2021 Kia Sorento GT-Line review: goodbye

  • Doors and seats
  • Motor
  • Engine power
  • Fuel
  • Producer
  • transmission
  • Warranty
  • Ancap Security

After three months in Drive.com.au garage, did the Kia Sorento GT-Line pass the Australian family test? Glenn Butler reports it.

  • Room for real families
  • Strong Active Safety List
  • Good value proposition and guarantee
  • High boot load height
  • No roller shutters in the cheaper variants

Thanks to my recent and rapidly growing family, I feel like I’ve gotten more than my fair share of Melbourne-based seven-seater car reviews in the past six months at Drive.com.au.

Don’t tell the boss, but that’s absolutely fine by me, as long as I don’t miss the weird cheeky sports car too. And so far I haven’t, like my recent road trip in the delightful Aston Martin Vantage Roadster testifies.

Firstly, it was a long-term Kia Sorento test car. Then came the week-long tests with the Honda Odyssey and the Hyundai Palisade, followed by the Hyundai Staria and the Toyota Prado. As of this writing, there is another Sorento parked in my driveway, this time it’s the new PHEV. I’ll be back today and pick up a new seven-seater Mitsubishi Outlander. In three days I will collect yet another Sorento, the sport + variant that we have not reviewed, which I bring to Sydney (with my family) for Drive the car of the year test in a few weeks.

In this regard, if anyone has any advice on how to pack a double and two single pram, two portable cribs, a portable changing table, three weeks of diapers (for two), two baby seats, and all clothes and other life requirements for four inside an SUV, I can’t wait to hear them. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing Luggage Tetris, but this may be my hardest game to date.

Please also submit any suggestions on how to keep a 16 month old and a three month old baby happy while stuck in car seats for hours.

2021 Kia Sorento GT-Line AWD
Motor 2.2-liter four-cylinder turbo diesel
Power and torque 148kW at 3800rpm, 440Nm at 1750-2750rpm
transmission Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic
Driving type Four-wheel drive
Notch weight 1908 kg
Boot volume 187L in the third row, 616L in the second row
Turning circle 11.6 m
ANCAP safety classification Five stars, tested in August 2020
Warranty Seven years / unlimited km
Towing power braked, not braked 2000kg, 750kg
Length Width Height 4810 mm, 1900 mm, 1700 mm
Main competitors hyundai palisade, Mazda CX-8, Toyota Kluger

For this trip, I specifically requested the Kia Sorento, although there are newer vehicles out there. I needed a car big enough to take us all to Sydney and back comfortably, but not big enough to intimidate my wife to drive once we get to Sydney.

While we’re in Sydney, I’ll be going to the office for a week and then judging the car of the year for the second week, but my wife needs to be able to get around the guys safely and confidently during that time.

Rachel isn’t afraid of big cars. But the traffic lanes on many of Sydney’s streets are narrower than Melbourne and there is more traffic. Car parking is often even tighter, so it’s not always easy to find a spot with room to open the tailgate and unload a 12kg double wheelchair. And driving on unfamiliar roads adds to the stress, not to mention two children screaming at the top of their lungs.

So, we need a big car that can carry a big load of cars and that drives like a big car on the freeway, but looks like a smaller car in the city. Easy, right?

This set of conflicting criteria excluded the length of five meters hyundai palisade and 5.25 m long Hyundai Staria, both of which would have swallowed the tribe and all its baggage with relative ease. The Staria was also scrapped because I have a long term coming up in the next few months so I didn’t want to double down.

The challenge of loading and unloading our children from car seats thrown on the ground Toyota LandCruiser Prado, which is a rather tall vehicle due to its off-road design. It’s a shame as the Prado is a ridiculously comfortable long-distance tourer and has a more spacious rear seat, which makes it easier to install and tighten the child seat straps. But the trunk space is compromised by a third row that doesn’t fold properly and wheel arches that affect the load width. Oh, and the barn door needs a lot of swing room.

The Honda Odyssey it would pass all those practicality and handling tests, but its committed suspension and lackluster 2.2-liter engine, I believe, would fail the long-distance touring test. So don’t go there either.

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I considered a Toyota Kluger, but at 4.97 it’s almost as long as a Hyundai Palisade and 16cm longer than the Sorento. Also, I haven’t tested one in the past 12 months, so I wanted to stick to something I know.

Last time we took this trip, Ford lent me an Everest 4WD, which I really enjoyed on the open road. But, like the Prado, its off-road riding height would be too much for my average-height wife – 161cm – to lift 13kg Arlo who loves her food … Except broccoli.

The only car I’ve overlooked – until now as I write this, which is too late for us to leave in two days – is the Mazda CX-8. It seems to hit the sweet spot I’m aiming for: good cargo space, not too large footprint, good travel credentials. It is 90mm longer than the Sorento, but 60mm narrower, which may have been a problem with our double wheelchair. Maybe he can make the trip next year.

No, if my three months in our long-term Sorento GT-Line has taught me anything, it’s that the Sorento is the right car for our needs. The turbo diesel engine e eight-speed transmission we will easily eat away and be incredibly comfortable inside the quiet cabin. The front seats have support in all the right areas and there are plenty of stowage options for the inevitable McDonald’s to go.

The in-car infotainment system will do justice to everything we stream from Spotify – and it won’t baby shark – and the 360-degree cameras will make Rachel’s Sydney drive a little less stressful.

I can’t wait to see how low I can get the fuel consumption from Sorento’s 2.2-liter turbodiesel. Kia claims 6.1 l / 100km for the combined cycle, but the best I’ve done so far was 7.5L / 100 km. For that challenge, I will have nearly 900km of Hume Highway at my mercy. If you’re curious to see how I fared, check out my Kia Sorento Sport + review (released December 2021).

The Sorento is not perfect. For example, the trunk floor is not low for carrying people, so it takes a while to get in and out with the double stroller. And the Sport + doesn’t have the GT-Line’s retractable shutters to keep the sun away from kids on long journeys or the wireless charging pad.

No car is perfect, after all, but unless the Sorento crashes massively on our family trip to Sydney, it proved to me in three months and many thousands of miles that it ticks many of the important boxes for families. Australian like mine.

Breakdown of evaluations

2021 Kia Sorento GT-Line Wagon

8.3/ 10

Interior comfort and packaging

Infotainment and connectivity

Glenn Butler is one of Australia’s best-known automotive journalists who has spent the past 25 years talking about cars on radio, TV, the web and print. He is a former editor of Wheels, Australia’s most respected automotive magazine, and was Deputy Editor of Drive.com.au prior to this. Glenn has also worked at the executive level for two of Australia’s largest carmakers, so he understands how much care and consideration goes into the design and development of new cars. As a journalist, he has driven everything from Ferraris to Fiats on every continent except Antarctica (which he hopes to one day reach) and loves to discover the unique personality and strengths of each car. Glenn knows that the price of a car is not indicative of its competence, and even the cheapest car can improve your life and expand your horizons.

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