More than just a reskin, the latest Sorento features wide-ranging changes, such as a re-engineered bodyshell, improved ride, handling and refinement, plus additional convenience and safety features.
Kia Motors Australia's ride and handling engineering team again spent hundreds of hours and thousands of kilometres ensuring the best available balance between body control and ride composure to suit Australian drivers' needs.
Stronger subframes, DFD (Dual Flow Dampers) fitted front and rear to improve ride comfort and high-speed stability and an MDPS (Motor Driven Power Steering) system combine to provide precise vehicle control and "good" feel. Kia's new FlexSteer™ system provides three different settings (or weights) for the steering to match customer preference with Normal, Sport and Comfort modes. The effort required to turn the wheel varies with each mode, but the gearing (2.95 turns) remains the same.
On the 4WD Version (a 2WD model is also available), drivers who regularly face difficult driving conditions, tow trailers or go off-road, can choose the diesel 'on-demand' drivetrain which also offers a manually activated 'Lock Mode' to split the torque 50/50 between the front and rear axles.
In line with the extensive revisions to the bodyshell, front, side and rear impact protection has been improved. Inside, the upgraded Sorento is equipped with six airbags; dual front airbags, front side airbags and side curtain airbags (offering head protection to front and second row occupants).
Active safety technologies across the model range include the VSM (Vehicle Stability Management) system with ESC (electronic stability control), TCS (traction control), ABS (anti-lock braking), EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution), BAS (brake assist), HAC (hill-start assist control) and downhill brake control.
Front and rear parking sensors are standard across the range with both SLi and Platinum models gaining a reversing safety camera with a 130 degree wide-angle lens. While Platinum models also gain active HID (high intensity discharge) Xenon headlamps.
All upgraded Sorento models are equipped with an all-disc braking system featuring larger diameter (320mm) ventilated front discs and (carried over) 302mm solid discs at the rear. Stopping from 100kph can now be achieved in as little as 36.3 metres.
Motivated by a desire to echo the stronger structure within the new Sorento on the exterior, Kia's designers developed new front and rear bumpers with vertical-axis fog lights, a new front grille and headlamps with LED daytime running lamps, and a new tailgate with reshaped LED combination lamps. For Platinum owners, the Sorento's profile is enhanced with new, 10-spoke machine finished 19-inch alloy wheels.
Standard on the range-topping Platinum models is a new style two-part glass panoramic roof. The rear section is fixed, while the front section is a tilt-and-slide unit and a single powered roller blind allows the level of shade in the cabin to be finely adjusted.
Inside the Sorento's cabin, refreshed styling is combined with premium equipment. A new centre stack features a large display screen (SLi navigation and Platinum) above heating, ventilation, audio and auxiliary controls set out in logical horizontal bands, with fine detailing that echoes the appearance of a premium audio system.
Premium equipment includes powered eight-way driver's seat plus lumbar support (SLi and Platinum) and four-way passenger seat (Platinum), heated and ventilated front seats (Platinum), Bluetooth® hands-free system, the new style panoramic glass sunroof (Platinum) and a rear-view safety camera (SLi and Platinum). Air-conditioning with individual controls for the third row seats is standard on SLi and Platinum.
The new Sorento's stiffer bodyshell structure and vibration-damping subframe mountings are claimed to minimize noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). Further measures taken to reduce NVH include lining the engine bay bulkhead with all-new, three-layer, noise-lowering materials and fitting a new sound insulator to the transmission tunnel.
The local-release version of the Sorento will be available with the 204kW 3.5-litre petrol Lambda V6 MPI (335Nm) and 145kW R2.2 TCI (turbo charged inter-cooler) turbo-diesel engine with 421Nm in manual guise and 436Nm coupled to the 6-speed automatic. Also under consideration for the Australian market is the 141kW, 242Nm 2.4-litre Theta II GDI engine.
Every upgraded Sorento model features a six-speed transmission (manual or automatic), while buyers are offered a choice of 2WD (front-wheel drive) for petrol and 4WD (four-wheel drive) for diesel. The auto used in the Sorento is the world's most compact six-speed unit. It features two operating modes - fully automatic or 'Sport' with the latter offering clutch-less sequential manual gear changes - up or down, one ratio at a time - for greater driver involvement.
Kia Motors Australia Chief Operating Officer Tony Barlow said the latest iteration of the Sorento was a clear indication of the direction Kia was taking as a vibrant player in the Australian new car market.
"Without departing from the core values of our product and our history, Kia, like the new Sorento, continues to refine and define itself in one of the world's most competitive new car markets," Mr Barlow said. "This latest Sorento is bigger, better, stronger, safer and better value - all the things Kia Motors values and strives to provide for our customers."