Kia Sorento: car review

Posted on February 28th, 2013 by James Luckhurst

A practical, powerful and well equipped seven-seat 4×4.

Kia Sorento: car review

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What is it?
The new Kia Sorento may look like a mid-life facelift, but there are significant changes under the skin. This SUV is much improved.

How safe is it?
The previous version earned five stars from crash-test experts, Euro NCAP, and the new Sorento has a stiffer structure, so should be safer still.

Who should buy one?
If you want a seven-seat 4×4 but don’t want to pay the kind of money an Audi, BMW or Land Rover dealer would ask, the Kia Sorento deserves your consideration.


Our review: Good Motoring, Spring 2013

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Kia Sorento: car review
There’s just the one engine, a 2.2-litre diesel. Changes for the new Sorento have focused on improving economy and cutting emissions rather than adding more performance, but with 194bhp and 311lb ft of torque there was little need for reinforcements under the bonnet. There’s plenty of brawn for determined, decisive overtaking.

Under the skin the new Kia Sorento is closely related to the Hyundai Santa Fe (both car makers share the same parent company). However, despite close similarities in the oily bits you can’t see both brands have been able to pursue their own path in developing the cars.

It’s always hard to compare cars driven weeks apart on different roads, but we’d say the Kia has a more comfortable ride than the Hyundai at the expense of a less taut feel when getting a move on. That’s not to say the new Sorento is sloppy to drive – far from it. But it’s clear that driving pleasure is less of a priority with the big Kia than, say, a BMW X3.

The suspension certainly feels better controlled than that of the previous generation, which bodes well for anyone with a horsebox or caravan to tow. The Sorento has long been popular with caravanners in particular, who will be pleased to discover that all but the entry-level KX-1 model have self-levelling suspension as standard.

So far we’ve only had the opportunity to drive the six-speed automatic. It changes gear smoothly, although it can be a little slow to grab a lower ratio when you put your foot down. There is a manual override if you want to take charge for yourself. It’s worth noting that if you choose the automatic the towing limit is 2000kg, which is 500kg lower than the manual’s maximum.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Kia Sorento: car review
The old Sorento was a practical car, and the new Kia improves on that benchmark. The company claims there’s some 30mm extra legroom for second row passengers and a further 9mm for those in the third row.

Unsurprisingly, cabin space is essentially on a par with the Hyundai Santa Fe, but the two interiors have different strengths and weaknesses. The Sorento allows the middle row to tip out of the way to give easy access to the third row. In the Santa Fe this feature is missing, but the middle seats slide back and forth instead.

Like most seven-seaters, luggage space in the Sorento is tight if every seat is occupied. If you’re determined to take the whole clan with you for a weekly shop, it won’t take long to fill 116 litres. However, with the third row folded into the floor there’s a useful 515 litres, rising to 1530 litres with every seat stowed away.

Up front, the driver and front seat passenger have plenty of space and the driving position is high, commanding and comfortable.

SAFETY
Kia Sorento: car review
The headline news is the fitment of a pop-up bonnet which lifts up in a collision with a pedestrian to keep them away from the engine.

Check the brochure and you’ll also find an alphabet-soup of safety acronyms. ESC (Electronic Stability Control), VSM (Vehicle Stability Management), EBD (Electronic Brake-force Distribution) and ESS (Emergency Stop Signal) are all standard, as are six airbags and active head restraints to minimise whiplash injuries.

EQUIPMENT
Kia Sorento: car review
Even the most basic KX-1 models come with a long list of kit. Front and rear fog lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, dual-zone air conditioning, reversing sensors and Bluetooth connectivity are among the highlights.

KX-2 models add rain-sensing wipers, leather upholstery, a reversing camera and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that KX-2 Sat Nav spec adds – you’ve guessed it – sat nav. This version also has an uprated stereo with 10 speakers.

Choose a top-spec KX-3 for 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights and a Panoramic sunroof, among other upgrades.

COSTS
Kia Sorento: car review
Today’s Sorento can’t match the conspicuous good value of the first generation car, but the prices aren’t unreasonable when you consider how much kit comes as standard. The KX-1 costs £26,495 rising to £36,095 for the KX-3 automatic.

The Sorento’s economy figures are solid rather than class-leading. Manual cars achieve 47.9mpg and emit 155g/km, putting the car in VED Band G. The automatics return 42.2mpg (41.5mpg for the KX-3) and emit 175g/km (178g/km for the KX-3).

WE SAY
A practical, powerful and well equipped seven-seat 4×4.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £28,895
Performance: 0-60mph in 9.4 seconds
Economy: 47.9mpg combined
Insurance: 21
Tax: Band G (£170)
Figures for the 2.2 CRDi KX-2 manual