Kia Sorento long-term test

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 hybrid 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 commutes, have good access for my octogenarian parents and be economical on frequent short local trips

Mileage 2626 List price £39,350 Target price £37,728 Price as tested £39,505 Test economy 38.6mpg Official economy 40.9mpg Options fitted Premium Paint £660 Dealer price now £35,944 Private price now £31,951 Trade-in price now £32,472 Running costs £327.25

5 August 2021 – A car that’s made a big impression on me 

You might think seven-seat SUVs are best suited to people with large families, but even though my children are grown up, I’ve found the Kia Sorento a really useful vehicle to have around. It’s easy to fold the second and third row seats flat, and once you’ve done so there’s more space than you’ll find in some vans

In my time with it, the Sorento has swallowed all manner of big and bulky items, including an assortment of chairs, a set of garden furniture, a wood chipper and some lengths of 8ft by 4ft trellis, all without a struggle. Instead of paying to have large items delivered or to have unwanted furniture collected, I’ve simply loaded them into the Sorento, which has proved big enough for everything.

Kia Sorento long termer

There’s more to the Sorento than sheer space, though. It has also provided excellent transport for my parents because of its tall, wide-opening rear doors and relatively low sills that make it easy for them to get in and out. 

I’ve also found it fascinating to see if I can make the most of the Sorento's traditional hybrid technology. It's powered by an electric motor up to around 16mph, and at higher speeds too if the engine load is low enough.

A green EV indicator lights up on the dash when the car is running purely on electric power, and if I’m gentle enough with the accelerator while driving at motorway speeds, I can get the green light to come on for large parts of long journeys. On one 120-mile round trip through Kent, I managed to achieve 45mpg, which is nearly 4mpg better than the official overall economy figure of 40.9pmg. 

Kia Sorento long termer

The car’s weight – and the need to use the petrol engine a fair bit on my frequent A-road drives – has meant I’ve not quite managed to achieve the official economy figure overall, but I think just over two mpg shy of it is impressive nonetheless.

The only complaint I have is that the engine can be hesitant when pulling away at junctions if you leave the car in the Eco driving mode, which is the default setting. I’ve found that switching to the Smart setting ensures better progress around town, even if it does slightly dent the fuel economy.  

Kia Sorento 2022 interior detail

The Sorento is also a comfortable vehicle, with a big, supportive driver’s seat and a forgiving ride. I’m glad I chose 2 trim because I think its standard 17in tyres are better at soaking up most of the bumps from poor road surfaces than the 19in tyres that are standard on 3 and 4 trim versions.

Priced at just under £40,000 – and significantly less with our Target Price discounts – the Sorento looks expensive compared with mainstream rivals, such as the Peugeot 5008 and Mazda CX-5. However, the cheapest versions of those cars are two-wheel drive and have manual gearboxes, neither of which are available as options on the Sorento. Some buyers will be happy with the lower-priced alternatives, but living in a semi-rural location, I value the added security of four-wheel drive. 

Kia Sorento long termer

The Sorento’s sophisticated Terrain system lets the driver select from three different off-road options: Mud, Snow and Sand. It then automatically optimises the car for the specific conditions, adjusting the engine’s pulling power, the timing of gear changes, the distribution of power between the wheels and the strength of the stability control. 

I’ve tried out the Mud and Sand settings on local tracks and unmade roads in a range of conditions, from totally sodden to dry and dusty, and found that they both enhance the car’s ability to maintain grip and make smooth progress.

Overall, it’s the combination of plus points I’ve discovered on the Sorento that make it clear why it’s our top-rated large SUV. It’s vast on the inside, has a frugal yet punchy engine, a comfortable ride and the back-up of all-wheel drive. I’m going to miss its practicality and versatility now that it’s gone. 

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