2018 Kia Sorento Review

Kia Sorento front view

2018 Kia Sorento V6
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Need seven seats but don’t plan on heading off-road? Step this way – Kia has the SUV for you.

“Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.”

We’ve all heard that saying before, and it can apply as much to ice-cream as it does to cars.

So when someone says they’re looking for a seven-seat SUV and the Kia Sorento V6 is on their shopping list, don’t mock them – it’s a very good machine indeed.

If you plan on going off-road, then, of course this isn’t the vehicle for you. You’ll want the Toyota Prado for that. But you’ll pay handsomely for the privilege, because the Sorento is around 25 per cent cheaper.

But let’s be honest, how many Sorento owners do you know that will go off-road? Even the ones that have all-wheel drive have probably never seen a grain of beach sand in their lives.

So, for day to day transport, unless it’s snowing or regularly flooding where you live, then driving the front wheels only may be okay. It’s even more okay when it’s this V6 powering it.

Kia Sorento centre console

Engine and transmission

The V6 gasoline motor was only launched with front-wheel-drive in some markets, which is the vehicle we have here.

Turbo-diesels in the same markets were all-wheel-drive, which is a shame because while the diesel is an excellent motor, the V6 is also smooth and quiet and would pair well with all four wheels being powered.

The six-cylinder is 3.5-litres is capacity and produces 276hp (206kW) and 247 lb-ft (336Nm) of torque, which is more power but less torque than its diesel counterpart, but in this application, it’s just enough.

The V6 is matched to a very competent eight-speed auto, but with all that power running through just the front wheels, you can squeal the wheels if you stomp on it.

Taking it easy first and then applying a bit more throttle is the way to go here.

Kia Sorento rear

Doing that sees a very quick midsizer, especially when rolling. You’ll also find that’s the case when it’s filled to the brim with people. On the roll, the Sorento is brilliant, and can easily overtake larger machines thanks to its eight-speed auto quickly giving you the right gear.

It’s a credit to Kia that when the engine is idling, you cannot hear it at all. It is genuinely silent, and that’s not something that can be said about every V6 out there.

Without turbocharging the engine isn’t going to be the easiest on the dino-juice. It drinks like a V8, unfortunately, but we did find that around town it was doing 17.4 mpg, which isn’t too bad.

Just so you know, the diesel gives you 26 mpg, so you can see why people do like the oil-burner.

The tank is only 18.7 gallons, so it’s not massively expensive to fill, either.

Drive experience

As the base model, our test car was fitted with the smallest wheels On offer. At only 17-inches, you’d could surmise that cornering is going to be a liability.

On the contrary, it happily threads through curves without ploughing into understeer. And that’s despite power only running through the front wheels.

You have to bear in mind that it’s no sports car, but it suits the vehicle and owners won’t worry if the road turns twisty.

Kia Sorento front three quarter view

What is a surprise is how well the Sorento rides. On these 17s, the ride feels like it could come from air suspension. It’s not, of course, but it absorbs bumps so well and yet still will take a corner or too without falling over. It’s very impressive.

The steering may be electric, but Kia has endowed it with a good heft, so you don’t feel like you’re playing a video game. And even in the various drive modes, the weighting still feels quite good.

Dynamically, the Sorento is competent, and that will suit its target audience just fine.

Kia Sorento interior


Look inside and you are greeted with an interior that’s spacious, but one that doesn’t break the mould design-wise.

The plastics used are fine, but you can see that Kia has tried to make it feel more premium than it looks. The fake stitching across the dash, for example, is meant to imitate a leather trim, but it would have been more convincing leaving it as a plastic dashtop.

Kia Sorento back seats

Some of the surfaces could be a little less glossy, and the all-black colouring does get a little much. Thankfully, the glasshouse does let in a lot of light, so it never feels too cramped.

The seats are covered in an easy-clean fabric, and they have excellent padding and good bolstering, too.

The second row has heaps of headroom and legroom, and even more space can be availed if the bench (which splits 60/40) is slid backward.

Kia Sorento luggage space

What’s the 3rd row like in a Kia Sorento?

But if you’re carrying people in the third row, you can slide them forward slightly to allow more legroom for seats six and seven. Getting in and out of those seats is a bit of a mission, so try not to relegate Grandma to the back seats.

You can fit adults in the third row, but they won’t be able to be too tall. Kids, though, will be fine, which again, is the target market for the Sorento.

Here’s the deal

Sure, a Kia Sorento isn’t the kind of crossover that’s going to get your heart racing. But you won’t shrink if someone sees you in one, and it’s definitely not boring.

If you’re carrying seven people all the time then you’re probably better off with a people-mover like the Kia Carnival.

But if it’s a crossover that you want and you need the option for six or seven passengers occasionally, then the Sorento is worth checking out.

The Sorento offers heaps of room for the same price as some compact SUVs like Mazda’s CX-5, for example. In dollars per cubic foot terms, the Sorento can’t be beat.

About Karl Peskett 431 Articles
A passionate writer, editor and driver, Karl is the go-to man when it comes to four wheels. With stints in television, radio, print and online, Karl has been writing about cars for more than a decade. He drives around 100 vehicles every year and has tested everything from Bugattis to Suzukis. Sometimes on track, sometimes off-road, his focus is on producing objective journalism without fear or favour.

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