Usually when I review a car I love it until I see the price tag, which is when I start wishing that manufacturers would offer the car as a bang-for-buck base model without all the extras that are nice to have, but not really necessary (and which push the price up quite drastically!).
Words by Stephen Smith
Kia have done just that, by introducing the Sorento 2.2 LS. I’ve long been a fan of the Sorento, a real alternative to the Toyota Fortuner but with better road manners and comfort levels, and being less of a hijack target. But the Sorento can be pricey, especially with the diesel engine (which is definitely the one you want!).
Where the halo Sorento 2.2 CRDi SXL model is priced at over R730 000, this new LS model costs just R489 995, a saving of almost R250 000 (or over 30%) for essentially the same vehicle. To make the price even more attractive, Kia has thrown in the class-leading 5-year/unlimited km warranty and 5-year/100 000km service plan, as with the rest of the Sorento range.
The LS does without some features, such as automatic air-con (it has manual), an automatic hand brake, a rear-view camera, leather seats, fog lights, blind spot detection and daytime running lights, and where it might lose favour with some potential buyers is the number of seats – the LS is a five-seater, as opposed to the seven seats of some models. But it does have exactly the same engine (2.2-litre turbodiesel, 147kW/440Nm), the same six-speed automatic gearbox, and the same voluminous body that offers very comfortable seating for five as well as a boot of 660-litres. The rear seats have a 60/40 split for folding down, which makes the vehicle even more practical for hauling loads. Fuel consumption, always a major consideration these days, is excellent for a car of its size – we averaged 7,8L/100km.
The previous Sorento I drove was the R730 000 2.2 CRDi SXL, and despite loving it I was troubled by the price tag – if you want people to buy your car instead of a Fortuner, you can’t have that sort of price premium. The new LS model is a far more realistic, sensible vehicle and is priced very closely to a similar Fortuner (the 2.4 GD-6 auto is R474 200). In my mind, it’s the pick of the Sorento range and should be firmly on the short-list of every family in search of a family SUV.
As a final word, I’m not the only fan of the Sorento – it won the people’s vote in the 2015 Middle East Car of the Year competition, and was also voted a finalist in the 2015 WesBank / SAGMJ Car of the Year competition.
Name: Kia Sorento 2.2 LS
Body type: Large SUV
Engine capacity: 2.2-litre turbodiesel
Power output: 147kW
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Price: R489 995