Kia Sorento: road test

Posted on May 21st, 2015 by James Luckhurst

The Sorento is much improved, but not the bargain it used to be.

Kia Sorento: road test

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What is it?

The new Kia Sorento is the third generation of Kia’s big 4×4, promising more space, better fuel economy and a longer list of standard equipment.

How safe is it?

Very, according to Euro NCAP. The crash test experts have awarded the car five stars. Standard safety kit includes a pop-up ‘active’ bonnet to minimise pedestrian injuries.

Who should buy one?

Anyone looking for a 4×4 with seven seats and plenty of toys should consider the Sorento, but price rises mean you could buy a premium-badged 4×4 for similar money.

Road test by David Motton, published 21 May 2015

 

 

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Kia Sorento: road test

There’s a family resemblance between the new Sorento and the outgoing model, but don’t let that fool you. This is a very different car.

Ride comfort is much improved. Really sharp bumps can catch out the suspension, but the Sorento smoothes over most imperfections. Even with the big 19-inch alloy wheels fitted to high-spec cars the Kia is comfortable without ever seeming too soft or sloppy.
The steering is more direct and precise than before, especially with the Drive Mode Select feature set to ‘sport’, which backs off the power assistance to give a weightier feel at the wheel.

There’s no getting away from the Sorento’s size and weight, but it corners neatly and keeps body roll in check. This bodes well for stability when towing, something Kia says around half Sorento owners use their car for.

Although other engine options are available in some markets, all UK cars use a development of the existing 2.2-litre diesel, tweaked to produce 197bhp and 325lb ft of torque. The engine pulls with determination from low revs, and there’s real brawn in the middle of the rev range.

Kia has worked hard to make the new car quieter. The engine sounds muted and distant, and there’s little wind noise. Only road noise over coarse surfaces disturbs the peace.
Buyers have a choice of automatic or manual transmissions, both with six-forward gears. For the most part the auto changes gear smoothly, although it can’t match the unobtrusive shifts of the Land Rover Discovery Sport’s nine-speed auto. The Kia’s auto suits the relaxed but strong nature of the car, but it costs £1750 over the manual.

Every Sorento is four-wheel drive, but in normal driving all the power goes to the front wheels. If the front wheels start to slip up to 40 per cent of the engine’s power goes to the rear.

For serious off-roading the car can be locked in four-wheel drive, with power split 50/50 between the front and rear wheels.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Kia Sorento: road test

The new Sorento has more legroom in all three rows of seats. Tall adults will be comfortable in the second row, especially as the flat floor leaves plenty of room for everyone’s feet.

Reaching the third row is a bit of a clamber, but there enough space for adults so long as they don’t mind sitting close to the floor with their knees up high. The middle row is on runners, and those in seats six and seven will be more comfortable if the seats in front are slid forward a bit.

As well as more room for passengers, there’s greater space for luggage, too. With all seven seats upright there’s only enough room for a few shopping bags, but with third row folded into the floor there’s a capacity of 605 litres. That’s as big as many estate cars, and should cope with a family’s holiday luggage.

The interior is better finished as well as more practical, with soft-touch plastics and a modern, attractive design.

SAFETY
Kia Sorento: road test

The new Sorento has earned a five-star rating from the safety experts at Euro NCAP. All cars come with a long list of standard safety equipment, including six airbags, active head restraints to reduce whiplash injuries, and Trailer Stability Assist to help prevent snaking when towing a caravan or trailer. High-tech safety aids on top-spec cars include Rear Cross Traffic Alert, which warns reversing drivers if another vehicle is approaching from the side.

EQUIPMENT
Kia Sorento: road test

Even the most basic KX-1 model comes with air conditioning, all-round electric windows, 17-inch alloys and cruise control. Stepping up to KX-2 adds dual-zone climate control, 18-inch alloys, black leather upholstery, a seven-inch touchscreen satellite navigation system and plenty more. KX-3 spec is even more generous, and includes an eight-inch touchscreen and a panoramic sunroof. KX-4 cars have just about every gadget you can think of, and some you probably can’t.

COSTS

Kia Sorento: road test

Prices are up significantly compared with the old model. All but one version now costs more than £30,000, pitching the Kia against rivals with upmarket badges. Fuel economy varies depending on the size of the alloy wheels fitted and whether the car has a manual or an automatic gearbox. A manual Sorento on 17-inch alloys returns 49.6mpg and emits 149g/km of carbon dioxide, putting the car in Band F for Vehicle Excise Duty.

WE SAY

We say:
The Sorento is much improved, but not the bargain it used to be.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £31,995
Performance: 0-62mph in 9 seconds
Economy: 46.3mpg combined
Insurance: Group 25
Tax: Band G (£180 first year)

Figures for the KX-2 manual