In the United States, consumers often rely on studies if they want to know which current vehicle models are solidly built, have controls that are easy to operate, possess vehicle technology that continues to function well or consistently and won’t give them too many headache when it comes to maintenance concerns. One particular study is the JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study, which for the last 32 years, has polled owners of three-year-old cars to see just how many problems they’ve experienced.
Like the previous editions, the 2021 study measured the number of problems per 100 vehicles or PP100—the lower the score, the higher dependability—and covered 177 specific problems grouped into eight major vehicle categories: audio/communication/entertainment/navigation or ACEN; engine/transmission; exterior; interior; features/controls/displays or FCD; driving experience; heating/ventilation/air conditioning; and seats.
Consistent chart-toppers Lexus and Porsche is joined this year by Kia, which showed considerable improvement by reducing its PP100 score by 35 compared to its 2020 showing. It also makes the Korean automaker the best-scoring mass-market brand (read: non-luxury) by a long shot thanks to the performance of its three models that included the Sorento, this year’s No. 1 the midsize SUV segment, the study noted.
What does this mean for car buyers? Well, it means that the odds are good that your Sorento will treat you better over the next three years than ever before. It also means that you should keep an eye on Korean (and not just Japanese) brands when shopping for the most reliable ownership experience.
World-class ownership experience
“At Kia, we take pride in delivering a world-class ownership experience. We are honored to be ranked among the best automotive marques, which further reflects what our brand-new logo and a new global motto, ‘Movement that Inspires’ are all about. They are now being applied in real terms, with tangible benefits to Kia vehicle owners,” said Kia Philippines President, Manny Aligada.
The third-generation Sorento, which made its European debut at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, is regarded as the best iteration of the SUV to date, exhibiting a unique blend of style and practicality.
Readily identified by its smooth, swept-back profile and deeply sculpted surfaces, the Sorento exhibits a higher level of sophistication. Kia’s Namyang design studio in Korea (with significant input from the brand’s Frankfurt, Germany and Irvine, California design studios), gave the Sorento a long, wrap-around headlamps and more prominent fog-lamps, as well as a larger, more upright “tiger-nose” grille, with a distinctive three-dimensional diamond pattern. At the same time the designers retained the Sorento’s long bonnet and characteristic wide D-pillar but added a lower roofline, higher beltline and swept-back shape for a more dramatic, muscular stance.
Powering the two Sorento variants here in the Philippines (EX AT 4×2 and EX AT 4×4) is a 2.2 CRDi four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine that generates 197hp and a hefty 441Nm of torque. this engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic with Shiftronic.
The sleek look of the Sorento belies its dimension: at 4.8m in length, 1.89m in width and in 1.685m height, the Sorento is able to offer three rows for seven. The second row’s 40:20:40 split and third row’s 50:50 split enables one to configure the spaces inside to accommodate all sorts of cargo shapes.
Another distinctive interior styling in the Sorento is the Swiss watch-inspired user interface, which incorporates Kia’s HMI (human-machine interface) technologies. The flowing contours of the dashboard rise to incorporate the driver’s instrument panel, while the smoothly styled design curve in the doors, which leads from the audio speakers (four speakers plus two tweeters) up to the SUV-style grab handles, also endows the cabin with a more luxurious, sophisticated appearance.
The Sorento offers a number of new, advanced on-board technologies to improve convenience and further enhance the ownership experience. These features include: a 7-inch touchscreen that is compatible with Bluetooth Handsfree with Voice Control, Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto (the screen also displays rear-camera images—with static guide lines in the 4×4 variant—when reversing); cruise control; front/rear parking distance sensors; power tailgate on the 4×4 variant (so owners can slide their shopping bags or heavy objects more conveniently into the vehicle); external rear view mirror with turn signal indicators; steering wheel with audio, Bluetooth and cruise controls; and LED daytime running lights on the 4×4 variant.
Strong body structure
Throughout the development of the Sorento, Kia engineers also focused on strengthening the body shell structure and improving NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) characteristics to increase refinement and create a more serene driving environment. In fact, the structure of the Sorento is significantly stronger than the second generation, thanks in large part to widespread use of ultra-high tensile steel: 10.1 percent more to greatly strengthen the A- and B-pillar areas.
The increased torsional rigidity of the new body shell (up by 14 percent compared to the second generation) provides an excellent foundation for both enhanced refinement and improved safety. The NVH-reducing measures adopted for the Sorento include new soundproofing material for the transmission tunnel, a 29 percent thicker dashboard soundproofing panel, a DPF cover and an acoustic shield integrated into the diesel engine’s timing chain cover. Cabin noise is thus, reduced by 3-to-6 percent, depending on driving conditions.
While Kia engineers retained the MacPherson struts at the front/Kia’s multi-link system at the rear setup, the subframe supporting the suspension at the rear has larger bushings (to better isolate it from the cabin) and larger shock absorbers are now mounted vertically behind the axle line (to improve body control motion). These modifications, together with a long wheelbase measuring 2.78m, deliver a more compliant ride, with a more progressive response to bumps in the road, making the Sorento a very comfortable ride in which to spend time on longer journeys.
Indeed, while redesigned vehicles and brand-new models often fetch headlines and social media buzz, the old/current stalwarts are typically more likely to hold up well on the road. And if you want reliability, your best bet at the moment is to get vehicles like the highly rated Sorento where all initial growing pains have been ironed out.
Charles E. Buban is an old timer in the Philippine automotive journalism scene. He first started covering the automotive beat in 2003, writing news and reviews of new models and car tech, among other car-related stuff. When not writing about cars, he could often be seen riding his mountain bike or doing long walks in the hope of catching a couple of legendary Pokemons.