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REVIEW: 2016 Kia Sorento... a consumer perspective

I've been a Kia ambassador for about 6 years, which gives me a unique opportunity to test their cars, not just for a day, but long-term. I've had various models over the years, but have spent most of my time driving their big SUV, the Sorento. In fact, I'm now driving my 4th one...

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My 2010 model was a very practical utility vehicle, but was quite empty inside without any gizmos whatsoever. The 2013/14 version was a major upgrade, adding nice things like a rear-view camera, programmable seat positions and retractable side mirrors.

But, this 2016 Sorento is more than just a small upgrade. Kia have taken it to the next level. I'm not going to give a technical review (because any car website will have that for you). This is just my consumer perspective.

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It's mind blowingly superior in every aspect of the re-design. Peter Shreyer (the ex-Audi designer) really knows his stuff. The vehicle has more of a presence with it's new nose and grille and the whole car is fractionally longer and lower than it's predecessor. It has chrome trim that adds to its look with doors that feel quite plush when you open and close them and it's panoramic sunroof seems to open up the sky.

But it's the smaller things inside that have changed significantly in this model, compared to it's predecessor:

Driving mode can be set to eco, normal or sport (each one chaning the steering wheel freeplay and the rev settings)

Blind spot warning and lane change assist - with an audible alarm and a light on your side mirror to alert you if you if a vehicle is too close to you if you are considering a lane change

RDS. Normal for so many cars, but for a long time Kia's never had this. Now they do.

Plenty of USB and 12v chargers for front and rear passengers. In the previous model the USB connector never pushed out enough amps to charge my phone if I was using the battery-intensive navigation app. This is no more, and it juices up my phone quite quickly (while playing my music and using my WAZE navigation app).

Side mirrors automatically retract on locking the vehicle (on the previous model you had to push the button on the remote twice for it to happen).

The boot is bigger, with the rear seats that now collapse with the simple pull of a lever. It also has an automatic tailgate. If you have your key in your pocket and stand behind your boot, it will let out a signal and then 3 seconds later (if you remain there) automatically open your boot without you using a single button.

Gone is the old foot-pedal hand brake. It is replaced with a neat electronic button.
It's a collapsable 7 seater, and they have made the fold-back on the middle seat (to gain entry to the rear seats) easier with a smoother mechanism.

Daytime running lights. The previous versions only came on if you switched your headlights on (a bit daft). These now come on the way they should.. by themselves during the day!

    Sure, you can get this luxury in many different vehicles, but there's a good chance you'll be paying a few hundred thousand rand more for the same level of quality. The price ranges from about R380 000 to the top spec version I'm driving (2.2 CRDi SX AWD) at about R640 000.

    It is without a doubt, the best Kia I have ever driven. Now, it's your turn for a test drive...!

    Mark is a long standing ambassador for Kia Motors SA. This blog is not a requirement of his ambassadorial role, but was written of his own volition.

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