Looking to celebrate Canada’s upcoming birthday, I coordinated a Canada 150 getaway with The Ottawa Tourism board. Kia was happy to jump in and lend us the Kia Sorento SX+, a larger cross-over SUV. Now, before we go any further I’d like to make a note, this may not read like other car reviews you have read before. This isn’t a car website, it’s a dad website – all about parenting. Sure, I put my foot down on one or two occasions when I thought K wasn’t paying attention. Absolutely I scoped out the horsepower and torque figures, but at the end of the day I was most interested in the Sorento as a family hauler – a day to day driving machine that will do the school run with groceries and a stroller in the back.
Dad issue #1 – Space:
I am a master at packing the car. Over the years I have honed my Tetris skills into real-world applications to maximize every square inch of cargo capacity, but there is always a limit. On our recent trip to Massachusetts we rented a similar sized SUV from a different brand, let’s call them H. When we loaded up the back of the H I was alarmed at how little cargo space there was, without any option for a third row of seats. The Sorento on the other hand has ample space. 2 large bags which were definitely over packed, a crib, highchair, diaper bag, and a the jogging stroller (let’s get the big one, I said. It’ll be fine, I said…) fit no problem with the third row of seats folded flat.
Then we get to the passenger area. In the H we had to move the driver and passenger seats forward to make enough space for the car-seat. This made the drive very uncomfortable, and probably much less safe. In the Sorento there was much more room in the back seats. The car seat fit snugly in the centre of the second row, and K had plenty of room next to T for the drive. Up front I had ample room, which is typically a challenge with my 6’3″ frame. Joining me as navigator was my brother-in-law Kris. Almost as tall and built like a linebacker – he had no complaints either.
Dad issue #2 – Tech:
The Sorento SX+ is the top of the line model, complete with a battery of safety and comfort features. This was my first time using adaptive cruise control and I have to say it was life changing. If there is one thing that I can’t stand on the highway it’s when I need to break cruise. With Adaptive Cruise Control, the car automatically slows to match the speed of the vehicle ahead, and when it is safe to pass you can change lanes and the car will automatically resume your previous speed. Combined with the break assist, the system will manage to keep you at a safe distance, and it handles being cut off far better than I can.
The navigation and entertainment display is very convenient and easy to use. Combining physical buttons and the touch-screen makes it easy to jump from music to navigation, and the menus are very intuitive. I easily paired my phone using Bluetooth, and the voice recognition was accurate. I called K on my way home and she couldn’t tell I was on speakerphone.
My biggest concern with using such a large vehicle was parking. I have my boating license and I’ve parked my parent’s 35 foot powerboat before (that’s not true actually, I got it about 8 feet from the dock and threw lines to the crowd which was watching my horrific failure), but this was different. Fortunately the Kia Sorento has a 360 degree camera system and folding mirrors. Parking has never been easier! I easily pulled in to a space marked out for a compact car with room all around to unload the Wee Baby T and all of our gear. Backing out of the space was just as easy with cross-traffic alerts and proximity notifications.
Dad issue #3 – POWER!!
Ok, I started by saying I wouldn’t talk about this stuff, but I can’t resist. The Kia Sorento SX+ has a 3.3 litre DOHC V6, putting an impressive 290 horsepower at the beck and call of your big toe. Combined with a super smooth 7 speed automatic transmission the Sorento responds instantly to your request for more umph, but with the quiet dignity of a well trained butler. Merging onto the highway and finding nothing but empty road ahead, I mashed down the accelerator and watched the speedometer climb, while K and T were in the back having a sing-song, seemingly unaware of our acceleration. Sorry hun, I’ve gotta play a little… I was counting in my head (dadsense.ca strives for rigorous scientific standards and accuracy) and it took about 3 seconds to get from 50 to 100 (ish) while in Eco mode (we averaged 9.5 L/100KM over 900 KMs).
Dad issue #4 – Comfort:
Maybe I’m getting old, but if I’m going to be stuck in traffic for hours on end I want to be at a comfortable temperature, I want my lumbar region well supported, and I want my ride to be jostle free. With vented and heated front seats, heated 2nd row seats, and climate control settings for passengers who may get relegated to the third row, everyone in the Sorento gets to be comfortable. The driver seat has 2 programmable positions, so each driver can easily adjust the seat and side mirrors to a comfortable position before they even get in the car – a bonus if you, like me, are blessed with a surplus in the leg department. The smooth ride made the Sorento easy to drive on the highway or in the city.
Let’s be honest now – this isn’t a track car. You’re not going to drop the kids at school and head to Calabogie Speedway for a flying lap. The Sorento is about style, comfort, safety, and convenience. Sure it has an estimated top speed of just shy of 200 KPH (I didn’t test this…), but that’s just silly. I had a great time driving this car for the last 4 days. It handled everything we asked and didn’t complain once.