Cars > Driven

Kia Sorento EX 4x4: This crossover’s all grown-up

A vastly different animal compared to its predecessors

The third-gen Kia Sorento is a crossover that oozes sophistication. PHOTO BY RED SANTIAGO

Growing up is such an experience. As youngsters, we had the time of our lives from nonstop playing on the street. We struggled during our awkward teenage years, trying to find our true selves. But we eventually matured and had a better understanding of who we really are, all those hardships (if you could call it that) weren’t for naught. For some reason, I felt these thoughts somehow summed up my experience with the Kia Sorento.

The styling does not look out of place at a high-end mall or a five-star hotel. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

The third-generation Sorento has tremendously grown up, and I’m not just talking about its physical dimensions. The front end’s cleaner, smoother curves may be a bit underwhelming compared to more chiseled rivals, but I like the car’s stately looks. Those swooping lines continue to adorn the vehicle’s sides and rear end. While the multi-element LED headlights have more than enough power for even the darkest of nights, my eyes are somehow drawn toward the distinctive styling of the rear combination lamps. This timeless design is something that should age well. This Sorento’s generation is already nearing the end of its life cycle, but it still is arguably a looker.

Inside, it’s the same story. The interior may not have a convoluted set of switchgear, but this simplicity adds to the Sorento’s charm. And because of that, I wouldn’t mind getting stuck in traffic inside this crossover for everything in it looks and feels good. The Apple CarPlay- and Android Auto-capable infotainment system is responsive and a joy to use. The dual-zone climate control system effectively cools the entire cabin. There’s enough room for seven people (including my porky girth), making it the perfect family hauler.

The author was pleased to know that the Sorento had Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

Doing duty under the Sorento’s hood is the same powerful and torquey 2.2-liter turbodiesel from the last generation, tweaked for better straight-line performance. The eight-speed automatic transmission maximizes the power band of the engine. It is responsive yet fuel efficient. In the city, the Sorento does 9km/L. Get it up to highway cruising speeds and this thing can just about kiss 20km/L. And take it on the highway, I did, because I needed an excuse to use cruise control and get away from Metro Manila’s congested streets. It has most of the electronic nannies you’d need, though I wish it had other safety features like lane-keep assist and blind-spot monitoring, among others.

The third-row seat can actually fit adults including very healthy writer. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

The Sorento’s suspension may be tuned for comfort, but it doesn’t behave like a pleasure yacht. I felt like I was driving a smaller vehicle, which I couldn’t get my head around at first until I went to my regular car-wash place. There, I found out that the Sorento’s overall height is slightly lower than that of the Toyota Rush parked beside. Because of this, the center of gravity is lower, and this made the crossover nimbler and easier to drive. I enjoyed my time with the car, doing some spirited sprints just to fiddle with the manual override function of the automatic gearbox.

The Sorento offers an amazingly comfortable and serene ride. However, wind and tire noise does creep in and can get annoying once you’re past 80km/h. Also, the absence of some active safety features is a bit of a disappointment, considering the car retails for P2.195 million. Finally, the front and back parking sensors seem to switch off by themselves when you reach a certain speed, which can be a little bit irritating.

The compact 2.2-liter turbodiesel mill is more than capable of hauling ass thanks to 197hp. PHOTO BY RED SANTIAGO

It’s amazing what a few years and two generations can do to a once utilitarian ladder frame-based SUV. Despite its flaws, what we have now is a refined, stylish, and feature-packed crossover. The Sorento has significantly grown and matured, and is well and truly capable of slugging it out with the heavyweights of its segment. I’m sure this thing can give its competitors a run for their money.


Engine2.2-liter four-cylinder turbo diesel
Transmission8-speed automatic
Power197hp @ 3,800rpm
Torque441Nm @ 1,750-2,750rpm
Dimensions4,800mm x 1,890mm x 1,685mm
Drive layoutAWD
UpsideModern design, ride comfort, and passenger seating space.
DownsideThere is a fourth-generation Sorento.

Red Santiago

A jack of all trades, Red is passionate about cars, motorcycles and audio. He sometimes drives for a ride-hailing app company—just because he really loves driving.