If we talked about vehicle transformation, Kia is always on my top list.
It was in 2008 when I first drive the Kia Sorento. Back then I was totally impressed on how Koreans had improved their vehicles.
Who would ever forget Kia’s best-selling subcompact car (the CD Pride) early in the 90’s? The diminutive car, that clashes with the Corollas and the Sentras—on being the top best-selling car. I’m sure most of us, had different good stories to share about the Kia Pride.
So driving the Kia Sorento was absolutely a change of perception for me. But that was four years ago.
Just a week ago, Columbian Autocar Corporation (CAC), the Philippine distributor of Kia vehicles in the country, was quite generous to lend me their 2011 Kia Sorento. So we took-off the Sorento for a quick spin to find out what’s inside its cocoon, despite the heavy week rain in the Metropolis.
POWER TO SURPRISE
From any angles, the new Sorento looks more different from the previous first generation model. What makes it more interesting is that the Sorento ditches the outgoing model’s truck-based and stiffly sprung ladder frame in favor of a much more rigid, more compliant unibody. The chassis is shared with the Hyundai Santa Fe and has a strut-type suspension in front and a multilink design at the back.
One the biggest turning point of Kia has been the introduction of Peter Schreyer as the chief designer of Kia (formerly the head designer for Audi). Schreyer has brought a new European design to all new Kia vehicles. The Schreyer grille, as it’s called, has been a great hit with consumers who often can’t believe the cars are Kia.
For 2011, the Sorento looks more aggressive and youthful. The large blacked-out lower grill openings and fog lamps, provides the crossover a sort of tuner-look.
With an elegant aesthetic, the interior has to match also. Although Kia’s R & D says they worked significantly on interiors, there are still hard plastics on doors and dashboard.
Inside, the Sorento’s cabin represents a modern design and high-level of fit and finish. The second row folds flat into the floor; so does the third row. Although, cargo room behind the third row is so limited, that you may want to just lower the seat—ending it cramped for your groceries supplies.
Standard comforts can be found throughout, including air conditioning, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel with integrated audio controls, trip control meter, and rear map pockets.
Power-wise, our test unit came with a 2.2-liter DOHC CRDi with e-VGT intercooler engine. The 6-speed automatic transmission is a fine match to the engine and shifts smoothly and efficiently. It can be manually switched to shiftronic mode, but works well enough on its own that manual transmission is never really necessary.
Sorento’s ride and handling overall is on-par with its class. This 7-seater SUV is totally new vehicle that’s lighter, faster, and more efficient. On the road, the suspension system also ensures a comfortable ride, thanks to the newly replaced fully independent suspension at all four corners along with its 235/65/R 17 wheels and tires.
Safety feature in Sorento include anti-lock brake system (ABS), and RPAS (Rear Parking Assist System) as well as anti-whiplash headrests and dual front airbags.
All told, Kia has created a comfortable and value-driven crossover out of the Sorento.
• Smooth ride and handling
• Spacious 7-seater
• Engine performance
• Small cargo room at the rear back
• Hard plastic on doors
CATEGORY Mid-size SUV
ENGINE 2.2-liter DOHC 16-valve CRDI with E-VGT intercooler
MAX. OUTPUT 190 ps @ 3,800 rpm
MAX. TORQUE 426 Nm @ 1,800-2,500 rpm
LENGTH 4685 mm
Height 1745 mm (with roof rails)
Width 1885 mm
WheelBase 2700 mm
Transmission 6-speed AT
WHEELS & TIRES 235 / 65 R17
SUSPENSION (F) MacPherson (R) RMulti-link
Price as tested Php. 1.790 million