Motoring review: Kia Sorento

The new Sorento is longer, lower and slightly wider – which make earlier models dumpy by comparison

The new Sorento is longer, lower and slightly wider – which make earlier models dumpy by comparison - Credit: Archant

Kia has made its name creating value, peace-of-mind motoring. Now the new Sorento is targeting the premium SUV market, but it’s still great value, says motoring editor Andy Russell

The interior has a quality feel

The interior has a quality feel - Credit: Archant

First impressions

If you haven’t been in a Kia recently, or ever, you are in for a big surprise and a pleasant one with the third-generation Sorento. That was the case when a BMW owner along with myself first saw the Korean brand’s new flagship sport utility vehicle. That bodes well, for the Sorento is the next stage of Kia’s transformation from purely value-driven to premium quality. The BMW owner liked the sleek, stylish lines – the new Sorento is longer, lower and slightly wider, which makes earlier models dumpy by comparison - and he was equally impressed by the upmarket cabin with classy touches and attention to detail.

But, as he pointed out, Kia’s top model will have a hefty price tag. Wrong. This was one-up-from-entry, loaded with kit, not a single option and £31,995 on the road.

Under the bonnet

No options here either, just a single uprated 197bhp version of the 2.2-litre turbo diesel– the only choice is manual or automatic, both six-speed gearboxes. With a healthy slug of low-down pull and punchy mid-range performance for strong overtaking oomph why would you want anything more?

Not having to work the engine hard helps fuel economy and, while short of the claimed figures, a worst of 36mpg and best of 43mpg fully load wasn’t bad.

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Driving appeal

Revised suspension improves ride quality and roadholding and, on the whole, it does a good job. You are aware of what is going on beneath the tyres with some buzz over poor surfaces but even on half-decent road it is composed and comfortable – not bad given the big wheels and beefy suspension to cope with some off-road work.

All-wheel drive is standard and, in normal use, puts power to the front wheels to aid MPG but will automatically switch up to 40 per cent to the rear for better grip, cornering and stability. It can also be locked in a 50/50 split at up to 25mph if venturing off-road.

For a big car, it drives well – tidy through corners with body roll in check at speed but you’ll probably want to keep the power steering in Sport not Normal mode for added feel and feedback. The Sorento has a good turning circle making it easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces.

Space and comfort

One big attraction, and when it comes to interior space big is the order of the day, is that the Sorento comes with seven seats as standard – and all accessible to adults, although those in the rearmost ones should be the smallest and most supple. The nearside seat of the 40/20/40 split middle row slides forward for access. The rearmost 50/50 third row seats are ideal for short trips but best for children and those with short legs for long journeys. In seven-seat mode there’s 142 litres of load space – enough for a decent supermarket shop or stacking up holdalls. Underfloor storage will also take the roller tonneau cover when not needed.

Drop the third row seats into the boot floor and slide the middle row seats fully forward to eat into the abundant rear legroom and you’ve got a huge 605-litre boot but the load floor is quite high – a downside of high ground clearance.

At the wheel

The classy fascia builds on the impression created by the stylish exterior with a clear instrument display dominated by a big speedo, seven-inch infotainment touchscreen and a heating and ventilation system with big buttons and rotary controls that are easy to use on the move.

The driver’s seat and steering wheel have plenty of adjustment to get comfortable but the passenger seat is rather low and could not be raised.

Soft-touch plastics abound in all the important contact areas which add to the perceived quality, along with tasteful brightwork highlights.

Value and kit

Less is more with the Sorento. The KX-2 model, second of four trim levels, does the job with standard highlights including leather upholstery, cruise control and speed limiter, DAB radio, sat-nav, reversing sensors and camera, front and rear fog lights and a wealth of safety and surprise-and-delight features. Most people would be hard-pressed to justify paying more for KX-3 or 4.

Final say

Looking for a sensibly-priced four-wheel drive sport utility that can carry seven, drives well and is loaded with creature comforts? Don’t overlook the Sorento. Do all the sums and the Sorento, especially in lower trim levels, appeals to the head and the heart.

Fact file

Price: Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDI KX-2 manual £31,995 (range £28,795 to £41,575)

Engine: 2,199cc, 197bhp, four-cylinder turbo diesel

Performance: 0-62mph 9 seconds; top speed 124mph

MPG: Urban 37.2; extra urban 53.3; combined 46.3

CO2 emissions: 161g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 30 per cent

Insurance group: 25 (out of 50)

Warranty: Seven years or 100,000 miles

Size? L 4,780mm; W 1,890mm; H 1,685mm

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