Kia’s march upmarket continues unabated, and its range topping Sorento SUV is the perfect example of the brand’s intentions. The first-generation Sorento, with its body-on-frame underpinnings, is far removed from the stylized, quality led 2015 model.
Whilst the car carries over design features from the previous model, such as the shape of the glasshouse and d-pillar, the third-generation Sorento is an all-new body shell. The previous generation model had 28% high-tensile steel in the construction of its body, whilst in the new body that figure rises to 53%. The liberal application of high-tensile steel in the chassis legs, A-, B-, C-, and D-pillars as well as transmission tunnel and floor (below) has seen the Sorento’s baseline torsional rigidity figure improve by 14%.
One area, in which Kia has worked hard on with the Sorento, is in the suppression of external noise. NVH is a key contributing factor in ‘perceived quality’, and Kia has made extensive use of noise-suppressing material throughout the Sorento.
The Korean OEM has also paid close attention to the aerodynamics of the new Sorento, with the third-gen yielded a significantly lower drag coefficient of just 0.33. Airflow over the body has also been improved, thanks to a new rear spoiler design, and the reprofiling of the Sorento’s tail lamp clusters. In addition to this, the underside has gained an aerodynamic undertray, a claimed 250% larger than the previous Sorento’s.
The result of this, and other detailed noise suppression measures, is a reduction in noise inside the cabin of three per cent at idle and up to six per cent when the car is in motion.
Kia states that its engineers have also worked to ensure the new model delivers ‘more of a luxury-car ride, and more engaging and precise on-road handling’.
This has been achieved through a revised rear-suspension set-up, which mounts the rear dampers vertically (above). In previous generations, the rear dampers were mounted at an angle of 23°. The revised damper angle is in conjunction with longer lower arms on the Sorento.
The new model makes use of Magna Powertrain’s ‘Dynamax’ electronic all-wheel-drive system, which was first seen in Kia’s compact SUV, the Sportage. Like most modern AWD systems, it has been designed to deliver 100% of engine torque to the front wheels, but can redistributed up to a maximum of 60:40. For off-road driving, owners can manually lock the system at a 50:50 torque split, for speeds of up to 25mph.
Kia has Dynamax with its ‘Advanced Traction Cornering Control’ (ATCC). Compared with all-wheel-drive systems that control wheelspin by braking the spinning wheel, or electronically reign-in engine torque, ATCC automatically and instantaneously transfers torque to those wheels which still have grip, before the ESC system can intervene.
The 2015 Sorento is Kia’s first SUV to feature rack-mounted Motor Driven Power Steering (R-MDPS). Previously, the electric motor module that controlled the steering was mounted mid-way up the steering column. With R-MDPS it is mounted directly to the steering rack.