What is it?
Kia’s big, top of the line SUV is a diesel powered seven seater, with a good looking but aging interior.
A sister ship to Hyundai’s recently updated Santa Fe, it’s a roomy and well featured machine.
The GT-Line is exclusively diesel, with lower grades offering a 3.5-litre petrol-fed V6.
The 2.2-litre diesel offers 147kW of power and 441Nm of torque, with the latter available from 1750rpm to 2750rpm.
Transmission is 8-speed auto only.
What’s it cost?
Kia’s website has driveaway offers for the Sorento range but doesn’t specify the price of the GT-Line.
The documentation says $58,990 plus on road costs, with $595 for premium paint.
Our test car was clad in Steel Grey.
This includes Kia’s industry leading 7-year warranty, plus capped price servicing over the seven years. The total for seven years is $3319.
Inside is a spaciou, leather-clad seven seater with a third row deployed by a brilliantly simple pull strap system.
Pull the strap, the seat comes up. Pull the strap taut, give the seat a gentle push, and the seat goes down again.
The centre row seats are powered on the passenger side to allow access to the rear, and both are flip and fold as well.
The front seats are heated and vented. The steering wheel is also heated, and the driver has an eight-way power adjust seat, with two-position memory.
Should the interior become a bit dark, a full roof of glass can be unveiled via a powered fabric shade.
The plastics are of a high quality, fine grained finish, akin to a leather look.
Where the architecture is slowly fading is in the overall design.
As clean and ergonomic as the layout may be, it’s now falling behind the growing standard that has the touchscreen mounted, higher on the dash with its own housing.
Otherwise there’s little to dislike up front, aside from a DAB tuner that needs refinement. Kia’s tuner source simply isn’t as sensitive as some others, and is prone to dropouts in more places.
Thankfully there’s Bluetooth streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto from which to stream music from smartphone apps.
But there’s no smartphone charge pad.
An LCD speedo faces the driver and there is plenty of drive information at the flick of a steering wheel mounted switch.
Safety is high with the GT-Line getting Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Alert, plus a 360 degree camera over the other models.
Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) and Forward Collision Alert are standard throughout the range as is Lane Keep Assist.
The Sorento also has “only” six airbags, missing out on a driver’s kneebag.
Climate control aircon is standard throughout the interior.
To access the rear seats from the rear, a powered tailgate is standard.
Outside you’ll find sidesteps and 19-inch alloys with 235/55/19 series tyres from Kumho.
LED driving lights, bending and self-leveling headlights are matched by stylish LED rear lights.
The overall presence is smooth, with subtle lines that break up the profile of the 4.8m long wagon.
What’s it go like?
Unusually, there was a measureable amount of turbo lag off idle.
The car starts with the push of a button, and pulls away easily. At a stop sign, it sits at just under 1000rpm, but when you press the go pedal, there’s hesitancy for a half second or so before boost kicks to fire the big machine forward.
Freeway speeds see the rev counter sit at 1500, just below that mammoth peak torque.
What this means is easy and relaxed acceleration when needed. Overtaking is as easy as a gentle squeeze, as is braking.
The pedal is delightfully communicative, letting the driver know just how much pressure is required.
It’s an all-wheel drive system with torque sent to the rear on demand, plus there is a centre diff lock for when Sir or Madam decides to tackle a puddle or bit of mud.
There are four drive modes — Smart, Eco, Normal, and Sport — which adjust the throttle and gearbox to provide different driving sensations.
The steering is numb on centre and to a few degrees off centre, but is otherwise weighted beautifully.
The nose is prone to understeer, but it’s controlled easily by simply lifting of the accelerator which allows the engine to brake the nose inwards.
Being a big SUV, all round vision is great, and makes for safe driving.
The engine is a quiet thing on idle and on the freeway, but when provoked brings a muted thrum rather than a harsh clatter.
The aluminium bonnet has plenty of sound deadening.
Transmission-wise it’s a pearler. The changes are super slick, and for the most part the only sensation is the barest movement of the body.
The suspension is also a great setup. It damps the bigger potholes and speedbumps considerably, with rebound a one off proposition.
There is no float, no dive under hard braking (that engages the emergency flashing system), and when punted hard, the ride is supple and composed.
Economy varies depending on the drive.
We took it on a good freeway drive and saw a best of 6.0L/100km, with some around town that delivered a final figure of 8.9L.
The tank by the way holds 71 litres.
What we like?
- Roomy interior that is lovely and comfortable
- Around town drive quality and economy
- Flexibility of the engine and transmission
What we don’t like?
- DAB tuner needs work
- Diesel lag off idle
- Interior starting to fall behind opposition
The bottom line?
There is little doubt the Sorento GT-Line is a winner with regard to value, driveability, and general family usefulness.
Kia’s website says the Sorento is in runout, so keep your eyes peeled for a new model soon.
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Kia Sorento GT-Line, priced from $58,990