What is it?
A revamped version of Kia’s popular Sorento SUV — Kia’s pre-emptive strike at the new Land Rover Freelander, due in November.
Taking aim at the Freelander may seem ambitious for a car company known for bargain prices and plentiful spec, but not when you consider its heavy investment in new facilities and new engines.
What’s it like?
Alterations to the Sorento are minimal. A new grille, fatter wheelarches, restyled bumpers and an optional single-colour paint application (the two-tone is still available) keep it looking fresh.
A new 3.3-litre V6 petrol arrives in December, but we drove the 2.5-litre CRDi, which has been tweaked to improve torque, power and economy. Seventy-five per cent of peak torque is supposed to be available from as low as 1300rpm, but it feels flat below 2000rpm. Press on, and while the four-pot sounds a little harsh, power delivery is silky smooth.
The cabin is solidly put together, although some vibration can be felt through the clutch pedal, steering wheel and gearstick.
The ride is now softer, which makes the car feel compliant, but the chassis wallows and heaves over extended crests. At least the permanent four-wheel-drive system on XS models, with low and high-range gearing, makes off-roading a reality.
Should I buy one?
The Sorento has moved forward with this facelift, but with similarly priced, more accomplished competition such as Hyundai’s seven-seat Santa Fe, it’s a pity Kia didn’t spend more time finessing the details.