorporate the driver’s instrument binnacle. The smoothly styled design curve in the doors, which leads from the audio speakers up to the grab handles and arm rests, also endows the cabin with a more sophisticated and visually harmonious appearance. All Sorento models come as standard with a Saturn Black interior, with cloth or leather trim depending on the model grade.
Depending on the model grade, the all-new KIA Sorento is equipped with one of two instrument binnacles. In entry-level guise, the new Sorento comes as standard with a 3,5-inch mono LCD screen, located between two analogue dials in the centre of the instrument binnacle, that displays all major trip computer information in one place, such as vehicle range and average and instant fuel consumption.
Higher specification models features a 7-inch colour TFT LCD screen, with an electro-luminescent instrument cluster and digital speedometer that further improves the modern form and function of the interior while displaying all relevant journey information which the driver can select from the multi-function steering wheel.
As the latest model in KIA’s modern vehicle line-up, the Sorento is available to customers with a range of multimedia entertainment options. All models come as standard with a Radio / CD / MP3 player, as well as multimedia ports for USB and AUX-in connections, and six speakers around the cabin. In entry-level models, information is displayed on a 3,8-inch display, while higher specification grades feature a 4,3-inch colour touch screen that incorporates the rear-parking camera.
Next Level Refinement
Throughout the development of the new Sorento, KIA engineers also focused on strengthening the bodyshell structure and improving NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) characteristics to increase refinement and create a tranquil travelling environment that is as sophisticated as the new model’s styling.
The increased torsional rigidity of the new bodyshell (up by 14% compared to the outgoing model) provides an excellent foundation for both enhanced refinement and improved safety.
NVH-reducing measures adopted for the new Sorento include new soundproofing material for the transmission tunnel, a 29% thicker dashboard soundproofing panel, larger engine and transmission mounts for greater powertrain refinement and, for diesel models, a new DPF cover and an acoustic shield integrated into the engine’s timing chain cover. Cabin noise is reduced by 3% to 6%, depending on driving conditions.
Next Level Comfort and Convenience
Compared to the previous-generation model, the increased exterior dimensions and the extended wheelbase (+80 mm to 2 780 mm) of the all-new KIA Sorento have created generous additional space in the cabin of the new car.
Available in five- or seven-seat versions, the new Sorento features 40/20/40 second row split folding seats for improved versatility, with a higher folding centre armrest. Depending on the model grade, the second-row seats can be ‘remotely’ folded by conveniently located levers in the side of the cargo bay.
Depending on the model, the 10-way power-assisted driver’s seat is engineered with a number of features to improve comfort, including four-way lumbar support and an extending knee support, both available at the touch of a button. Additionally, four-way headrest movement is also on offer, while two preferred settings for the driver’s seat and rear view door mirrors can be stored thanks to the Integrated Memory Seat (IMS) functionality.
Although the roofline is 15 mm lower, repositioned seat cushions ensure increased headroom for occupants in all rows and greater legroom in the third row of seven-seat models. Cargo space also increases: luggage capacity with the third row seats folded flat is up 17,5% from 515 to 605 litres, while five-seat versions of the Sorento have a large 660-litre trunk. Seven-seater models also feature a new under-floor tonneau cover storage compartment and integrated cargo net to secure loose items.
Next Level Technology
The new Sorento debuts a number of new, advanced on-board technologies to improve convenience and further enhance the ownership experience. These include a Blind Spot Detection system, which uses radar sensors to monitor approaching vehicles from the rear in the lanes flanking the driver. If a vehicle is detected, a visual alert appears on the side view mirrors. Linked to the system is a Lane Change Assist function: if the Blind Spot Detection system detects an approaching vehicle in the blind spot, and the turn signal is activated in an attempt to change lanes, the Lane Change Assist emits an audible warning.
Also new to the Sorento is a Smart Power Tailgate, which automatically opens when the key is ‘sensed’ in close proximity to the trunk. When owners approach the rear of the vehicle and the key is within the correct range of proximity, the trunk opens automatically after three beeps, allowing you to load shopping bags or heavy objects straight into the vehicle without first having to shake a foot underneath the bumper. The Smart Power Tailgate also features and electric closing mechanism and memory function for opening height.
Next Level Power and Performance
To match consumers’ rising expectations, Kia engineers worked to improve every aspect of the new Sorento’s driving experience, including a range of engine upgrades. Local KIA Sorento models come with a choice between a 2,4-litre multi-point injection petrol engine and the company’s much-loved 2,2-litre ‘R’ turbodiesel engine. Both engines are designed to offer greater mid- and low-range torque to provide the smooth operation one would expect from an SUV. Enhancements to each engine also ensure that every power unit available in the new Sorento complies with the latest regional emissions regulations around the world.
In particular, the 2,2-liter ‘R’ turbodiesel engine has received a number of component upgrades to improve smoothness and efficiency, and to increase mid- and low-range torque. It features Kia’s fourth-generation fuel-injection system for greater fuel economy, performance and engine response, while reducing engine noise. A new exhaust gas recirculation cooler promotes recirculation of clean, cold, low-pressure exhaust gas to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Finally, a newly adopted electronic swirl control valve in the intake manifold further reduces emissions by more carefully controlling the intake of oxygen to the combustion chamber.
Next Level Capability
KIA offers the all-new Sorento in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configuration, with a choice between six-speed manual and automatic transmissions – the combination dependent on the specification grade (see ‘Model Range’).
High-specification versions of the all-new Sorento is equipped with KIA’s DYNAMAX™ all-wheel drive system, which delivers a high level of stability and confidence in poor driving conditions and on low-grip surfaces, balancing torque distribution to the front and rear wheels depending on the specific requirement. The system is further enhanced with a ‘4WD Lock’ mode, which splits torque distribution evenly between front and rear wheels and gives greater traction and even more predictable handling in snow, on sand, on other low-traction surfaces, and around bends.
High specification models also feature Advanced Traction Cornering Control (ATCC) that further aids handling by transferring torque to the wheels with the most grip. If the system detects understeer, ATCC is activated before the Electronic Stability Control system, providing more torque to the outer rear wheel and braking the inner rear wheel under cornering.
The car’s driving characteristics can also be matched to prevailing driving conditions, thanks to the Drive Mode Select system, activated via a switch on the centre console, which is fitted to automatic models. ‘Normal’ mode is best suited for day-to-day driving, while ‘Eco’ mode reprograms the shift points of the automatic transmission to achieve optimum fuel economy. Finally, ‘Sport’ mode allows the gearbox to delay shifting and reduces the level of steering assistance for a sportier feel.
Manual models are equipped with KIA’s Flex Steer system, allowing the driver to switch between three levels of steering assistance – ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’ (which reduces the level of assistance for a more engaging drive), and ‘Comfort’ (which requires less effort to steer).
Next Level Dynamics
When developing the new Sorento, a key focus for the KIA chassis engineering team was achieving improvements in ride comfort, high-speed stability and handling response. Significant upgrades have been made to the steering and suspension in order to match the leaps forward in interior quality and NVH.
The fully independent suspension retains the format of the outgoing model (MacPherson struts at the front and KIA’s multi-link system at the rear), but features a range of modifications. At the rear, the subframe supporting the suspension has larger bushes to better isolate it from the cabin and the larger shock absorbers are now mounted vertically behind the axle line, improving body control.
These changes, together with the longer wheelbase, deliver a more compliant ride with a more progressive response to bumps in the road, making the new Sorento a very comfortable place in which to spend time on longer journeys. Additionally, the Sorento’s column-mounted, electric motor-driven power steering system (C-MDPS) has been upgraded to offer improved steering response, ‘on-centre’ feel and stability.
Brake size has also increased slightly for greater braking performance, with rear solid disc brakes growing from 302 mm in diameter to 305 mm. Solid disc brakes at the front are 320 mm in diameter.
Next Level Safety
The structure of the new Sorento is significantly stronger, thanks in large part to the more widespread use of ultra-high tensile steel. While the previous-generation model was made up of 24,4% ultra-high tensile steel (UHTS), this has been increased to 52,7% for the new model to aid the integrity of the car’s core structure in the event of an impact and also improve torsional rigidity for improved handling. The stronger steel has been used to reinforce the wheel arches, tailgate surround and rear-wheel surround.
The new Sorento also features more than twice as much ultra-strong hot-stamped steel as the outgoing model, up from 4,1% to 10,1% in the new model, greatly strengthening the A- and B-pillars.
Additionally, the all-new Sorento’s Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) system helps ensure the car remains stable when simultaneously braking and cornering, particularly on low-grip surfaces, by carefully controlling both the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and R-MDPS. Both systems are activated as soon as the car’s sensors detect a loss in traction, helping the driver to remain safely in control of the vehicle. Entry-level models feature a driver and passenger airbag as standard, while higher-specification models feature a 6-airbag system.
KIA South Africa will offer the all-new Sorento in four specification grades, ranging from LS and LX at the entry level to the mid-spec EX and top-spec SX.
Providing a highly appealing entry point into the range is the front-wheel drive KIA Sorento 2.4 LS, which is the only model powered by KIA’s 2,4-litre MPI engine, and the only model equipped with a six-speed manual transmission. Positioned to offer vast practicality and functionality to growing families and those with active lifestyles, the Sorento LS offers fuss-free motoring without compromising on space, comfort or value for money. The Sorento 2.4 LS is only available in five-seat configuration.
Moving up the range is the front-wheel drive Sorento 2.2 CRDi LX, powered by the R2.2-litre turbodiesel engine and equipped with a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. Offering more creature comforts than the preceding LS model, the Sorento 2.2 CRDi LX is also available only in five-seater configuration.
Apart from even more creature comforts, the KIA Sorento 2.2 CRDi EX gains the Dynamax AWD system, as well as two additional seats. A high-specification model that offers immense value for money, the Sorento EX is only bettered by the range-topping Sorento 2.2 CRDi SX AWD, which gains – over and above all items already included in the EX model – Blind Spot Detection, the Smart Power Tailgate and a full glass panoramic sunroof.