By Khulekani Dumisa (@dumisa_khulekani)
Affordability is a key factor to consider when buying a car. Actually, it should be when buying everything. Alas, we know that it is seldom the case when buying cars. South Africans are known for buying cars as status symbols often overlooking things such as affordability and practicality. On my recent appearance on Ignition’s Buyers Guide, one of the viewers had written in to ask what he should buy between a Kia Koup and a Mazda 3 sedan. The viewer has two children. His wife wants the Mazda 3 whilst he prefers the Koup for its sportier credentials. This chap shouldn’t have written in at all. The Koup will be wholly unsuitable for the needs of his family but to underscore the type of thinking that goes into buying a car, the chap found himself unable to decide. Fortunately for him, his wife knew what the right call was. We also helped him to choose the right choice in the circumstances.
Recently we got to test the Kia Sorento. The Sorento hasn’t found much success in South Africa but has done well considering the segment it competes in. Our test Serento was the 2.2 CRDI LS. This is the second from bottom version and retails from R489,000. The CRDI LS Sorento did not have luxury extras such as cruise control, a Smart Key with Start/Stop button, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob, and electric folding side mirrors with integrated indicators and many more other features that we had become accustomed to in our previous test car from Kia but what the Sorento lacked in fancy extras, it made up in size, power and practicality.
The Kia Sorento is a massive car that can easily swallow up a family of five of all sizes as it did our travel party to Rustenburg in North West. There is tons of space in the cabin. The driver and front passenger have ample legroom but the clear winners are the occupants of the back seat. You could swear all the Sorento’s 4,7 meters of length went to this row of seats. The mammoth 660-litre could swallow up our luggage for the weekend without any of it having to come into the cabin. No more fights between dad, mom and the kids about which teddy should not make the weekend trip away.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the engine. What a sweet engine. Our 2.2 litre diesel 6 speed automatic engine is capable of 140 kW of power and 440 Nm of torque. A word of caution is that you should not be bothered by the 0 – 100 km/h sprint of 9.3 seconds. It means nothing. The Sorento has enough power to carry its body very well. It does this ever so capably in peak hour traffic when it must accelerate to negotiate a change of lanes and when you are on the highway needing to maintain power up an incline or when overtaking. The sweet part is that the use of power does not become a burden at the fuel pump. Kia claims fuel consumption of 6.7 litres/100km. At our worst we managed 7.8 litres/100km which is not too far from the 6.7litres/100km. I must say this was achieved using the ECO mode driving which is designed to achieve optimum fuel efficiency. The other modes are normal and sport. We did try the latter and it made the drive even more fun but that came at seeing the fuel consumption climb up and within a short while, we were back on ECO mode.
The highlight of trip was how the car handled itself on the gravel road to our bed and breakfast about 16 km from Rustenburg. The suspension which uses a MacPherson Strut for the front and a Coupled Torsion Beam Axle at the back allowed the car to take the gravel in its stride. None of the bumps were transferred into the car. We had complained in the city that the engine was a bit loud but surprisingly on the gravel road, where we expected the car to be the nosiest, none of that happened. The car was composed and quiet for the most part.
The Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDI LS does not have fancy features such as a massive entertainment screen, electronically adjusted seats or a large panoramic roof but we found its quality interior with soft quality plastics adequate and perhaps enough to convince us that we could spend a lot of time inside the Sorento. One thing we missed in our test car was cruise control. Still, that was not a deal breaker.
If affordability is a thing for you and you are looking for a decent family car with tons of space at a good price, we have no problems recommending the Kia Sorento to you. Other alternatives are the Toyota Fortuner, Ford Everest and Korean sister, the Hyundai Santa Fe.
Our test Sorento 2.2 CRDi LS is sold with the industry leading five-year/unlimited kilometer warranty, a five-years/unlimited km roadside assistance and a five-year or 100 000km service plan.
These are the models in the Kia Sorento range and their pricing:
Kia Sorento 2.4 LS Manual 5-Seater – R457 995
Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi LS Automatic 5-Seater – R489,995
Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi LX Automatic 5-Seater – R582,995
Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi EX Automatic 7-Seater – R686,995
Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi SX Automatic 7-Seater – R713,995
Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi SXL Automatic 7-Seater – R733,995
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