2018 Kia Cerato Sedan Range Review

Cerato sedan

Priced From $20,990Information

Overall Rating


4 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

4 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

4 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

3 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars


4 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProComfortable, pleasant to drive, auto-braking as standard, seven-year warranty

  2. ConLacklustre engine from previous model, worse fuel economy than previous model

  3. The Pick: 2019 KIA Cerato Sport+ 4D Sedan

What stands out?

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The Cerato sedan is Kia’s alternative to the popular Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3 small sedans. It has a stylish cabin, strong infotainment suite, and drives nicely, and all versions feature some kind of autonomous emergency braking and seven-year warranty.

The sedan on sale now is a fourth generation Cerato. It is on sale alongside the older, third-generation, Cerato hatch, which is subject of a separate range review. The all-new, similarly-equipped hatch is expected by early 2019.

What might bug me?

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Wishing Kia had installed a punchier engine than simply carrying over the old 2.0-litre powerplant from the previous model. The new model is 19kg heavier than its predecessor, resulting in reduced economy, from 7.2 litres/100km to 7.4 litres/100km.

What body styles are there?

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Four-door sedan.

The Cerato sedan drives the front wheels, and is classed as a small car, lower priced.

What features do all Cerato sedan versions have?

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An 8.0-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone paring, and Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and music streaming. Six-speaker sound system.

Reversing camera with parking guidelines, and front and rear parking that help you judge how close you are to obstacles.

Autonomous emergency braking that detects, and prevents or mitigates a collision with a vehicle in front of your Cerato.

Cruise control.

Lane keeping assist that helps steer the Cerato within the lines on a highway.

Dusk-sensing headlights, daytime running lights and rear fog lights.

Height and reach adjustment for the steering wheel, and height adjustment for the driver’s seat.

Controls on the steering wheel for the cruise control, the audio system and your phone.

Seatbelt reminders for all five seat positions.

Tyre pressure monitor and space-saving spare wheel and tyre,

Hill-start assist, which controls the brakes automatically to help you start from rest on an uphill slope.

Anti-lock braking system (ABS) and electronic stability control (Esc), which can help control a skid or slide. All new cars must have these features.

Six airbags: two at the front; one on each side to protect front-seat occupants in side crashes; and a curtain airbag down each side to protect heads in a side impact.

The Cerato has a seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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All Cerato sedans use a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre petrol engine that carried over from the previous model. Because the new model is a little heavier it consumes slightly more than the previous model – 7.4 litres/100km (city and country combined) with the six-speed automatic transmission and 7.6L/100km with the six-speed manual. In real-world driving, expect about 9.0 litres/100km on average.

While a little dated, the 2.0-litre is a flexible engine that performs well in the city and cruises comfortably on the highway.

The least costly Cerato sedan – the Cerato S – comes with a six-speed manual gearbox but offers a six-speed conventional auto as an option. All other Ceratos have the auto as standard.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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Spending as little as possible on a Cerato will get you a Cerato S manual, which has cloth seat trim, halogen daytime running lights, manual air-conditioning and 16-inch steel wheels with plastic covers. The manual gearbox is standard.

The automatic transmission is a $1500 option.

The Cerato Sport comes with the automatic transmission as standard, cloth seats with sportier-looking trim, premium steering wheel, softer-touch door trims, and better looking 17-inch aluminium alloy wheels. Tyres are lower in profile and slightly wider, for a bit more cornering grip and precision.

Spend more again on the Sport+ and you get adaptive cruise control, and a more advanced autonomous emergency braking system that also detects pedestrians and cyclists.

The Sport+ also gains dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, rear-air vents, automatic folding door mirrors, longer-lasting LED daytime running lights and auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

The leather appointed seats are heated at the front, with powered settings for the driver including lumbar support. The centre console has a sliding armrest.

Optional extras

There are two optional safety packages available for Cerato.

Safety Pack 1 adds adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian/cyclist detection braking (that are standard in Sport+), rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring to S and Sport for about $1000.

Safety Pack 2 brings blind-spot detection, and rear cross-traffic alert to the Sport+ for an additional $500.

For a more detailed rundown on the Cerato’s safety features, see the What about safety …? tab below.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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The lower-profile 17-inch tyres on the Cerato Sport and Sport+ don’t smother bumps quite as well, because there is less air between the wheel and the road. They could also cost a bit more to replace.

You don’t have an option of a cheaper manual transmission if you upgrade to the Cerato Sport or Sport+.

Clear White is the colour that doesn’t come with a special paint surcharge. All other colours cost extra.

How comfortable is the Cerato sedan?

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The Cerato interior design is clean and elegant, with crisp instruments and a large central touchscreen that looks premium. It’s also ergonomically friendly, from the buttons and switches on the steering wheel to the main audio and ventilation controls placed quite high on the dash.

Storage is good for a small car, with a centre console tub, map pockets with bottle holders in all four doors and two cupholders each for the front and back seats. The centre console also has two USB ports, though only the high-grade Cerato Sport+ has a seatback pocket and rear seat air vents.

The Cerato is an easy car to drive, though the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine gets noisy if you drive it hard. However, it works well in the city and cruises comfortably on the highway, with enough oomph for overtaking.

A local suspension calibration ensures ride comfort is good too. Besides some thumping on rough-edged asphalt, the Cerato’s suspension is fairly well contained, though can border on floaty at higher speeds.

What about safety in a Cerato sedan?

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Six airbags, including two front, two side and two curtain inflators, contribute to good occupant protection in a crash, and rear-seat seatbelt reminders add security for people travelling with children or forgetful adults.

The reversing camera improves rear vision, while front and rear parking sensors provide further assistance when manoeuvring in tight spots. Auto headlamps can switch on before the driver notices they’re required, enhancing visibility.

All Cerato sedans are equipped with autonomous emergency braking (AEB). In the S and Sport this detects vehicles in front and if necessary stops the Cerato to avoid or mitigate a collision. Lane-keep assist is another range-wide standard.

The Sport+ has a more advanced AEB system that also detects pedestrians and cyclists. This is also available, along with adaptive cruise control, in the S and Sport as an optional safety package.

Blind-spot detection, and rear cross-traffic alert that detects a vehicle or pedestrian coming from either side behind you when reversing, are available at extra cost for all three Cerato variants.

The Cerato has three child-seat restraint anchorage points and two ISOFIX positions.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) is yet to assess the 2018 Cerato sedan.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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The Cerato sedan provides a solid driving experience. The steering feels light but direct and the ride feels stable and tied-down in most regular driving conditions. It grips fairly well, but its cornering performance is typical front-wheel-drive Korean – safe, but unexciting.

The suspension, which has been specifically tuned to handle Australian roads, feels at home soaking up bumpy roads, and handles corners with good grip and a satisfying sense of balance.

The 2.0-litre engine is a willing worker, even if it is not an inspiring element of the Cerato driving experience. It gets vocal when you ask for all of its performance, and up steep hills or with passengers aboard it can feel short on power and torque.

The six-speed automatic transmission is smooth and decisive.

The six-speed manual available in the base model Cerato S is an agreeable gearbox with a light shift action – though it suffers from an uncomfortably-shaped shift knob.

How is life in the rear seats?

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The Cerato has a spacious back seat that’s welcoming for two – or for three small people. Head room is adult-friendly and leg room very good, too.

For times when only two passengers are in the back, there is a fold-out armrest with a pair of cupholders.

The Cerato Sport+, has dedicated air-conditioning vents for rear passengers, and is the only model to have a storage pocket on the front seat backrest.

How is the Cerato sedan for carrying stuff?

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The Cerato hatch has one of the biggest boot spaces in its class, which expands from 520 litre seats-up to 657 litres with the 60/40 split-fold rear seats folded down, allowing it to accept bulky items more easily.

Storage is good elsewhere in the Cerato too, with bottle-friendly door pockets up front and a two-tier shelf at the base of the centre stack that is perfect for phones and wallets.

The covered centre console bin is quite spacious, and the generous storage story concludes with a large glovebox.

Where is the Kia Cerato sedan made?

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The Cerato is produced in South Korea.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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Perhaps the stronger response to the accelerator that you might enjoy in a turbocharged small sedan such as a Ford Focus, Holden Astra, some Honda Civics, Renault Megane or Skoda Octavia.

Or the greater security in slippery conditions of all-wheel drive, which is standard on a Subaru Impreza.

Other small sedans you might consider include the Mazda 3, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla and Mitsubishi Lancer.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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The Sport+ is the most impressive version, given its sizeable list of standard equipment and more upmarket presentation courtesy of leather upholstery. It’s not all glitter, however, given that variant also packages a more capable AEB system for better safety, along with rear-seat air vents, dual-zone climate control and heated front seats – features most buyers would be keen to have.

Are there plans to update the Cerato sedan soon?

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The new, fourth-generation, Cerato sedan arrived in Australia in June 2018 and for the rest of the year will be sold alongside the previous generation Cerato hatch.

The all-new Cerato hatch is expected either late this year or early in 2019. The next model will bring more interior space than the current model, auto-braking as standard, and there could be a sporty GT version.