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Kia Sorento GT-Line diesel 2022 review


At over $67,000 driveaway, the flagship Kia Sorento isn’t cheap, but with levels of luxe and design chic typically found in premium brands, this could be the best-value large family SUV you can buy

Good points

  • Generous specification level
  • Practicality with seating for seven
  • Accomplished driving dynamics
  • Style and desirability, inside and out

Needs work

  • Curtain airbags don’t completely stretch to third row
  • Wireless smartphone mirroring missing
  • More choice of cabin colours, please!

Family life is tough. Kids are messy, noisy, emotional and damn expensive. For car enthusiasts, worse news comes when you realise you have to ditch the sports car (or dreams of one) and buy something dull and practical like a Kia Sorento seven-seat SUV.

Funny thing is, as long as a vehicle excels at what it’s designed to do, you can’t help but admire it. And when you realise that it’s been created almost perfectly for your life (which now includes children), you start loving it.

I won’t mess around – this Kia Sorento is the best-value large family SUV on sale today, and I’ll happily argue that point at the pub with anyone who’ll listen.

You can drive one away for under $50,000 – a Sorento S V6 petrol that has impressive specification for an entry-level SUV – while this flagship GT-Line diesel hits the road for just over $67,000.

Kia Sorento GT-Line 2021-4

That’s a lot of money for a Kia, but the Sorento GT-Line Diesel AWD offers all the style, luxury, safety and build quality you’d expect of premium alternatives that stretch deep into six-figure territory price-wise.

If you can do without the badge cachet of seven-seaters from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Land Rover and the like, you’re far from slumming it with the large SUVs from everyperson’s  brands these days – especially if you plump for range-toppers.

My best-buy Sorento claim doesn’t come lightly. Its twin-under-the-skin Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander Diesel ($65,200 before on-road costs) runs it close; a Mazda CX-8 Asaki LE ($69,290) is sumptuous and spec-rich but not quite as roomy, and a new Toyota Kluger GXL AWD Hybrid ($63,350) is more economical, but just doesn’t feel as special.

You’re spoiled with all of the above, but tempted buyers would be mad to not benchmark any of those vehicles against the Sorento flagship, even if you hold outdated negative preconceptions of the Kia brand.

Looks are subjective but the big Kia has genuine road presence. Vertical tail-lights wrapping around the side of the body have a dash of Ford Mustang to them, while ‘tiger eye’ headlights continue the tough-guy theme. Countless sharp edges and 20-inch alloys help distance the new Sorento from the vanilla design of the past.

How does the Sorento GT-Line diesel drive?

Despite its obvious dynamic talents, the Sorento doesn’t defy physics. It’s a big beast and Kia’s local engineering team have erred towards comfort rather than outright handling, as they should.

If you need a seven-seater to double as a cornering hero, get saving and buy a BMW X5 with adaptive damping.

Kia Sorento GT-Line 2021-3

That said, body roll is kept very well in check on tight turns, the steering is light while providing ample feel, and the Sorento’s all-wheel-drive system (standard on diesel models) plus grippy rubber gives a strong sense of security when cornering.

There are some notoriously slippery-when-wet roundabouts on my test route, but the big Sorento shone in these conditions. This is what parents want – confidence that the family SUV won’t act its size and weight, and snow-plough into the scenery on damp surfaces.

Maybe it’s the 20-inch rubber, but road imperfections sent the occasional sharp bump through the cabin, but this is splitting hairs. On the daily school run it proved a composed, supple and quiet performer – the suspension settling nicely over undulations and speed bumps. Ideal litmus test? The kids were happy to sit in the third row of seats, and there was no nausea or vomit warnings to report.

Kia Sorento GT-Line 2021-25

The 2.2-litre turbo-diesel’s 148kW of power doesn’t thrill, but its 440Nm torque figure gives impressive off-the-mark grunt for a 1908kg SUV. There’s no aural theatre as found in the now dearly-departed Skoda Kodiaq RS diesel, however, and the Sorento’s Sport mode button seems a bit superfluous.

While a V6 petrol Sorento uses an eight-speed torque-converter auto, this diesel has an eight-speed ‘wet’ dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters. DCTs often suffer from low-speed jerkiness, but Kia’s effort keeps things, practically always, in the land of the smooth. It’s a pretty fuss-free engine/transmission combo, which is precisely what’s needed in a family SUV.

In fact, get a bit eager with the throttle and it rapidly flies through the gears, keeping that diesel noise humming rather than barking. You’ll get the familiar oil-burner roar if it detects you’re in a real hurry, but select Comfort drive mode and there’s serious serenity in your well-padded cabin.

The high driving position and raft of driver aids equals an unruffled motorway steed. Colour head-up display, radar cruise control and Lane Follow Assist help – the latter controlling acceleration, braking and steering, depending on vehicles in front. When indicating, the digital dash temporarily replaces your speedo or tacho with a live video feed of your blind-spot. That’s excellent safety.

Kia Sorento GT-Line 2021-13

There’s a party piece too. The GT-Line’s Remote Smart Parking Assist means you can autonomously move the car out of a front-and-back parking space remotely, just using the key fob. It brakes if it detects an obstacle (stationary or moving), and works effectively, albeit a bit slowly.

It’s handy if you’re squeezing into a particularly tight spot, such as those city apartment parking spaces designed only for Kia Picantos or motorcycles. Tech for tech’s sake? Maybe, but it’s quite lovely having your car roll out of the garage to greet you in the morning.

Drivability scorecard
Power & performance
Ride & refinement

How is the Sorento GT-Line diesel’s interior?

Palatial. Okay, so it’s a rung down from something truly luxurious like a Genesis GV80, but the Sorento GT-Line really does match most premium SUVs for cabin class.

You’re initially struck by a brace of digital displays – a 12.3-inch driver instrument cluster beside a 10.25-inch central infotainment screen. Even with this digital overdose, blessedly Kia has kept ventilation controls to physical buttons for rapid and simple use.

Kia Sorento GT-Line 2021-11

There’s appreciated design and attention to detail in the Star Wars-esque air vents and metal-look trim for the doors and dash. The centre console has big chunks of piano black and classy knurled metal for the rotary gear shifter.

You’re cossetted by quilted, Nappa-leather-appointed seats but Kia’s missed a trick by only offering them in black. It’s a lovely light cabin with its panoramic sunroof, but some striking upholstery colours such as cream or brown could elevate the luxe feeling to the next level.

A Sorento Sport Plus – the grade below our GT-Line – is a substantial $7600 cheaper, but does that make it hard to justify this range-topper? Not if you insist on spoiling yourself. If you have enough kids to fill all the seats, then life isn’t easy and you deserve some luxury!

Kia Sorento GT-Line 2021-26

Rattling off the goodies, there’s 64-colour ambient lighting, a Bose audio system, 360-degree camera view, wireless phone charging (though you need to plug in for Apple CarPlay/Android Auto), heated front- and middle-row seats, ventilated driver and passenger seats, and an in-car intercom so you can speak to rear passengers without raising your voice.

Second-row head and legroom are mighty, and these slide forward 45mm to create genuine adult-sized seating for the rearmost two chairs. Cupholders, smartphone trays, air vents and ventilation controls show the third row isn’t a token add-on. You can ride there in decent comfort for long periods.

It’s surprising how many family SUVs fail on the obvious features front. The Sorento’s gone the other way. There are rear blinds, a total of eight cupholders and four bottle holders, plus three USBs up front, three in the middle and two for the back row. Excellent.

Super-breeders enjoy four Isofix child-seat points, plus five top-tether strap mounts. A big letdown, although not unique to the Sorento, is the side curtain airbag not stretching the full length to cover the third row of seats.

Kia Sorento GT-Line 2021-20

At least active safety to prevent collisions is lengthy, with standouts being rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, blind spot collision-avoid assist, and AEB for pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles and when pulling out of junctions.

With seven seats in place there’s 187 litres boot space – enough for just a few shopping bags, but a welcome one-third more than the old Sorento. With such high spec it’s almost surprising to see straps rather than electric buttons to fold the two back seats, but at least the job is rapid – giving you a flat floor with 616 litres of space. The tailgate, of course, is fully electric.

Interior scorecard
Layout & materials
Cabin technology
Driver comfort
Passenger space

What are the Sorento GT-Line diesel’s running costs?

You’re asked for an extra $3000 to move from a V6 petrol 2WD to a diesel AWD, but the combined economy of 6.1L/100km (versus 9.7L/100km in the petrol) helps the latter’s case. If your Sorento’s mainly an urbanite (which most are), claimed city economy is 7.4L/100km versus 13.7L/100km for the petrol V6. That’s a big difference.

Our test returned an average of 7.7L/100km after some 1500km – thirstier than official figures, but real-world reasonable all the same. A full tank buys some 1000km range in the diesel.

Kia Sorento GT-Line 2021-22

Warranty is superb at seven-years/unlimited kilometres. Service intervals are every 15,000km and bills total $1287 for the first three- ears and $2393 for the first five (or 75,000km). Toyota’s Kluger Hybrid across five years is just $1250, but it’s exceptionally cheap for the segment.

Metallic paint – Mineral blue suits the Sorento best – adds $695.

Running costs scorecard

The final verdict

The only blots really worthy of note on the Kia Sorento GT-Line Diesel are the missing third-row curtain airbags and no wireless smartphone mirroring. Aside from that, an exceptional specification level, a true feeling of luxury and an all-round impressive drive experience make the Sorento GT-Line a benchmark seven-seater.

Kia Sorento GT-Line 2021-6

At over $67,000 on the road it looks expensive for a Kia, but the value proposition is high. Lesser-grade Sorentos are kinder on the wallet, but the GT-Line’s specification level shames many a prestige brand and you can easily justify buying the range-topper here.

Can a car make parenting easier? Yes it can.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Running costs
Overall rating
Running costs

Variant tested GT-LINE 7 SEAT

Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

2151 cc
Diesel Turbo
148kW at 3800rpm
440Nm at 1750rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
67 litres
6.1L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
1098km (claimed)
All Wheel Drive
4810 mm
1900 mm
1700 mm
Unoccupied weight
1908 kg

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