2024 Kia Sorento S Diesel AWD Review
Price & Equipment: 7.5
Performance & Economy: 8.5
Ride & Handling: 9
Interior & Practicality: 8
Service & Warranty: 9
What we like:
  • A great all-rounder, even in base spec
  • Lovely ride and handling balance
  • Efficient and refined turbo-diesel is easily the Sorento drivetrain to have
What we don't like:
  • Too much equipment limited to upper-spec models
  • Dual-clutch transmission isn't perfect
  • Third row of seats only for kids
8.4DiscoverAuto Rating:

Definitely one of the centre pieces to Kia’s rise in the automotive world, the Sorento is one of our favourite large SUVs on the new car market. It’s a great all-rounder, offering plenty of space, technology, a pretty good driving experience and good value for money, and it’s no wonder that – depending on the model chosen – there is still a healthy waitlist for buyers. Kia recently gave the Sorento a mid-life update and here, we’re testing it in entry-level S form with the optional diesel engine. Is the 2024 Kia Sorento S Diesel AWD the seven-seat large SUV to buy? Let’s find out.

Launched only recently, the mid-life update for the Sorento was largely cosmetic. There’s an entirely new front end design with Kia’s latest design language – including similar headlights to the Picanto light car – as well as revised taillights, new wheel designs and new bumpers. Inside, there’s a whole new infotainment system, new screens and more technology.

How much does the 2024 Kia Sorento cost to buy?

The 2024 Kia Sorento S is the entry into the current Sorento range. Kicking off at $50,680 plus on road costs for the petrol model and $53,300 plus on-road costs (or $57,100 drive away, depending on location) to get into the diesel model tested here. There are more Sorento models on offer such as the Sport, Sport+ and GT-Line that all sit higher in the range.

Sorento S standard equipment:

  • 17-inch alloy wheels with a full-size spare wheel
  • Automatic dusk-sensing LED headlights
  • LED daytime running lights, LED front and rear fog lights
  • Automatic rain-sensing wipers
  • Roof rails
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • Synthetic leather steering wheel with paddle shifters
  • Cloth seat upholstery
  • 6-way manually adjustable driver’s seat
  • Manual single-zone air-conditioning with second-row air vents
  • 12.3-inch touchscreen
  • Wireless and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • AM/FM/DAB+ digital radio
  • 4.2-inch driver’s display
  • ‘Kia Connect’ connected car services, including remote start, geo-fencing, vehicle location, etc
  • Auto-folding mirrors
  • 2x USB-C ports, 1x 12V socket (front seat only)
  • Seven-speaker sound system
  • Alarm
  • Eco, smart, sport and normal driving modes
  • Snow, mud and sand terrain modes

Sorento S standard safety equipment:

  • Eight airbags (including a front centre unit)
  • Auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian, cyclist and intersection assistance
  • Lane keeping assist with lane departure warning
  • Adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality
  • Auto high beam
  • Driver attention alert
  • Intelligent speed limit assist
  • Safe exit warning
  • Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert (both with braking)
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Reversing camera
  • Tyre pressure monitoring

The Sorento range received a five-star ANCAP rating in 2020 with scores of 82 per cent for adult protection, 85 per cent for child protection, 63 per cent for vulnerable road user protection and 89 per cent for safety assist.

Sorento S colour range:

  • Clear White: $0
  • Aurora Black: $695
  • Gravity Blue: $695
  • Mineral Blue: $695
  • Volcanic Sand Brown: $695
  • Cityscape Green: $695
  • Steel Grey: $695
  • Snow White Pearl: $695
  • Silky Silver: $695 (fitted to our test car)

We consider the Mazda CX-8 D35 Sport ($49,810 plus on-road costs or around $55,000 drive away) to be the Sorento S Diesel AWD’s main competitor. Like the Sorento, the CX-8 features an efficient four-cylinder diesel engine with an all-wheel drive system, while in Sport spec it’s fairly evenly equipped as well, though priced just over $2,000 less.

Over the Sorento, the CX-8 Sport adds inbuilt satellite navigation, tri-zone automatic climate control, airbag coverage for the third row, reverse automatic braking and a larger 7.0-inch digital driver’s information display. But the Sorento adds more range for its AEB system, keyless entry, lane trace assist, safe exit assist, a centre airbag, live services and front and rear fog lights. If it were our money, we’re not sure we’d spend the extra money on the Kia and we think it should feature third row air vents and second row charging ports to sweeten its value equation.

How efficient/powerful is the 2024 Kia Sorento?

The standard engine in the 2024 Kia Sorento range is a 200kW 3.5-litre petrol V6 that drives the front wheels, but our test car was fitted with the optional 2.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine that produces 148kW of power (at 3,800rpm) and 440Nm of torque (between 1,750rpm and 2,750rpm). Power is sent to an all-wheel drive system through an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Mechanically, the 2024 Kia Sorento S was unchanged compared to the pre-facelifted model, but that’s not a bad thing because the engine is nicely refined and is grunty as well, with peak torque hitting from just 1,750rpm. Of course, it’s no performance engine and the 200kW/332Nm 3.5-litre V6 that’s the standard engine option will run rings around it for speediness, but the diesel is more refined, and is a better all-rounder in our opinion.

The only transmission available on the Sorento diesel is an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and in our opinion, it’s the only weak part of the drivetrain. At speed, it shifts smoothly and quickly, but at low speeds and when taking off, it stumbles and becomes annoyingly indecisive. Those traits are nothing new of dual-clutch transmissions and we wish the excellent eight-speed torque converter auto in the petrol V6 Sorento featured in the diesel to make it smoother. Regardless of engine or model chosen, the Sorento’s braked towing capacity is 2,000kg.

The big reason to choose the Sorento diesel over the V6 is fuel efficiency. While the V6 is old and thirsty – its claim is 9.8L/100km but you’ll likely see almost double that around town – the four-cylinder diesel is much newer and much more efficient at a claimed 6.0L/100km on the combined cycle with claimed emissions of 158g/km, which are pretty good numbers for such a large non-hybrid car. In our mostly-urban testing, we achieved 7.8L/100km, which isn’t far off the urban claim. Helping the Sorento’s range is a big 67-litre tank meaning that highway journeys will give more than 1,200km from a tank.

What is the 2024 Kia Sorento like to drive?

As we saw with the pre-facelifted Sorento, the 2024 Kia Sorento S rides and handles really nicely, especially in this base S with its small 17-inch wheels and chubby tyres. Consistent with Kia’s local tuning efforts, there’s a really good balance between comfort and fun in the way that the Sorento drives. Quite simply, it goes about its business exceptionally well, particularly on country roads with big undulations and complicated road surface changes where a floaty ride can be ponderous and almost dangerous. The Sorento S feels planted all the time, and it’s also quite confident in its driving experience.

While the Sorento S isn’t a sports car, it can be reasonably fun to drive thanks to a good chassis and lovely steering that displays good weighting and feel. A back road can be a surprisingly fun time in the Sorento, but that’s no surprise given how well the current shape model drives. Its road noise levels are reasonably subdued, while visibility is also good as well. As for active safety equipment, the Sorento’s systems are well tuned and although the active speed warning system has been improved with a lower volume, it’s still not great and can be annoying. We’d love a permanent switch off button please, Kia. Visibility is a little hampered rearwards, but luckily the Sorento’s rear camera is fantastically clear, even if we do wish it had a 360 degree camera system to help with parking in tight spots.

How practical is the 2024 Kia Sorento?

The interior of the 2024 Kia Sorento has been improved compared to the pre-facelifted model thanks to the addition of new screens, new technology and a more cohesive dashboard layout. Being a mid-life facelift, the changes aren’t huge, but further cement just how practical and well thought out the current generation Sorento’s cabin is. In base S form, the Sorento’s cabin is a dark affair, with little in the way of colour or even textures, but the quality is good and everything feels good to touch. Having said that, a CX-8 Sport’s meterials feel just a bit more premium throughout.

Centre of the facelifted Sorento’s cabin – and its biggest tech upgrade compared to the small 8.0-inch screen in the pre-updated model – is a new 12.3-inch touchscreen that connects seamlessly to the digital driver’s display. It features Kia’s latest infotainment software and is much smoother and the screen quality is greater than before. It also features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, which worked quite well in our time with it. The seven-speaker sound system is decent, and even an average, non branded Kia sound system is significantly better than it was even a few years ago.

Storage in the base Sorento is excellent, with big central cup holders, a big tray underneath the centre console, a huge bin underneath the central armrest, big door pockets and a big box underneath the centre armrest.

The second row of the Sorento S is spacious and comfortable, though a bit light on features. Space on offer for six-footers is ample, while a third adult will fit without much trouble. For child seats, there are three top-tether points and two ISOFIX points too. The seats themselves are also reasonably sculpted for good comfort as well, though occupants won’t find many features to amuse themselves on road trips: in the base S, there are air vents, a 12V socket, bottle holders in the doors, a centre armrest with cup holders, two map pockets and door pockets, but the USB ports, sun blinds, heated seats of upper-spec Sorento models don’t feature.

The third row of seating in the Sorento is best described as a kids-only zone – more so than the CX-8 – as it’s light on both features and space – there are cup holders and a light storage tray, but that’s it. Also, annoyingly, airbag coverage doesn’t extend to the third row and neither do air vents, so that it will get hot there in summer. At least the seats are nicely bolstered, and the middle seat tilts and slides forward at the press of a button. Importantly for some families as well, the third row of seats feature two top-tether points for child seats.

The boot of the Sorento is healthy for its size, with a reasonable 179-litres of space with all rows of seating erect, which opens up to a healthy 608L with the third row folded and a huge 1,996L with the second row folded – that’s in comparison to the 242L/775L third row up/down capacity in the CX-8. The boot also features under-floor storage, buttons to fold the second-row seats, a 12V socket and a few hooks and tie down points, plus, a full-size alloy spare wheel lies underneath.

What warranty covers the 2024 Kia Sorento?

Being a new Kia, the Sorento is covered by a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Roadside assistance is offered for a single year upfront, but at every scheduled service through a Kia dealership, a further 12 months is added for up to eight years in total. Servicing the 2024 Kia Sorento S Diesel occurs every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first, and the cost to service the Sorento over the span of five years or 75,000km is $2,632 ($526.40 per service).

The Mazda CX-8 is covered by a five-year/unlimited km warranty with five years of roadside assistance included. Five years/50,000km of servicing costs $2,440 ($448 per service), which is less expensive than the Sorento, but that’s to 5,000km less annually thanks to the Mazda’s shorter intervals.

Should I buy a 2024 Kia Sorento S Diesel AWD?

As we’ve seen with the Sorento in the past, the 2024 Kia Sorento S Diesel AWD is a really good product and if you’re after a seven-seat SUV, it needs to be on your test drive list. It’s spacious, practical, good quality, mostly well equipped, nice to drive, grunty yet frugal in the case of the diesel engine and still a handsome looking brute (even in base model form). There’s no wonder that there’s still a three-four month wait on new Sorentos because their all-round ability is impressive.

Counting against the Sorento S Diesel AWD is a laggy dual-clutch transmission at lower speeds, a third row of seating that’s small and isn’t protected by airbags or cooled by air vents and that the base model S – even though more equipment got added for it with the update – is still a bit sparse and the $2,620 spend to the next-step-up Sorento Sport is well worth the money. But regardless of which model you choose, the Sorento shines in its segment – just make sure you buy the diesel and not the petrol V6!

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