Filipinos have an unspoken romantic relationship with the SUV. It speaks to our flamboyant, family-centric culture—flashy, has a large capacity able to seat seven with room to spare for pasalubong, and not bad in a bit of flooding. And much like the balangay, the communal boat from which the term barangay is derived, the SUV offers comfort on journeys to faraway lands. The Kia Sorento is one such vehicle.
The Sorento’s exterior sports bold lines and subtle curves. The sides and the rear look clean and smart—maybe a little too clean. The safe, same-y style choices, however, lose out to the devilishly handsome face, with large headlamps tapering towards the three-dimensional diamond grille, complemented by large, imposing fog lamps, all bordered by chrome accents. The modern, urban look is completed by 18-inch alloy rims and a panoramic sunroof.
The SUV’s profile is designed to have a lower drag coefficient, and apparently the trade-off is lower headroom which, as person only slightly taller than the average Filipino, I found myself almost crouching just to get in the driver’s seat.
What the Sorento lacks vertically, however, is made up in girth, as it were. This was one of the few SUVs I’ve been on that could actually fit seven and not just five plus two tiny children. It was a smart decision for the manufacturer to have pullout seats from the boot bed rather than foldout ones. There is just more legroom to be shared amongst the three rows that way.
The interior is a mix of leather, chrome, and wood grain laminate accents that run throughout the whole vehicle including the steering wheel, giving a luxurious feel to the vehicle. Cup holders are abundant, with one on each side of each row as well as two on the center console, next to the gear shift; no pullout ones, however.
User Experience: 4.0/5.0
In everyday use, the Sorento is a very comfortable drive whether in the city or out of town. Thanks to a powerful engine, and all-wheel drive, I never had to worry about losing push or pull even in steep inclines and sharp turns.
Picking up speed even on a full load—seven passengers plus cargo—is not a challenge for this SUV, and when I need to slow down or come to a complete halt, the brake response is superb. Very smooth.
Speaking of smooth, bumps on the road felt like soft slopes due to the excellent suspension which passengers have particularly noted and appreciated. The car is perfect for the disappointingly unmaintained roads of Metro Manila.
The handling is great both on dry and damp conditions, and the steering is fairly accurate. However, the electric power steering could do with more feel, as the wheel seemed tightened to give it more resistance, but all it did was increase the likelihood of over and under steering rather than improving the tactility when turning, or keeping the car steady for that matter.
In terms of fuel efficiency, the Sorento is on the efficient side of average with the trip data showing results which bounce between seven and nine kilometers on the liter depending on the conditions.
Creature comforts felt a bit lacking particularly in the entertainment portion. One would expect touch and navigation at this price point, but I had to work with a tiny display and underwhelming speakers. Kia sort of makes up for it, however, with full air-conditioner coverage, very comfy seats, and a large panoramic sun roof. And to be honest, kids will enjoy just looking out of that large roof window for most of the trip.
Priced at around PHP 2.3 million, the Kia Sorento is in the ballpark of other more premium Asian SUV models. You’ll find very little to complain about with the kind of car you’re getting for this reasonable price point.
– Comfortable ride
– Actually a seven-seater
– Could do with an entertainment upgrade
The Sorento is the quintessential Filipino family car: spacious, comfortable, with plenty of A/C vents to fight over and a very handsome profile.
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE July 2017
Reviewed and Photos by Robby Vaflor