The Sorento’s 194bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine is strong and flexible, so it can haul you and your family along swiftly. The optional six-speed automatic gearbox (we haven’t tried the manual yet) is another plus point, because it’s smooth and isn’t overeager to change down when you just want to build speed gently.
The Sorento is a big car and it feels it. Grip levels are reasonable, but you can feel the car’s bulk shifting around on twisty country roads and the steering isn’t especially responsive. The ride isn’t great, either, because it’s fidgety and unsettled too much of the time. It should be noted, though, that we’ve only tried the range-topping version on big wheels so far.
The Sorento’s big door mirrors generate some wind noise on the motorway, and the suspension can be heard drumming over bumps. The diesel engine is pretty refined, though; it rarely needs to be worked hard, but is smooth and fairly hushed even when you do so. We’ve yet to try the manual gearbox, but the auto version swaps ratios smoothly enough.
The Sorento is reasonably cheap compared with other seven-seat SUVs, although resale values aren’t a match for those of the class leaders. Fuel economy and CO2 emissions are par for the course, but Kia’s seven-year warranty is something none of its rivals offer.
Where many of the Sorento’s rivals have cabins filled with plush, soft-touch plastics, the Kia’s are unappealingly hard. Everything feels sturdy and well put together, however. Kia’s reliability record is pretty so-so, but there’s the back-up of that seven-year warranty if things do go wrong.
Front-seat occupants are protected by front and side airbags, while window airbags run the full length of the cabin. Stability control is also standard across the range, and the Sorento scored a maximum five-star rating in Euro NACP crash tests. Deadlocks, an alarm and an immobiliser make life difficult for thieves.
Most of the dashboard controls are sensibly laid out and the high-set driving position gives a commanding view of the road. The steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake to help the driver get comfortable. However, the system for adjusting the angle of the seat back is fiddly and imprecise on versions without electric seats.
All Sorentos have seven seats, but the two right at the back aren’t exactly spacious and they’re not that easy to access. They’re fine for shorter adults and kids, though, and there’s plenty of head- and legroom in the other five. When you need to carry lots of luggage, the rearmost seats fold into the boot floor to give a huge loadbay.
Entry-level KX-1 models come with alloy wheels, front and rear electric windows, air-conditioning, cruise control and automatic headlights. Meanwhile, pricier KX-2 versions add heated leather seats, privacy glass and rain-sensing wipers. The range-topping KX-3 has larger alloys, Xenon headlights, a panoramic glass roof, electric seats and sat-nav.
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