DRIVEN: Kia Sorento is savvy

It’s a great cruiser for large families, with everything that can click or bang.

Scientists tell us when Donald Trump eventually launches The Apocalypse, few organisms on earth will survive the explosions, massive heat and world-wide radiation clouds.

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Expected to carry on living will be the cockroach, Dakar motorcycle racers and corrupt ANC government parasites.

The cockroach has lived – unchanged – for millions of years, and can obviously adapt to anything.

Dakar racers are too crazy to understand stuff like excruciating pain, fatigue, or life-threatening situations. After the blasts, they will simply think the race route has been extended and carry on riding.

And, we know from expensive experience that our fat cat government thieves will never be held accountable for anything. We would like to add another perpetual survivor: the diesel engine.

We know it is currently the fashion in motoring journalism to bash the diesel powerplant as being dirty, inefficient and a killer of Mother Nature, but we will always have good things to say about torquey, smooth, strong and fuel-efficient engines.

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Like the 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel unit found in the Kia Sorento CRDI. The engine produces 147kW of power at 3 800rpm, with maximum torque of 440Nm available between 1 750 and 2 750rpm.

This makes it more powerful than most similarly-sized diesel units, while being virtually bulletproof.

All of which met with our full approval, given the chance to drive the Sorento for a few days.

Other things that impressed were the vehicle’s sleek looks, massive interior space – it can seat seven people – and wide-ranging comfort features.

The most important would be the all new Kia eight-speed automatic transmission.

Passing the engine’s massive torque to the front wheels, the gearbox is one of the smoothest we have ever encountered.

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Choosing a drive mode between Eco, Comfort, Sport or Smart, you simply get on with the business of tromping the accelerator plus brake and the transmission will ensure you are in the correct gear at all times, so unobtrusively you forget it is there.

The electrically adjustable leather-clad seats are comfortable and the rear ones can be folded flat for huge luggage space.

Facing the front occupants is an eight-inch colour touchscreen with Satellite Navigation and a variety of audio options, playing through six high-quality speakers.

Other inside additions include dual zone automatic air-conditioning, automatic headlamp control, auto-folding and heated side mirrors, rear USB ports, cruise control and an electric hand brake.

Also a favourite: the Sorento boasts a full-sized spare wheel for its 18-inch alloy wheels, shod with 235/60 R18 rubber.

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Safety features abound, including ABS brakes, six airbags and child seat anchors, electronic stability contol, hill-start assist, rear park distance control and a reverse camera displayed on the touchscreen.

All of which came in handy, because the Sorento is a large vehicle; not that easy to manoeuvre in tight spots.

What it did best is cruise on the highway, maintaining a steady 120km/h at around 2 000rpm in eighth gear, with the engine barely audible.

It feels kind of top heavy in sharp corners, but its buyers will hardly engage in street races. Another positive aspect was the fuel consumption, which evened out at 6.8l/100km over the test duration.

In all, a great cruiser for large families, with everything that can click or bang at a reasonable price tag of R599 995.

All Sorento models come as standard with an unlimited kilometre, five year warranty, plus a standard five year/100 000km service plan and three years of roadside assistance.

Likes 

  • The transmission is an absolute jewel
  • Outstanding engine torque
  • Good fuel consumption.

Dislikes 

  • The vehicle feels bulky – because it is.

Verdict 

  • Comfortable, large, capable and good value for money.

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