Kia Sorento long-term test: report 3

The Kia Sorento fought off some prestigious rivals to be voted Large SUV of the Year at the 2021 What Car? Awards, but does it continue to impress when you live with it every day?...

Kia Sorento long termer

The car Kia Sorento 1.6 HEV T-GDi Auto AWD 2 Run by Claire Evans, consumer editor

Why it’s here The Sorento impressed our road testers so much that we voted it our Large SUV of the Year, but what’s it like for an extended family to live with? 

Needs to Be a relaxing cruiser for occasional motorway commute, have good access for my octogenarian parents and be economical on frequent short local trips

Mileage 2450 List price £39,110 Target price £37,489 Price as tested £39,505 Test economy 37.7mpg Official economy 40.9mpg Options fitted Premium Paint £660

25 June 2021 – Making the most of hybrid tech 

In the past few weeks I’ve been better educating myself about hybrid technology, and, in particular, the way it works on my Kia Sorento. And I've been using that information to improve the fuel efficiency I’m getting from my large SUV

Kia Sorento long termer

The basics are that the car uses the electric motor when you pull away and up to around 16mph, as long as you’re not too heavy on the accelerator. That should make it really economical for use around town. Then, when you’re accelerating, it generally uses the engine and electric motor together to provide optimum power; for high speed cruising it switches to engine power alone, and when you’re decelerating it switches the engine off and uses regenerative braking to replenish the hybrid battery pack. You can change this, though, using the Sorento's different modes, which will maximise either electric or engine use depending on your preference.

There’s a large dial on the dash that shows me when the car is charging, when it’s being driven in an eco-friendly way and when it’s using the maximum amount of power. There’s also a small green EV mode indicator that tells me when the petrol engine has been switched off and the car is running on electric power alone. This only comes on when you’re in the charging or lower eco sectors of the dial. 

Kia Sorento long termer

On a recent 100-mile motorway drive to Canterbury I found that, if I was gentle on the accelerator, I could get the Sorento to switch to EV mode for much of the time, even when cruising at 70mph. The benefit of this became apparent when I brimmed the fuel tank the following day and found that I’d managed to achieve 45mpg on that trip, which is nearly 4mpg better than the official overall economy figure. 

That same trip also confirmed just how cavernous the Sorento is; I was collecting my daughter from university and, once we’d folded the big Kia’s second and third rows of seats down, we were easily able to pack in everything that she’d spent months accumulating in her small student flat. 

kia sorento long termer

Both fully laden and empty, the Sorento was eminently comfortable on the motorway. The suspension is forgiving and the tyres of my 2 trim car (with 17in alloy wheels as standard) are adept at soaking up most potholes and poor road surfaces; the larger wheels you get with 3 or 4 trim can cause the Sorento to fidget over broken Tarmac. In my Sorento, there’s even every little difference in ride and road noise when you’re driving over the concrete sections of some motorways, which can make some cars unbearably noisy and jittery. 

The only limiting factor that became apparent while driving around the ancient city of Canterbury was that the Sorento was a little large for some of the narrower lanes, so we did most of our travelling around the city on foot. That said, I did manage to squeeze it onto Beer Cart Lane for a quick photo opportunity outside The Chaucer Bookshop, a beautiful 18th-century building that has a wide range of books including, as you’d expect, The Canterbury Tales. 

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