What is the 2020 Kia Sorento GT-Line?
For a while there, I was getting worried about Kia. While it occasionally hit the mark with clever cars with decent specs, the brand sometimes trod on its own toes when it came to rolling out the right car for the times – and it’s been in the market for a while now.
The fourth-generation Kia Sorento SUV, I’m pleased to report, has laid those fears to rest.
The five-door, seven-seat large SUV has hit the mark straight out of the box with a combination of contemporary styling, well-balanced spec sheets and excellent road manners.
Price and value
Sitting at the top of a four-strong variant lineup, the GT-Line comes in both diesel and petrol versions. The one in the pics is, in fact, one of the first 13 to arrive in Australia, unceremoniously plucked from a boat and rushed to Wheels magazine’s 2021 Car Of The Year event.
Equipped with a 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 petrol engine and an eight-speed gearbox that sends drive to just the front wheels, the GT-Line comes in at $60,070 before on-road costs.
That seems like a big number, but trust me… you get a lot for your money. Those big 20-inch rims and Continental tyres kick things off, while LED headlight and taillight clusters also feature.
A powered tailgate offers access to the rear of the Sorento, with triple-zone air-conditioning extending to the rearmost seats.
Up front, the driver looks at a high-definition digital dashboard and multimedia screen while gripping a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Quilted leather trim is used throughout, while the t-bar automatic is banished for a rotary dial to digitally control the gearbox.
There are at least ten ways to plug in and charge USB-powered devices, including USB ports in the sides of the front seats.
A microphone system that allows speech to carry to the rear of the Sorento is accessed through the 12.3-inch screen, which also runs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as AM, FM and DAB+ radio.
Both front seats are heated, cooled and powered, while the outboard second-row seats are heated. Those second-row seats can be moved fore and aft and reclined, while passengers can control the level of climate required.
Even the third row doesn’t miss out, sporting its own fan controls, movable vents, cupholders and USB ports.
The cargo area offers more charging opportunities via a 12v charging socket, while a floor panel neatly houses a cargo blind and a small wet tub.
Living with the Kia Sorento GT-Line V6 petrol
I covered more than 2000km in a week with the Sorento GT-Line, and it proved to be a dependable, competent and well-equipped family SUV.
The driving position is almost spot-on, thanks to a compact and comfortable steering wheel, a broad yet supportive seat and ample soft zones for elbows and knees.
After a particularly long stint, I found myself wishing for a slightly more padded seat base, but that’s a nitpick.
Second-row passengers are wonderfully cossetted, too, and you’ll hear no complaints from the kids back there.
Comfortable seats with reclining backrests are complemented by a broad pull-down armrest, while the bench itself can be slid fore and aft by 45mm to accentuate either cargo or personal space.
That third row of seats stashed behind, as well, is useful not just for tiny tackers, but their sub-teen siblings. As usual, it’s an awkward dance to access them, but once ensconced, they’ll be happy enough with sufficient chargers, bottle holders and vents.
Up front, the digital dash is complemented by a heads-up display, which makes the digital renders of the analogue dials pretty much redundant.
The touchscreen is a bit of a stretch to reach but offers a crystal clear view.
A 360-degree camera system works at parking speeds in both forward and reverse gear, too, which is damn handy; the Sorento is a pretty big car at 4.8m in length.
Being the top-spec GT-Line means it has Kia’s keyfob-operated remote parking feature, too… but here’s the thing. Once you’ve played with that feature once or twice, I guarantee you’ll never use it again.
It needs to be activated before you exit the car, for a start, which for me kind of defeats the purpose.
Carrying stuff? Space is increased over the previous generation Sorento, from 605 litres to 821 litres with the third row of seats folded down. With the third row in use, available cargo space is still up 32 per cent to 187 litres; more than enough to stow a brace of shopping, a small pram stashed vertically or a couple of suitcases.
If you want to tow something, you’re able to drag 2000kg of braked trailer behind the Sorento with a 200kg load on the towball, or 750kg of unbraked trailer.
For a big, powerful SUV, this is a surprisingly low number. Our guess is that the full-size spare wheel, which hangs under the rear bumper, hinders the fitment of a sufficiently strong crossbar setup that can handle more load.
Engine, transmission and drivetrain
This version of the Sorento is powered by an updated version of Kia’s naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine, sending 220kW and 332Nm to the front wheels only via a traditional eight-speed torque-sensing automatic.
There is no all-wheel-drive option for the petrol-powered Sorento, which is a bit of a shame as there’s sufficient oomph underfoot to chirp the front tyres, especially in loose or damp conditions.
Of course, with stability control and the like, there’s little chance of things going awry.
If you need a bit more control over gearing on slippery surfaces, you can also override the gear shifter with the paddles behind the wheel, but the petrol-powered GT-Line lacks the terrain mode selection ability of the all-wheel-drive diesel version.
Driving the Kia Sorento GT-Line V6 petrol
After a solid 2000km in the Sorento GT-Line, I’ve got nothing but praise for Kia’s new big SUV. By every measure, it’s easy to drive, easy to live with… and it doesn’t hurt that it’s easy on the eye, as well.
At $60k plus, of course, it needs to be all those things, but there really isn’t an area where the Sorento lets itself down.
The locally-tuned suspension rides the line between comfort and body control just so, even with the addition of the large 20-inch rims, while body-roll control is spot-on, even through long, sweeping turns.
Noise intrusion is minimal, visibility is excellent and the equipment offered onboard makes for an easy journey.
The fact that the large multimedia screen isn’t able to spread Apple CarPlay across its width feels a bit silly, if I’m picking at small things, but that’s a firmware upgrade away from being sorted out.
As well, the LED headlights are strong and bright, and the adaptive headlight system works very well.
Safety for the Kia Sorento GT-Line
Safety-wise, Kia’s latest advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) provides the latest autonomous emergency braking technology with pedestrian, cyclist and vehicle detection. It can also spot oncoming traffic when making a turn at a junction.
It is available with blind-spot monitoring, surround-view parking display, intelligent speed limit assist, smart cruise control with Stop & Go, navigation-based smart-cruise control that can adjust your speed based on speed limits, lane-keeping assist, and driver attention warning.
However, its curtain airbags don’t extend all the way to the third row, which is a real oversight.
And while its turbo-diesel siblings have been awarded a full five-star ANCAP rating thanks to a similar score achieved under European testing, the petrol-powered Sorento isn’t rated at all because it’s not available over there.
How much does it cost to run the Kia Sorento GT-Line V6 petrol?
With a claimed combined fuel economy figure of 9.7L/100km, the Sorento’s 67-litre tank will allow for a range of around 670km from a single fill and will cost around $85 to fill.
Over my extended test, the real-world fuel economy number came in at 10.8L/100km, which is pretty close to its ambit claim.
Seven years of roadside assistance and capped-price service complement Kia's seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Fixed-priced servicing over the warranty period will set you back around $3600, or about $520 a year.
Verdict – the 2020 Kia Sorento GT-Line V6 petrol
As a large, comfortable and refined family SUV, the good-looking Sorento marks itself up in a number of key areas. It’s quiet, it’s settled and it has all the stuff that a modern family could ever want.
It does, however, let itself down a little in the safety stakes with the two-row-only curtain airbags, while another 500kg of braked towing capacity would be welcome.
The petrol-powered version is thirstier and lacks AWD, which may push buyers towards its diesel-drinking sibling.
What you will like
Handsome, stacked with kit, great to drive
What you won’t
Thirsty, two-row-only curtain airbags