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First Drive

2015 Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi review

Kia is looking to improve refinement, comfort and practicality with its third-generation Sorento. Is it a compelling rival to the Hyundai Santa Fe and a cut-price rival to Volvo’s all-new XC90? We find out.

Words By Nigel Donnelly

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There are lots of changes for the all-new third generation Kia Sorento, but the headlines are freshened-up styling, chassis and steering tweaks and a more upmarket cabin. You now have seven-seats as standard, too.

Has anything stayed the same? Well, the Sorento's spacious interior remains, and the previous-generation car's 2.2-litre diesel engine and gearboxes are carried across. The new car still gets Kia’s class-leading seven-year warranty.

We've driven the 2.2 CRDi diesel automatic in KX4 trim.

What’s the 2015 Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi inside?

While the changes to the exterior are fairly subtle, the cabin makeover is far more significant. Kia has worked hard to improved to perception of quality, for example. So, where the previous car felt well-made but unappealing, the new model is thoughtfully designed and filled with high-quality plastics throughout.

Our Korean test car was roughly equivalent to a top-end KX4 model, which means full-electric adjustment of the comfortable leather seats for driver and front passenger. Even with the full-length glass sunroof option, headroom is fine for six-footers in the front.

The dashboard is a stylish affair, made from squishy plastics which look and feel surprisingly upmarket. There is still a reasonable amount of button clutter, particularly on the steering wheel, but the 8.0-inch touch-screen is at least logical to navigate, and the heating controls are simple to use.

Farther back, the middle row of seats benefit from a completely flat floor, which helps make the middle seat as comfortable as possible. There isn't quite as much headroom as in the front, but there is still enough for six-foot adults.

Legroom is variable because the middle row of seats slides, but even in its farthest forward position taller folk will be comfortable as long as there isn't a similarly lank person sitting in front of them.

The rearmost row of seats folds flat into the boot floor easily, and can be raised again just as simply. Access isn't too bad, and passengers have reasonable headroom when back there, although very tall adults will have to stoop a little. Legroom is dependent on how far back the middle row of seats is.

There is some trinket storage back there, too, and ventilation controls so people in the very back can ensure they don’t get too stuffy.

Even with the back row of seats in use, there is a usable boot space and dedicated storage for the parcel shelf beneath the boot floor.

What’s the 2015 Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi like to drive?

Kia has gone to a lot of effort to improve the Sorento's refinement over the second-generation car and the results are immediately noticable. Less engine noise filters into the cabin both at idle and at all speeds.

Performance from the 2.2-litre diesel engine is eager enough and the six-speed automatic gearbox fitted to our test car went about its business smoothly enough.

There are three driving modes to choose from, each of which alter the weight of the steering and the gearbox shift characteristics. The Sport mode makes the gearbox more eager to change down and weights up the steering, while the Eco mode ensures engine speeds are kept lower and downchanges minimised to ensure the best economy. Stop-start is standard on all models.

Regardless of setting, the steering has considerably more weight than that of the previous model and generally feels more connected to the front wheels.

The Sorento now rides better than it ever has, too. Minor road imperfections are soaked up easily, while even bigger obstacles and potholes don’t thump through the cabin. The suspension does an impressive job of keeping things in order.

It also controls the Sorento’s bulk well enough over dips and crests. Head into a corner a little too quick, and the body will sway noticeably, which is comfortable for passengers. Driven more sedately, however, the Sorento is agile enough.

Lane departure warning, blind-spot detection, external cameras, adaptive cruise control, speed limit detection and a host of other safety and security options are available, although it isn't confirmed which trim levels will get them in the UK.

Should I buy one?

Without confirmed pricing it's impossible to give a full recommendation. Plainly, however, the new Sorento is a huge improvement over the car it replaces.

Criticisms of the old car centred mainly around its iffy on-road manners and a low-rent cabin, whereas this new model is surprisingly good to drive and much smarter inside.

So, providing the inevitable price rises are kept sensible and Kia’s generally generous approach to standard kit is maintained, the Sorento should be a very hard seven-seat SUV to ignore.

What Car? says...

Rivals

Hyundai Santa Fe
Nissan X-Trail

2015 Kia Sorento

Engine size 2.2-litre diesel

Price from Β£29,000 (est)

Power 197bhp

Torque 325lb ft

0-62mph na

Top speed na

Fuel economy na

CO2 na