The sole engine available is a 197bhp 2.2-litre diesel. It isn’t especially flexible by modern standards, but is punchy enough as long as you keep the revs between 2000 and 3500rpm; do this and the Sorento is comfortable climbing steep inclines and overtaking on fast country roads. Performance is a bit flat at low revs, but the Sorento is faster than rivals such as the Nissan X-Trail and Land Rover Discovery Sport.
In addition to four-wheel drive, a six-speed manual gearbox is standard on every version. This has well-spaced ratios, but the shift is rather long and notchy, so we prefer the optional six-speed automatic, which better suits the Sorento’s relaxed nature. It can be a bit unresponsive when you want to accelerate quickly, however.
Manual versions have a quoted towing limit of 2500kg, while autos are still good, at 2000kg.
Kia Sorento ride comfort
While some rival manufacturers seem hell-bent on trying to inject sporty handling into their large SUVs, Kia has concentrated on what matters most to family buyers: a comfortable ride. The results are generally impressive, because the Sorento’s relatively soft suspension soaks up bigger obstacles, such as speed bumps, very well indeed, and the car also lopes along smoothly on the motorway.
Things are more unsettled around town – particularly in the range-toping KX-4 version, which rides on chunky 19in alloys – but a relatively stiff body stops sharp-edged ruts and potholes sending too many shudders through the car.
Kia Sorento handling
In order to achieve its comfortable ride, the Kia Sorento sacrifices agility. Its body leans over quite a bit in corners, even at fairly moderate speeds. It never lurches around in an uncontrolled fashion, but a Skoda Kodiaq or a Land Rover Discovery Sport are much more nimble.
The Sorento's steering is also vague and inconsistently weighted, so you’re never sure exactly how the front tyres are fairing. At least the steering is light enough to make parking easy.
Kia Sorento refinement
Unless you rev the engine hard, you’re barely bothered by the noise it makes. Likewise, you only feel vibrations through the steering wheel and pedals when you put your foot right to the floor.
You do hear the sound of wind rushing past the chunky door mirrors, though. There’s also some road noise – particularly on versions with 19in wheels.
Ultimately, the Sorento is a more refined choice than many of its seven-seat rivals, including the Nissan X-Trail, but not as hushed as some similarly sized five-seat SUVs, such as the Audi Q5.
The only engine available is a 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel that is perfectly up to the job of powering the Sorento when it’s full of people and luggage. It’s a bit clattery compared with the smoothest diesels, but you rarely have to rev it hard thanks to its muscular mid-range. Depending which trim you go for, you can choose between a manual and an automatic gearbox.