The 2018 Kia Sorento is one of the best seven-seat SUVs on the market - and now even better. But don’t get stitched up by a Kia Dealer selling you the old model over the next few weeks. Here are the new model details
The 2018 Kia Sorento is a vehicle I get a lot of enquiry about. Sorento generally, and this upgrade in particular, lately.
I’m booked into the new V6 and the diesel for a week each, mid-November. I’ll have a full road test for you shortly thereafter. For now though - here’s the update on the new model.
My number one piece of advice here is: Do not get stiffed into buying the 2017 model. That’s old stock and unless the price is absurdly right, don’t do this to yourself. The new one is absurdly better.
The 2018 Sorento gets a host of upgrades and it is only a small additional cost over and above the model it replaces. Especially on the GT-Line, which is the Sorento I get the most enquiry about.
It’s not just a ‘hair and makeup’ upgrade - although it is fundamentally still the same vehicle - there are substantial improvements that would be of benefit to most owners. So here they are - the top 10 things you need to know about the 2018 Kia Sorento.
1. PHONE INTEGRATION
There’s a new eight-inch multimedia cluster the headline act of which is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. That’s going to overcome a lot of previous Sorento buyer objections right there. We love our phones. And we love some steamy app-based integration. I know I do.
And we hate our carmaker phone integrations - understandably on this last point. And the screen on which those phone emulations exist is up from seven inches previously. So that’s a bit Ron Jeremy, right there.
2. AUDIO UPGRADES
Hand in hand with the Apple and Android goodness is: Better sound quality - at least, in the higher grades of Sorento. The existing Infinity premium sound system in Sorento has been replaced with a high-end Harman/Kardon sound system in SLi and GT-Line. 640 watts, 10 speakers, surround-sound.
It comes with a fat beat-enhancing, digital sound processing doo-hickey called QuantumLogic, which some marketing ninjas, doubtless high on crack cocaine, claim "...extracts signals from the original recording, and redistributes them into an authentic, multi-dimensional soundstage…"
Where do I sign? Multi-dimensional sound stage. (That’s a quote from the press kit. Really.) Which, they say, results in "...clear, refined and detailed playback of a driver’s favourite tunes". But still - probably - insufficient to make listening to Celine Dion a palatable aural experience, I’d suggest. (That’s not a quote.)
3. EIGHT-SPEED AUTO
There’s a new eight-speed auto, down there. 2018 Sorento is the first Kia SUV available with this particular new transmission toy of multi-ratio madness. It was designed in-house by Kia and launched in 2016.
What it did for the past year and a bit was anyone’s guess. But it’s here now. Apparently there are an incredible 143 newly-patented technologies in that transmission. Who knew?
So - eight gears across the Sorento range henceforth. Plus reverse. They throw that in, free. It’s a conventional auto, too, not a new-fangled CVT or DCT - and I know how some of you feel about those gear-shifting instruments of the devil. (According to you. If they’re done well, CVT and DCT are quite nice.)
Kia claims the new octo-shifter (that’s not what they call it - but they should) they claim the octo-shifter has has fewer control valves than other autos and thus (Kia continues to claim) it facilitates a more direct mechanical link to the engine and (in a near orgasmic frenzy of Kia’s continued transmission claims, Kia says it) delivers quicker shifts than the outgoing six-speed automatic transmission.
And, just when you thought it was time to ‘lie back and enjoy a relaxed, apres claim frenzy cigarette’, Kia also reveals about seven per cent less CO2 emission stems from the deployment of that not-named-Octo-Shifter transmission, plus four different drive modes - four! - (Eco, Comfort, Sport and Smart.) Or ‘Dopey’ if you’re the Prime Minister.
The transmission not formally called Octo-Shifter now, or any time soon, also tastes twice as chocolatey as actual chocolate and helps prevent tooth decay. (That last claim is definitely bullshit. Probably not even a real claim.) I’ll tell you how it drives in November.
4. NEW PETROL V6
The petrol V6 is upgraded to 3.5 litres from 3.3 with a longer stroke, which (all other things being equal) will also mean more torque at normal driving revs. In other words - more low rpm and mid-rpm power, because kilowatts equals Newton-metres times rpm divided by 9549 if you are livin la vie d’metrication. So that’s excellent.
The 2.2 diesel - a crackingly good engine - one of the best diesels on the market - carries over from the old model.
Bear in mind the V6 is a front-driver and the diesel has on-demand all-wheel drive. Wheelspin off the mark can be a thing in the V6 if you routinely channel your inner Madamme Lash via the accelerator.
5. RANGE RE-JIG
The model range is now Si, Sport, SLi and GT-Line - in ascending order of throwing hundred-dollar bills all over the showroom floor. So basically the marketing ninjas took this facelift as an opportunity to can the Platinum and replace the old Si Limited with Sport.
Because the deckchairs needed rearranging, apparently. And there’s nothing a marketing ninja hates more than deck chairs overdosed on entropy.
6. PETROL PRICING
Pricing for the petrol variants is now: Si $42,990 (that’s up $2000); Sport $44,990 (that’s up $1000); SLi $46,990 (that’s a hike of $1000).
This is all before on-road costs, here in the post-convict paradise we call ‘Straya. Mate. Ballpark for the on-roads: about $5000.
7. DIESEL PRICING
Diesel pricing is: Si $45,490 (up $1000); Sport $48,490 (up $1000); SLi $50,490 (up $1000); GT-Line $58,990 (Up $500).
Remember, you cannot have a V6 petrol GT-Line no matter how hard you beg. GT-Line is diesel-only because … product planning.
There’s big safety on 2018 Sorento. Auto Emergency braking and (quote) ‘advanced cruise control’ (which I think means ‘adaptive cruise’ is now standard across the range. Plus, on GT-Line you get Lane Keeping Assist, Driver Attention Alert, a 360-degree camera, and bendy Wendy’s ‘follow you around a corner’ headlamps that turn with the steering. I don’t think they call it that in the brochure.
Unfortunately, and you need to be across this - the third seating row in Sorento - way up the back - does not get side-impact head-protecting curtain airbags. Plenty of other seven-seat SUVs are like this. Seems like a notable omission to me. If you want that - buy a Mazda CX-9, or a Kia Carnival.
9. GT-LINE FEATURES
Trainspotter’s guide to the GT-Line: You get four-lamp LED fog lights, red brake callipers, a more prominent sill step, (I friggin’ hate those shrinking violet sill steps - if you’re going to have a sill step, see it from space, I say). As a counterpoint, there’s subtle GT Line badging designed to tell lesser Sorento owners that yours is superior, but without overtly gloating. Because … self respect.
There are new chrome twin exhaust tips as well - that’s very important. Plus: What Kia describes as (quote) “unique” gear shift paddles. I’d hate them to be just, you know, regular, off-the-rack paddles. And - glace cherry time - a series of satin chrome interior highlights.
Because: who didn’t lie awake as an adolescent dreaming about a series of satin chrome interior highlights? I know I did.
10. TOO FUNNY...
My favourite thing about the 2018 Sorento is not any of that stuff. I actually think its a terrific SUV for average Aussie family transport. The outgoing one was excellent. This is incrementally better.
But my favourite thing about it, in point of fact, is this quote from Damien Meredith, the Chief Operating Officer of Kia Australia. A man with, in my view, superhuman self-control. Who said:
“We always knew that the Sorento was an exceptional car, a belief that was verified by the experts within the media.”
- Damien Meredith, Chief Operating Officer, Kia Australia
He actually did say that. With a straight face (at least that’s what I am led to believe). I don’t know if I could do that. Imagine even needing the verification of these “experts” within the media. A very grim situation.
Where would one even look, with a view to finding these alleged ‘experts within the media’. I wouldn’t know where to look. Perhaps the CSIRO could help. They’ve got a scanning electron microscope. Even so, the search could take many years.
Anyway - that’s what you need to know. Vis-a-vis the 2018 Kia Sorento, which is onsale now. Don’t let one of those showroom floor vermin stiff you into buying the outgoing one. That would be a tragedy.
I’m pretty sure, thanks to these upgrades, it’s taken one small step for Sorento, but a giant leap ahead of Santa Fe, at least for the time being. Santa Fe is being primed for an update early in 2018 - so doubtless it will get back in the game at that point.
As discussed, I will march into Kia’s palatial head office in Shitsville, with the bat pumpy, and the unmistakable gleam of resolve in my eye, and drive away mid-November. That’s one way to get on the news…
Sorento drive impressions to come - I understand they’ve tweaked it a bit in the dynamics domain as well. For now, though, if you want a new Sorento, the options are: limber up for the time-honoured showroom floor reaming or reach out to me here >>
I guess it all depends how much you’ve been looking forward to that showroom floor reaming. It is quite the memorable experience, once every three or four years - so do make the most of it, if that’s your choice. I know the dealer will.