Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The 1.6 T-GDi HEV (hybrid electric vehicle) packs a hefty 226bhp, but don’t get too excited; this is a very large car, remember, so 0-60mph takes an acceptable, but certainly not brisk, 8.7sec. The electric motor gives acceleration a welcome boost at low speeds, but ask for a significant uplift in pace and you’ll find the gearbox changes down a gear or two to let the petrol engine rev. The HEV can run on electricity alone, but only for very short distances at low speeds.
The 2.2 CRDi diesel doesn’t have quite as much power as the HEV, so 0-60mph takes a slightly longer 9.1sec. However, with even greater reserves of low-rev muscle – just what you need for towing or hauling around a full complement of passengers – it feels similarly urgent to the hybrid without needing to be revved anywhere near as hard. The automatic gearbox in both versions responds reasonably briskly, giving you confidence when pulling out of junctions or onto roundabouts.
Performance may be comparable with that of the punchiest versions of the Peugeot 5008, but the Audi Q5, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Skoda Kodiaq and are all available with more powerful engines that offer swifter acceleration. At least the diesel Sorento’s 2500kg maximum towing capacity should appeal to the towing community (the HEV’s 1650kg is nothing to write home about).
Suspension and ride comfort
Stick to the 17in wheels of 2 trim if you’re interested in comfort. While all versions of the Sorento impress at higher speeds, especially on the motorway, 2 trim does the best job of softening off crevices and pimples around town. It still isn’t as comfortable as a Discovery Sport or 5008 around town, though.
Crucially, should you want to avoid a messy interior, all versions of the Sorento control their body movements well along undulating country roads; you won’t get that floaty, wallowy feeling that’s liable to induce nausea in your passengers.
Jump up to 3 or 4 trim and the larger, 19in wheels cause the Sorento to fidget more over surface imperfections and thud over potholes. However, these models also get self-levelling rear suspension, which will be handy if you’re towing or carrying heavy loads.
Although the Sorento isn’t particularly nimble, it handles perfectly well for such a large, heavy car. Smaller-wheeled 2 models don’t have quite as much grip as higher-spec models on chunkier 19in wheels, although we doubt many prospective buyers will ever find this out.
You will notice that while the Sorento does a better job of propping itself up in bends than the roly-poly Discovery Sport, it doesn’t stay as level as an Audi Q5 or Seat Tarraco. More importantly, the Sorento’s reassuringly weighted steering allows you to confidently place the car where you want down any country road. Furthermore, it’s easy to twirl the wheel at town speeds.
Noise and vibration
Progress is predictably hushed in the HEV when running in all-electric mode, and the petrol engine also frequently shuts off when you’re slowing down. When the engine is running, you’ll find it remains hushed as long as you’re accelerating gently. Hard acceleration does reveal a coarse edge to the engine’s timbre, though. Unlike some other hybrids, the Sorento switches smoothly from electric to petrol power, while gearchanges aren’t too jerky.
The diesel’s gearbox swaps cogs even more adroitly, although the engine is predictably grumblier and sends a few more vibrations up through the steering wheel. You’ll also hear the suspension working away as it irons out bumps in the road, but tyre and wind noise aren’t too bothersome.
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