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2006 Kia Sorento 2.5CRDi XE

Jul 2006 - First Report (84 miles)

2006 Kia Sorento XE 2006 Kia Sorento XE 2006 Kia Sorento XE 2006 Kia Sorento XE 2006 Kia Sorento XE 2006 Kia Sorento XE

When the Sorento was launched in 2003 it immediately caught my eye. At that time Kia was definitely a 2nd division budget brand in my eyes and certainly didn’t feature on my "cars to consider" radar. With that in mind, the Sorento was an unforeseen left-hook that, whilst not exactly knocking me out, certainly made me sit up and take notice. Here was a large, visually handsome SUV (one of the best looking available at any price in my opinion) at what appeared to be a bargain price (£18,000 at the time). When you consider what the competition was in the price bracket it almost looked too good to be true and there had to be a catch.

I got my first close-up look at a subsequent Birmingham Motor Show. I examined the car in great detail on Kia’s stand and also managed to get a ride in one around the off-road course in the grounds of the NEC. I was very impressed - from the quality of build and materials to the thoughtfulness of design and off road ability. The catch that I was sure had to be there was somehow eluding me.

Despite that successful first acquaintance, I didn’t really consider buying one until sometime later. I had no need for a large 4x4. It was only after about the 10th trip to visit our relatives in Ireland that I began to think about it. You see, the single track lane up to the house is, shall we say, less than perfect, and as our Passat bounced up it, scraping the underside of the front bumper on the road I concluded that ground clearance was an issue. And this attack on the front bumper didn’t only occur on the minor lanes, some of the "proper" roads are not much better. You can be happily motoring along at the legal limit of 100kmh, enjoying the scenery and emptiness of the roads, when you’ll hit a hard to spot undulation which can result in an unpleasant bang as plastic and tarmac meet.

So that was settled - a car with more ground clearance was required. It had to be large enough to swallow the excessive amounts of "stuff" we seem to take to Ireland and be able to handle the trips to the DIY store for my latest home improvement project. It had to have the ground clearance to do the Ireland thing, be comfortable, well equipped, stylish, good value and reasonably economical. To be honest, when I started looking around there was really only one outcome. The Freelander’s boot was far too small, it was too expensive and reports of poor reliability didn’t help it. The Rav-4 was a bit too girly, the X-Trail was a bit too weird looking and the CRV was leading the ugly race. I considered various pick-ups but found them a bit too impractical. When it came down to it, taking price, looks, quality and equipment into account, for me there was no contest.

Now, the only thing to do was convince my wife. Kia was almost an unknown brand to her, and what she did know didn’t shout "quality". However, a trip to a local dealer and a test drive left her suitably impressed, especially with the design and quality of the interior. "Those grey bumpers look crap though" was the only real complaint. So after a bit of haggling with the dealer, BCC Bolton, we got a black pre-registered 06 plate XE with 42 miles on the clock for £15,999, some four grand off the list price and a far better than expected trade-in value. I agreed with my wife’s astute observation about the bumpers so we paid a bit extra to have them and the wheel arches painted in body colour.

It took just under two weeks before the car was available to collect and the hand over was smooth and efficient. As the salesman showed us around the car I couldn’t help noticing how fantastic it looked entirely in black. Why Kia insist on not making this an option in the UK is beyond me - they do in other countries. Still, I suppose it makes mine a bit unique and it was definitely worth the extra outlay.

Initial thoughts: Whilst the engine is definitely diesel and not the most refined I have ever experienced, it never sounds harsh or strained and is never intrusive. It pulls well from around 1500 rpm when the turbo starts to kick-in and never feels short of go. Mid-range punch is particularly good and the Sorento can be hustled along well for its size. Ride quality is definitely on the firm side (although I have heard that changing tyres from the standard-fit Hancooks makes a big difference here - watch this space). One thing you notice straightaway is that the steering is quite indirect. So, although it is light and reasonably accurate, there is generally a lot more steering to do. You soon get used to it though and only notice it if you drive other cars regularly. Inside is a nice place to be and quality appears to be excellent.

The timing of my new acquisition couldn’t have been better. This coming weekend we’re off to Ireland for two weeks so that should be the perfect opportunity to get to grips with the Sorento and see if the anticipated "catch" reveals itself.

Gav.

Aug 06 - Second Report (1,080 miles)...More

Sep 06 - Third Report (2,300 miles)...More

Nov 07 - Fourth Report (24,300 miles)...More

Feb 08 - Fifth Report (27,600 miles)...More

Apr 08 - Sixth Report (31,800 miles)...More

Feb 09 - Seventh Report (47,000 miles)...More

Aug 09 - Eighth Report (49,500 miles)...More

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