Tested: Kia’s bargain family SUV

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A new version o Kia’s big Sorento family SUV is due to arrive later this year. So to keep sales going the South Korean brand has added a new special edition to draw in buyers.

Here is everything you need to know about the Kia Sorento Black Edition.

Value

The Sorento “Black Edition” is based on the entry level Si. At $48,990 drive-away, it’s $4500 more than the Si but comes with leather trim, panoramic sunroof and 19-inch gloss black alloy wheels (up from 17s). To go with the flash wheels, Kia adds black grille and side mirrors, roof rails and skid plates. Square, cube-look front fog lamps and tinted glass on the rear windows and tailgate complete the aesthetic enhancements. Base grade means there’s no push-button start or keyless entry and the tailgate is manually operated. It gets Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

The Sorento is due to be replaced by the end of the year.
media_cameraThe Sorento is due to be replaced by the end of the year.

Comfort

The Sorento is due for replacement this year but, for a car launched in 2015, it’s kept up with the pack admirably. It was easy to find a comfortable driving position and the suspension absorbed bumps and corrugations without fuss, even with the lower profile tyres and larger diameter wheels. The screen’s menus and controls are easy to negotiate, although they are starting to look a little dated. Rear leg and headroom are generous, although the third row is best left to kids. Second-row passengers get their own air vents.

The Black Edition adds luxury appeal to the Sorento. Pics: Thomas Wielecki.
media_cameraThe Black Edition adds luxury appeal to the Sorento. Pics: Thomas Wielecki.

Safety

The development of driver aids has been rapid in recent years and the Sorento is beginning to show its age in this regard. It doesn’t get blind-spot warning or rear-cross traffic alert for backing out of the driveway. Active cruise control and lane keeping assist help on the highway and driver attention alert reminds you to take a break. The autonomous emergency braking can pick up pedestrians and cyclists. This model Sorento makes do with halogen headlights, which aren’t the most illuminating in the business.

Driving

The Black Edition Sorento comes with diesel or V6 petrol power, driven through the front wheels. The petrol V6 we drove has plenty of oomph for overtaking, is well matched to the eight-speed conventional auto but can get thirsty around town. You have to be gentle with the accelerator or the 206kW of power will overcome the grip of the front tyres — you’ll also feel a bit of a tug at the wheel accelerating through corners. Otherwise the Sorento has aged well, with a good balance of comfort and cornering ability plus nicely weighted and accurate steering.

Verdict 3.5/5

Nearing the end of its life cycle, the Sorento doesn’t feel as modern as some of the rivals but it’s well equipped and sharply priced.

Alternatives

Hyundai Santa Fe Active, $44,490 drive-away

Same engine and transmission as the Sorento but it’s a newer model developed on a more sophisticated platform. Cheaper but doesn’t get the Sorento’s leather and other goodies.

Mazda CX-9, from $50,408 drive-away

Bigger inside but cloth trim and less equipment. Powered by a smaller 2.5-litre turbo four with less power but more torque. Quality interior and strong safety credentials.

Skoda Kodiaq, from $47,990 drive-away

Smaller and slightly cheaper than the Sorento, the Kodiaq has a clever cabin with family-friendly touches. All-wheel drive, powered by a small but punchy four-cylinder turbo.

Kia Sorento Black Edition vitals

PRICE $48,990 drive-away

WARRANTY/SERVICING 7 years/u’ltd km, $2097 for 5 years

SAFETY 5 stars, 6 airbags, AEB, lane keep assist, active cruise control

ENGINE 3.5-litre V6, 206kW/336Nm

THIRST 10.0L/100km

BOOT 142L/605L/1662L

Originally published as Tested: Kia’s bargain family SUV