AJAC TestFest Category Winners. Click image to enlarge
Article by Justin Pritchard
Kia says that over 80 percent of the Sorento’s parts are new or redesigned for 2014 — including its powerplant, cabin and fascias. The redesign qualified the popular crossover model to compete in the Canadian Car of the Year (CCOTY) program, which saw it stacked against numerous new or heavily updated crossover and SUV models as part of an exhaustive, week-long testing exercise conducted by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).
The annual testing program, dubbed ‘TestFest’ and carried out as the core of the CCOTY program, saw the Sorento earn a 7-point lead, beating the Mercedes-Benz GLK 250, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Santa FE XL and GMC Acadia Denali for the win in its “SUV – CUV $35,000 – $60,000” category. The Sorento’s 647-point score was good for first, with the Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 BlueTEC 4MATIC coming in second place at 640 points, and the Hyundai Santa FE XL taking third with 638.
Each CCOTY vehicle testing category generates a single winner, like the Sorento — though no single factor earns a vehicle a category win. Rather, the category win goes to a model with the highest overall score after a back-to-back testing process sees a large panel of voting journalists drive every model in the category, one after the other, on the same day and under the same conditions. Journalist votes are combined with scoring for measured elements including fuel economy, cargo capacity, emissions, acceleration and braking. Further, each score is weighted for relevance in the vehicle’s testing category.
Testing of the “SUV/CUV $35,000 to $60,000” category saw the panel of voting journalists assign the Kia Sorento the highest scores for Driver Position and Ergonomics, Throttle Response and Engine Refinement. Interestingly, the Sorento also boasted the strongest acceleration figures in the category, beating all competitors in real-world, instrumented 0-100 km/h tests with an average time of 7.9 seconds. The 80-120 km/h acceleration test also saw the Sorento emerge with the strongest number, with an average time 5.9 seconds. Those acceleration figures are translated into a point score, which is weighted for relevance and applied to the model’s overall point count.
Subjective Value, another important area of voting, saw the Sorento take the top score of 7.7 as well, representing what the voting panel agree was the category’s best ‘bang for the buck’. Sorento also boasted among the top scores in the segment for Cargo Capacity, Visibility, Emissions and Ride Comfort.
Ultimately, the Sorento’s strong overall scoring, leading marks in several key areas, and $7,600 price advantage over its next-least-expensive competitor contributed to its strong showing in this year’s program. All scoring and voting data is available at www.ajac.ca, alongside tools for consumers to compare vote scores across a wide range of models and years.