The Kia Sorento awakens as you approach the car, the mirrors fold out and the lights come on. The car is welcoming you to enter, but doesn’t unlock until your hand touches the front door handles. You open the door to find the driver’s seat has automatically slid back ready for you to enter, you press the start button and gently glide away.
If only family life was that serene! In between the awakening of the Kia and you tearing off because you are most likely running late, again, you have had to load the children’s school bags into the boot, go back into the house to collect forgotten homework. Then once you have wrangled the children into the car got them to sit still long enough for you to do up the child restraint you can then drive off!
Thankfully, the Kia Sorento is a great seven seat family car with many features that will make your life easier. Starting at the back, the third row of seats is large enough for adults, although you will have your knees up around your ears if you do happen to sit back there, it would be OK for short journeys only. There are speakers and an air conditioner control for temperature and fan speed back there, but no USB points. The third row does not have any child restraint points so it is only suitable for older children. On the plus side you can actually see the children in the third row from the rear vision mirror, which is better than the Tesla Model X, the only other seven seater I have experienced.
The third row of seats are easily engaged manually by pulling up on the strap at the back of them and to fold down you simply release them by pulling this strap again and pushing the seat down. But before you fold them up you will have to remove the cargo blind and in all the cars I have experienced this has had to be done very carefully in order to prevent the scratching of the plastic with the hard end of the cargo blind, but the Sorento has a solution for this. The ends of the cargo blind have a textile covering so they don’t scratch! I imagine this would also prevent rattles as well?
To get into the third row of seats you need to slide the second row forward and recline the seats forward. Having to do this means that you need to think about where you have your child restraints located. Otherwise you will be constantly undoing your child restraint to fold the seat forward so you can access the third row. Of course this is not a major issue if you are only using the third row occasionally.
With the third row of seats in use the rear boot is small and would only fit a stroller and a small amount of shopping (officially 142 litres of space). There is a small storage area under the rear floor, which would be good for items that you do not need to access every day. Another good space saving measure is the full size spare tyre is secured under the car at the rear.
The boot space with the third row of seats folded down is 605 litres and would easily swallow a pram and the weekly shop, plus most of the other paraphernalia you have to carry around with you when you have small children. Should you need to turn your Sorento into a moving van, the second row of seats folds flat giving you quite a long tall space to work with, a massive 1,662 litres in fact. The Sorento can also tow up to 2,000kg with a braked trailer or 750kg with an unbraked trailer, should you be going on holiday and need to take half the contents of your children’s bedrooms with you!
The second row of seats has three rear tether points and two ISOFix points and the seats offer plenty of leg room even for adults. If you are only using the two outside seats you can fold the centre area down to reveal two drink bottles holders or you can fold it completely down so you can access the boot or third row of seats through the middle of them. This would make it easy to pass things between the seats, something my children delighted in doing.
There are built in window blinds for the second row of seats that would be great for very young children when you need to protect them from the bright sun and you can even raise and lower the window with the blind in place. The Sorento has a huge panoramic roof that goes all the way passed the second row of seats and it makes the cabin feel open and airy.
There is one USB point and one 12V point at the base of the centre console for the second row of seats and the air conditioning has fan speed control, but no separate temperature control. Another great feature is the floor of the second row is flat making it easier for children to traverse the area without having to trip over the transmission tunnel. There is also a single carpet mat that can be easily removed for vacuuming. All great features for just making your life just that little bit easier.
For me the driver’s seat was at the perfect height to slide right on to, no stepping up or down. The leather appointed front seats feature the GT-Line logo and are very comfortable. Both front seats are heated and cooled, have 8-way power adjustment, plus the driver gets 4-way lumbar support and thigh extender with a memory function for two positions.
Something I thought was a brilliant idea is electric controls for the passenger seat that the driver can access. This means you can easily move the passenger seat forward if you need to without having to awkwardly lean over or get out of the car to do it.
The steering wheel has paddle shifts to ‘manually’ change gears in the 8-speed automatic gearbox when you really need to get moving and it’s heated, which is something that you will love on those cold winter’s mornings driving your kids to Saturday sport. There are controls for audio and Bluetooth on the steering wheel meaning you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to change the audio source or answer a phone call.
The centre console is multifunctional with the cup holder that is adjustable for different size cups or drink bottles. At the very front there is one USB, one 12V and one AUX point. Inside the centre console arm rest is a space large enough for a small handbag.
The SLi and GT-Line models come with a 10 speaker Harmon Kardon sound system so you can really enjoy the music from the DAB digital radio, iPod or streaming from your Bluetooth connected phone. Like in the Stinger you can only use the voice recognition if you connect your phone using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The 8” LCD touch screen allows you to operate the satellite navigation and view the 360o camera, which is only available on the GT-Line. The quality of the camera is fantastic and I not only used it for reverse parking, but also navigating tight parking stations to avoid hitting the kerbs! All Sorento models come with front and rear parking sensors with dash display and a rear view camera with dynamic parking guidelines.
Similar to the Jaguar XE and XF dash design there is a lip that follows the line from the top of the door all the way around the front of the dash below the windscreen. Like the Jag I think it would be annoying to clean, but it looked nicer in the Sorento as it was finished in gloss black, which makes a nice shadow effect.
The GT-Line I drove had a 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine that produces 206kW and 336Nm of torque at 5,000 rpm and this was plenty of power to enable the Sorento to complete overtakes with relative ease. There are four drive modes Comfort, Eco, Smart and Sport, but you cannot configure the suspension, steering or engine for them. The official combined fuel consumption is 10L/100km and I achieved 11.8L/100km for the week I drove the Sorento and considering I spent most of my time in Sport mode this is quite reasonable, I think.
The safety features only available on the GT-Line Sorento models include auto levelling LED front headlights that bend around corners and LED fog lights. There is also blind spot assist and lane keep assist and this worked well on roads with good line marking. The Sorento model range has a 5-star ANCAP rating and all models have front, side and curtain SRS airbags and side door impact beams to help keep your family safe in case of an accident.
The Kia Sorento GT-Line with the 3.5 litre petrol engine is a really great family car. Using the seven seats on a daily basis would offer some challenges, but the third row of seats is comfortable enough for the job if required. It features many creature comforts you would expect to find on an expensive European car for something a third or even half the price (it starts at $55,490 plus on-road costs and as tested $56,085 with optional premium paint). The ride comfort is lovely and there is not much road and engine noise that enters the cabin, it’s a very pleasant place to be.
So if your family is outgrowing your current car you should check it out. Busy families need all the help they can get to make their lives just a little bit easier and the Kia Sorento GT-Line certainly delivers help in spades by providing a comfortable, practical family car.
For more information about the Kia Sorento visit your preferred Kia Dealer.
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.