It’s no more Once Upon A Time, it’s a Sorento!

If you’ve been told a tale of how generations gone by employed the services of camels and horses, and possibly elephants as means of transportation, one should be appreciative of the natural advantages and characters of the antiquated transportation vehicles such as allowing better view, feeling of confidence for the rider as the animal structures give the seated rider a straight-spine seating outlook. However, the differentiation in the highlighted old days transport mode was their different speed. While one, the camel, has the capacity for long distance travel without rest albeit moving with measured strides, the horse on the other hand has the ability to travel at speed and strength, while the elephant exhibited route clearance ability, that is, nothing barred its movement.

Before getting green with envy and wishing why you didn’t exist in that era to have a feel of what it takes to be serviced by these mammals. Well, now, you can find solace in the fact that those once-upon-a-time qualities of riding beast of burden as means of transportation are packed into one power machine. The Sorento combines all these qualities.

Kia Motors Corporation, makers of quality vehicles for the young-at-heart, was founded in 1944 and is Korea’s oldest manufacturer of motor vehicles. And going through the company track records, it would be agreed that their reputation is well deserved. Kia aims to become one of the world’s premier automotive brands. This aspiration is displayed in its products, especially in the Sorento.

The mid-size SUV Kia Sorento, with a big breathing V6 heart, is truck-like in design, having a separate truck-style frame, but never forget, despite this, to maintain a civil attitude on the pavement. And you know, it’s no fable when I said the vehicle is once-upon-a-time, with the ability to drive either in rear-wheel with base, LX and EX trims, or as a four-wheel drive LX or EX trim.

The Sorento is a traditional body-on-frame SUV with a fully boxed chassis, a live-axle rear suspension, and optional four-wheel drive with a conventional two speed transfer case. All this adds up to a rugged package designed for the demands of serious off-road driving. Despite the uncomfortability of the ride, the SUV still offers good acceleration for its class.

The 3.3-liter V6 engine makes 242 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque, while the 3.8-liter V6 makes 262 horsepower and 260 pound-feet torques boosting its towing capacity from 3,500 to 5,000 pounds and beating some top brands to it and specifically having a close run with Ford Explorer at 5,210 pounds.

Economically, the Sorento’s larger 3.8-liter engine should net 15/21 city/highway miles per gallon respectively, while 15/22 city/highway with the 3.3-liter engine. And if it’s the speed of the then horse makes you green, Sorento is a good option. The engine has a definite throb upon hard acceleration.

The body roll around corners is minimal, overall, cornering performance is good. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and two types of four wheels are available as mentioned earlier, and the optional 4WD is well recommended for its “all-surface convenience” just as its gravel road prowess is quite satisfying. And just like horses in the once-upon-a-time scenario, the brakes offer good stopping control. But it is worthy preparing your mind to the fact that the Kia’s soft suspension displays more front-end dive and rear squat than is comfortable during harder acceleration and braking. Although the goodwill of Kia in making the wheel light to handle is well appreciated but then, it is too loose for a vehicle this quick and sporty. I think it is over assisted. But above all, Kia Sorento has a reasonable off-road capability.

The Sorento is sleek and modern without looking goofy. The mid-sized vehicle’s resemblance to an upscale SUV makes it equally adept at shuttling business clients as it is the kids and family. It also ranks in the top half of its class and earns praise for interior quality, spaciousness and an upscale feel. Its interior is tasteful and, for the most part, well-made. The five passenger cabin provides good head-room and leg-room, yet allows a fairly large cargo area behind. The gray leather seemed well-made, and the glove box and sliding sunroof door felt solid and durable.

With a new centre fascia, gauge cluster and floor console, the 2008 Sorento boasts tasteful use of wood and metal trim materials. Kia takes care not to have the conventional boring steering wheel by mounting audio controls conveniently on it, while the dashboard boasts of a well lit, clearly marked, and conveniently located climate controls. The Sorento also incorporates enough cupholders; two in the front centre console and four in the back seat, including over-sized holders in each rear door. While garnishing the whole design with a bright chrome door handles and handles on the ashtrays.

Accidents happen. The 2008 Sorento passed extremely in crash tests. With top five-stars scores stamped vividly on its chest for both the driver and passenger in frontal crash tests, the safety of its occupants is ensured. The 2WD model gets a three-star rollover rating, while the 4WD model gets four stars. However, the Sorento gets the lowest possible rating of “Poor” in side impact tests, a much lower score than other mid-size SUVs. But the machine compensated for faring much better than most others in its rear protection, for which it receives a top score of “Good.”

Its standard features include dual front advance air-bags and full length side curtain air-bags. Under the wheel, a kneel air-bags helps prevent drivers from sliding under the belt in a frontal collision, in addition to an energy-absorbing steering column that helps cushion the initial blow to the driver’s chest.

Kia, considering the foregoing, records another global commitment in surpassing customer expectations through continuous automotive innovation. Indeed, Kia Motor Corporation has the power to surprise!


Nigerians now seem to prefer new cars to used ones a FORTUNE&CLASS Weekly survey has shown. A snap survey conducted by the magazine’s correspondents across new cars dealers shows that there is a strong demand for new cars, especially, the Japanese and Korean brands.

Most intending buyers are now placed on waiting list. FORTUNE&CLASS correspondents explained that demand is now high that customers can’t just walk into a dealers shop to pay and drive off with a car. “It takes an average one month or more to get a car after a commitment to buy is made to the dealers.” One of our correspondents that conducted the survey said.

Three brand names are reported to be in high demand; Toyota, Kia and Hyundai. Giving reason for the demand pile up for these brands, a marketing manager with a popular Toyota sales outlet said the desire by Nigerians to acquire new vehicle may not be unconnected with the long term financing provided by banks.

“The five years vehicle repayment plan on a 10 per cent down payment being spearheaded by First Bank Plc has created a new demand push for new cars.” An official of a car dealership said.

The emerging preference for new cars is in sharp contrast to the choices of Nigerian car owners until three years ago when most intending vehicle buyers would rather buy second hand vehicles, this, in fact, gave impetus to the thriving ports in Benin Republic, Nigeria’s neighbouring country, from where the second hand cars known as Tokunbo are smuggled into Nigeria through bush paths and unmanned border points.

Kia Picanto: Girls, Girls and Girls

Imagine driving along one of the most spectacular ocean roads in Lagos; the 3rd Mainland Bridge: a bridge that links the Lagos Mainland to the high rise strewn section of the Centre of Excellence. When there is no traffic snarl on the bridge the scenery can be charming but the experience won’t be complete if you are not driving a Kia Picanto mini-car.

The 4 cylinder SOHC mini, housing 12 valves in its brain, takes the speed with an equated horse power of 61bhp at 5, 600 revolutions in one minute having a force of 836.3Nm to create a motion at 2900rpm. Having its 0-60mph pegged at 16.4 second, the engine really needs to be worked hard at, for overtaking or entering motorways from sliproads is a leap of faith. Although, this type of engine makes the 1.1-litre Picanto economical and nimble having 55.5mpg as its combined figure, the engine needs to be worked hard to maintain motorway cruise.

Aside creating a petite impression, it’s pleasing to know that the car comes with pleasantries that come with big cars; talking of the power steering, remote central locking and an alarm. Only at speed are some deficiencies in the Picanto’s chassis displayed; too much body roll and vague steering means it’s not up with the class leaders.

By being selfish in giving out all the goodies, I mean, withholding one which I am not quiet sure if it is an advantage or disadvantage. Or better still, maybe, I should call it an incomplete evolution of the mini, even though Kia PR department thinks otherwise, is the rationality of having just the front windows automatic, while leaving the back one manual.

It’s a pleasurable ride though when it comes to handling of the petite machine. It’s quite a worthy carrier to get around town with, especially, in the Lagos ever busy traffic laden roads. The ride is good, and it’s small enough to slip through gaps in traffic. Besides, the mini is one of the easiest to park vehicles, even when the park is filled!

Don’t be deceived by the exterior smallish size. Kia’s last born has an interior ambience for the tallest occupant. The volume of the boot supports a 220 litre of luggage though the shape compromised the amount that could be squeezed in, but gives you 800 litres of room with the seats folded.

The spec model you want determines what your Picanto offers, from alloy wheels, steel wheels, Instant Mobility system (TIS), CD & MP3 players, 4 speaker system, AUX, USB & iPod port (inc connecting cable) and so much more.

However, the little beauty doesn’t come without its own disadvantages, but if you are hooked with the price tag, then, other shortcomings could be forgiven. Unusual of a mini, the Picanto doesn’t have a spare; instead, it comes with TIS which is essentially a bottle of resin and a compressor to patch the tyre up to get you home. The minus is that the tyre can’t be repaired, but must be replaced. Do you still think it’s cheap!

In terms of reliability, the hatchback still enjoys the parent’s reputation in building the most reliable cars. Baby Picanto feels more solid than some other cars in its class, the build quality seems good. But with a clause on safety, the Picanto did badly in the crash test, only doing just enough to merit its three star rating. However, it is a big relief that the child occupant is well protected, where the parents are not too lucky, and also scoring poor in the pedestrians protection. The Picanto comes with ABS and two front air bags as standard, so it meets the standard you expect of a car this price

But, all in all, everything about the car speaks girls, girls, and girls! If nothing else, Kia Motors wins their hearts. With a name like Picanto, derived from the French word ‘piquant’ meaning ‘spicy’ and ‘Canto’ meaning ‘song,’ I might not be too off the mark if I say it is a great little car for them girls!