- Feature-packed across the range
- Genuinely spacious interior in all rows
- Excellent ride and handling
- Lower models are better value
- Not cheap to service
- 2.5-litre turbo petrol not offered here
The Kia Sorento has long been the backbone of the booming South Korean car marker. Launched in 2002, the Sorento was the brand’s first large SUV and until the even larger Palisade came along in 2020, it was the largest car the company sold globally. The third generation car was excellent in most areas and humble to boot – but Kia knew it needed an extra dose of style and luxury to compete in the large SUV segment. Enter the 2020 Kia Sorento GT-Line.
The GT-Line sits atop the local 2020 Kia Sorento range, and is priced from $65,290 drive away – though you can get into the entry-level Sorento S for around $15,000 less. All Sorento models use a 148kW/440Nm 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine in Australia, though a 200kW/332Nm 3.5-litre petrol V6 is being added soon and a 169kW 1.6-litre turbo hybrid is due to launch in the first half of 2021.
Price & Specs: 9/10
Sitting atop the local 2020 Kia Sorento range, the GT-Line we tested is absolutely loaded to the gills with standard equipment. Highlights include all-LED lighting (including the indicators and fog lights), 20-inch alloy wheels, auto lights and wipers, keyless entry and start with a kick-to-open electric tailgate, Nappa leather upholstery with powered (with driver’s memory functionality), heated and cooled front seats with a heated second row, dual-zone climate control, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with inbuilt nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio, a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display, a 12-speaker Bose sound system, privacy glass, a huge panoramic sunroof, a heated steering wheel, eight USB charging ports, wireless phone charging in the front and switchable interior mood lighting.
Standard safety equipment is strong too with eight airbags (including a front centre unit), low- and high-speed auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian, cyclist and junction assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, lane departure warning with lane follow assist, blind-spot monitoring with a lane change camera, rear cross-traffic alert, rear auto braking, driver attention monitoring, safe exit assist, auto high beam, front and rear parking sensors and on the GT-Line, a 360-degree parking camera.
The 2020 Kia Sorento GT-Line is not cheap, but it really lacks for nothing – it’s got almost everything we can think of. But we think better value is found lower in the range, specifically the $53,290 drive away Sport, which still has the majority of the same safety kit as the GT-Line, as well as smaller 18-inch wheels, tasteful cloth trim, a powered driver’s seat and the same impressive 10.25-inch centre touchscreen with inbuilt satellite navigation as the GT-Line.
Competitors to the Sorento are found far and wide: the Mazda CX-9, the Skoda Kodiaq, Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace and the Hyundai Santa Fe (which shares the Kia’s platform) are the big ones and there’s a new generation Toyota Kluger landing in 2021 too. The CX-9 is petrol-only, while the Tiguan and Kodiaq can be had with different engines to suit different budgets – the Santa Fe uses the same petrol V6 and four-cylinder diesel as the Sorento and it too is getting a hybrid drivetrain in 2021.
Performance & Fuel Economy: 8/10
For now, the sole engine option in the 2020 Kia Sorento is a 148kW/440Nm 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine that’s matched to a standard reactive all-wheel drive system and a new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission – the 3.5-litre petrol V6 lands soon, while the 1.6-litre turbo petrol hybrid arrives in 2021.
While diesel isn’t everybody’s favourite fuel at the moment, we think it’s an excellent choice in the Sorento. The engine itself is quiet, it’s punchy and yet it’s also efficient – Kia claims just 6.1L/100km on a combined cycle and we got around 8L/100km in purely urban driving, which is excellent and far less than the turbo petrol in our testing of the Mazda CX-9. Producing a reasonable 148kW of power and 440Nm of torque, the engine is relatively strong and is a good partner with the Sorento – it’s also been made a lot quieter than in the previous Sorento too. Some extra puff at highway overtaking speeds would be nice, though.
While the engine is a carryover unit from the old model, there’s a new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic that’s standard across the diesel range. While it can occasionally be a bit indecisive at lower speeds, it’s otherwise an excellent transmission that really doesn’t feel like a DCT most of the time. It shifts quickly and unlike some Volkswagen Group transmissions, it doesn’t shift into the highest gear possible to then end up struggling from doing so.
We would like Kia to offer the new 2.5-litre turbo petrol unit that’s just gone on sale in North America. Producing 210kW of power and 420Nm of torque, the new engine has launched locally in the new genesis GV80 and we’d like to see if offered in the Sorento as it’s not only more efficient than the old V6 petrol engine, but also much torquier and available with all-wheel drive – the US model also gets a handsome dark green colour and tan leather as well, are you listening Kia Australia?
Ride & Handling: 9/10
As is the case with a lot of Hyundai Kia products locally – and the last generation model – the local tuning program has produced a winner with the 2020 Kia Sorento GT-Line. Put simply, we think it offers the best mix of comfort and driving fun in this segment. It’s definitely not as sporty as the Skoda Kodiaq RS but its dampers are taut and it’s beautifully damped despite having huge 20-inch wheels – let alone the smaller 17s or 18s in the Sorento range.
The Sorento’s steering can be a touch heavy at low speeds but it lightens up nicely, while still offering reasonable feel. All-round visibility is pretty great as well, and the 360-degree parking camera is genuinely excellent too. One unique feature to the Sorento is what Kia calls ‘Remote Start Park Assist’ which means that the car can be moved slowly forwards and backwards in a straight line via the key. Why would somebody need that? Well it’s pretty handy in tight parking spots getting to the boot and what not.
Interior & Practicality: 9/10
For lack of words, we think that the 2020 Kia Sorento GT-Line’s interior is best in class. It doesn’t have quite the same luxurious feel as the Mazda CX-9 Azami, but it does feel more modern and it’s also more practical as well with more storage space and room for passengers – particularly in the third row of seating. It’s got a lot of detail touches that really add to the experience – the subtle mood lighting has multiple colour options, there are USB ports everywhere (even on the back of the front seats) to charge devices and there are even mood settings such as a fire place to warm you up on a winter’s night. There’s an excellent level of attention to detail with the 2021 Kia Sorento GT-Line.
Centre of the cabin is the brand’s new 10.25-inch touchscreen complete with inbuilt nav with traffic, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and digital radio. It’s also got an excellent 360-degree parking camera and the screen quality is excellent – there’s also a crisp 12.3-inch digital driver’s display that (among many other features) displays the view from the blind-spot camera when indicating. The colour heads-up display is excellent, and the 12-speaker Bose sound system is pretty good as well – way better than the Infinity-branded systems used in sister brand Hyundai!
The storage in the Sorento’s cabin is excellent with large cupholders, a wireless phone charger, a large centre bin under the armrest, huge door bins in both the front and middle rows and even the map pockets on the back of the front seats are large. Really our only complaint is the rotary dial transmission selector, which feels a bit vague in use – the North American-spec Sorento gets a proper gear lever, which we’d like to see used locally.
The materials used in the cabin aren’t quite as top notch as the Mazda CX-9, but they’re still pretty high quality – soft touch plastics cover the tops of the dashboard and doors, while the leather quality is excellent, especially in the case of the GT-Line’s Nappa upholstery with tasteful white piping. The seats themselves provide all-day comfort in the first and second rows, and they’re also heated/cooled in the front, and heated in the middle.
Space in the third row is not plentiful, but it’s better than in the larger Mazda CX-9 and just better than the smaller Skoda Kodiaq – my six-foot self just fits. But unlike the Mazda and Skoda, there are air vents in the third row with a fan speed controller, as well as USB ports and cupholders. Bootspace with the third row erect is a claimed 187-litres – fold them down and you get a pretty spacious 616L and 2,011L is opened up with the middle row folded as well.
Importantly, Kia has shown attention to Australia as when the 60/40-split middle row is moved forward, the easy access side is located on the same side as the kerb, which makes it easier for kids to use.
Service & Warranty: 8/10
Like every other new Kia product locally, the 2020 Kia Sorento GT-Line is equipped with the brand’s seven-year/unlimited km warranty with one year of roadside assistance topped up with each scheduled service for a year up to eight in total.
Over five years/75,000km of servicing, the Sorento costs $2,393 – that’s an average of $478 per service, which isn’t cheap. The Mazda CX-9 serviced to the same time period equals $2,202 ($440 per service) – though it has shorter 10,000km intervals, which means you’ll be paying more if you do more km. The Skoda Kodiaq RS costs $2,549 ($509 per service) to service over five years/75,000km, though Skoda offers a pre-paid service plan for $1,700 at the time of purchase.
The DiscoverAuto 2020 Kia Sorento GT-Line Rating: 8.6/10
The last generation of Kia Sorento was an excellent car in most respects, but it needed just a touch more identity in the strongly contested large SUV segment. With the 2020 Kia Sorento GT-Line, not only has Kia added more identity with a very handsome exterior, but also a nicely luxurious interior with a lot more standard technology.
We’re big fans of the new Sorento. Everything from its design, to its features, use of tech and even ride and handling has been well thought out and it shows a level of detail not present in a lot of rivals. Our complaints are few: the GT-Line is great, but better value exists lower in the range and instead of the old petrol V6, we’d like to see the new 2.5-litre turbo petrol offered locally. Aside from that, it’s a genuinely excellent car – one that you must consider when buying a large SUV.