THE all-new Kia Sorento is the Korean manufacturer’s largest SUV and offers 7-seats and 4-wheel-drive as standard along with an impressive amount of space and comfort for larger families.
Kia like to keep things simple when it comes to trim levels, so you get just three, well-specified versions: ‘2’, ‘3’ and the range-topping ‘4’.
All three are available as a self-charging hybrid with a 1.6 turbo petrol engine and 44.2kW electric motor providing a total output of 226bhp and around 41mpg. Transmission is via a 6-speed automatic box. You can expect a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) Sorento very soon.
The mid-spec ‘3’ is also available with a 2.2 diesel unit mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission which has 199bhp on tap and is capable of around 43mpg. Significantly, this combination produces a whopping 440Nm of torque, as opposed to 265Nm for the petrol/electric, meaning those customers needing maximum towing-capability can still take advantage of everything the new Kia Sorento has to offer.
And this new 4th generation model does have a lot to offer: There is a new digital cockpit fitted as standard on all versions, while ‘3’ and ‘4’ versions get a large 10.25in touchscreen.
The exterior is markedly more rugged-looking than the previous model with a large front grille that still has the trademark tiger-nose look, but now less obvious as it merges into the narrow headlight arrays on both sides.
The rear is sharper too with vertical light clusters, reminiscent of the Sorento’s American cousin, the Telluride. All-in-all the new Sorento really looks the part – less rounded and more statesman-like than the previous model.
And it’s not just the outside that has a more premium look; take a look inside the new Sorento and you could believe you were looking at the inside of much more expensive, upmarket German product.
The dash has an unapologetic Mercedes-style look to it with the new digital dash flowing into that large touchscreen with soft-touch, textured materials around it. Large air-vents sit below, with climate controls between. All trimmed in chrome and looking very classy indeed.
Admittedly, I’ve been driving the flagship ‘4’ model with leather upholstery which is awash with comfort and style but you don’t need to spend £46,945 to get a well-equipped Sorento – the entry-level ‘2’ costs just £38,845 OTR and you still get 7-seats, 4-wheel-drive, Hybrid technology and plenty of space both front and back with a class-leading luggage compartment of 608 litres. Fold down all rear seats and you get almost 2,000 litres.
Entry-level also gets you 17in alloys, Roof Rails, LED headlights, dual zone air-con, paddle-shifters, heated front seats and steering wheel, air-con for 3rd row of seats, 8in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, front and rear parking sensors and a Reversing Camera.
Active safety features are generous and include: Hill Start Assist, Forward Collision Avoidance, Lane Follow Assist and Multi-Collision Brake Assist. You also get Terrain Mode select which includes Mud, Snow and Sand.
With a multi-adjustable driver’s seat and steering wheel, it’s easy to get comfortable up front and you’ll find visibility all round is good for such a large vehicle.
Rear passengers benefit from the new Sorento’s longer wheelbase with plenty of legroom for 3 adults and generous headroom.
The two rear-most seats are a little awkward to get into – just as they are in other 7-seater SUVs – but smaller children won’t have a problem and once in there it’s comfortable enough. Adults would be fine too, for shorter journeys only though. The middle row can slide forwarded to give extra leg room to those in the rear and everyone gets their own USB charging point – so that’s one less argument to endure.
Out on the road you’ll find the new Sorento is built for comfort rather than speed – exactly what you need in a family load-lugger. Longer journeys are consumed with ease and that 4-wheel-drive system means you’ll feel extra-confident if the weather turns nasty.
You’ll find the Kia Sorento has enough in its dynamic range to make trapping along pleasant enough. This is the first Sorento to use a monocoque design rather than the old ladder-frame chassis. Heavily-revised independent suspension also helps to make the Sorento pliant over the rougher surfaces without being jarring when you hit the bigger potholes.
Around town you can’t get away from the size of the new Sorento – along tight suburban streets it feels wide – but good all-round visibility from that high driving position means this isn’t a problem and the steering is sufficiently light, with a better than expected turning circle.
Driving aids, including a rear reversing camera, help to make the Sorento city-friendly but it’s on the motorway where the car is most at home. Quiet and refined, even at 70mph, the Sorento may not match the serenity of the Land Rover Discovery but it’s very close and a hell of a lot cheaper.
Body-roll is well within comfort levels – even for the kids in the back – while the auto gearbox adds to the feeling of refinement by providing smooth and intelligent gear changes.
It’s difficult to find fault with the new Kia Sorento; Maybe the slightly “grabby” brakes are worth a mention but this is par for the course in most hybrid SUVs and is something you adjust to quite quickly anyway.
If you’re yet to be convinced that the Koreans can produce a car of quality and style that even comes close to the Germans – while still undercutting them considerably on price – then the new Kia Sorento may make you think again.
AT A GLANCE:
Kia Sorento ‘4’ 1.6 HEV T-GDi Auto AWD
OTR Price: £46,945
Engine: 1.6 petrol turbo
Power: 226 bhp
Transmission: 6-speed Automatic
0-62mph: 8.7 secs
Top Speed: 119 mph
Combined Economy: 38.2 mpg