Kia's four-pot petrol Sorento
Few suburban users of Crossovers and SUVs will notice that the latest version of Kia's Sorento has 4WD. The new and very competitively priced starter model launched this month in New Zealand has a fuel-efficient petrol four-cylinder engine driving through a six-speed sequential automatic transmission and seven seats, which are probably more important to the school drop-off and pickup brigade who use the car as a family and people-mover at weekends.
The Sorento 2.4 LX AWD goes on sale for just $49,490 - quite a long way under people-movers and SUVs with as many seats from Hyundai, Mazda and Toyota.
The success of the petrol- powered Sportage SUVs provided Kia Motors NZ with the inspiration to look at a similar entry-level petrol model for the larger Sorento, which has only been available with the 2.2-litre R-series diesel engine until now.
There are buyers who prefer petrol because then they do not have to worry about Road User Charges and the higher purchase cost which is what makes the new Sorento variant a good alternative to traditional people carriers. That's the opinion of Todd McDonald, Kia Motors general manager in New Zealand: "Sales of Sorento have continued to rise since we launched the all-new range at the beginning of last year and our recent decision to fit seven seats to every model has only added to its appeal. So the introduction of an all-wheel-drive petrol model with seven seats at a highly competitive price made perfect sense."
The new Sorento four features a revised 2.4-litre Theta II petrol engine, with upgraded electronics and low-friction components to help deliver more power, improved durability, enhanced refinement, reduced fuel consumption and lower emissions.
The four-cylinder power plant utilises dual CVVT (continuously variable valve timing) technology for both the intake and exhaust valves, four valves per cylinder and features weight-saving, all- aluminium construction with a cast-aluminium block, cylinder head and sump. The engine delivers 130kW at 6000rpm and 227Nm at 3750rpm. The six-speed auto transmission is the same as used on the rest of the Sorento range, with the facility for drivers to manually shift gears if they wish, or just leave it to change automatically.
The Sorento 2.4 LX AWD may be the entry level model, but it has a relatively high level of specification and equipment, such as the dual-zone climate control, a steering wheel rim with a leather wrap that incorporates audio, bluetooth and cruise control.
It also has a height-adjustable driver's seat, heated/folding/ power door mirrors, remote central locking, power windows, trip computer, chrome door handles, front fog lights, reverse warning sensors, rear cargo blind and interior mood lighting.
With a Euro NCAP five-star rating, the Sorento packs Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), incorporating ABS anti- lock brakes and traction control, plus Rollover Sensors, along with dual front, side and curtain airbags and active front seat headrests.