Who’s afraid of the S-word?

October 1, 2021

Definitely not Kia, that car manufacturer from South Korea. Fact is, almost every other vehicle that comes out of its assembly line has an S-word embellished on its exterior. Name it: Stinger, Soul, Sportage, Sedona, Sorento, and lately the Stonic. All unique names. Each one representing the characteristics of a particular model.

While they do offer other vehicles globally unique in their own rights like Rio, Forte, Telluride and Cadenza, it is the S-models that got us curious and mystified.

We had a lot of fun googling the Korean automobiles’ whimsical names before plunging into a test drive of their Kia Sorento last week.

Take the case of the Kia Soul, a personality-filled sub-compact crossover that summarizes the favorite parts of its self-image. Or the Kia Sportage which is most comfortable existing in a sporty mode. It is a combination of “sport” and the suffix “age”.

When we test drove the Kia Stonic about a month ago, we found out that it is actually a combination of speedy and tonic, referring to its quickness and agility despite being relatively smaller than other vehicles in its class.

Last week, as we took the Kia Sorento for a spin, we learned that the word is actually a small village in Italy whose people revered sirens from Greek mythology. The name lends itself to the alluring nature of the midsize crossover which offers three rows of seats uncommon for its size.

That actually was what surprised us upon getting our hands on the vehicle. A tad smaller than most SUV’s, the Kia Sorento EX AWD we got was actually a 2019 model belonging to the third-generation of the vehicle following the success of its maiden offering sometime in 2011.

In fact, the Daily Tribune has that first-generation model as one of its service vehicles. Although only a five-seater, it was rather bulky but our office drivers swear how quick and responsive it is for those sudden spurts on the highway.

It is this quickness and responsive acceleration that surprised us, too, when we got behind the wheel of the 2019 Sorento that we took for a spin last week.

Despite carrying more passengers, the turbo-charged crossover with a powerful diesel engine gave us an unexpected jerk when we pressed on the accelerator pedal along the highway, allowing us to overtake with ease. We thought we should have worn a neck brace for those sudden jolts, but we quickly adjusted and tamed the beast as we trudged on.

We took it off road and the beast absorbed bumps and uneven terrains in stride as the suspension, along with its 60-series tires, did a good job of smoothing out imperfections.

As in most Kia vehicles, the Sorento comes with simple yet sophisticated style highlighted by its signature Tiger Nose grille. Its chrome accent extends from the top of the front door all the way to the back.

Inside, the Sorento has black leather themed interior with a light gray headliner. The design is functional although compared to its contemporaries, it’s a little bit outdated. But no mistake, the whole thing gets the job done. You get cubby holes around the transmission tunnel and a power-adjustable seat for the driver. Bottle and cup holders as well as air vents adorn both sides, too.

What surprised us most is the adjustable second and third rows of seats that can be configured to accommodate seven passengers. Cargo space is not wanting, offering 320 liters of space at the back with the third row up. There is also a hidden compartment at the rear for more storage space. With the third-row seats lowered, you get approximately 1,000 liters worth of cargo and double that with the second row similarly down.

Powered by a 2.2-liter turbo diesel motor, the Sorento produces 197hp and 441N-m of torque that lets you accelerate on highways with ease. Giving access to all that power is an eight-speed automatic transmission that comes with a manual mode. You could also opt to use the cruise control feature, but with such a beast in your hands, you would probably choose to keep on accelerating.

But then again, we wouldn’t advise that.