If you need a family car with multiple seats then look no further than Kia’s Sorento, says our motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay.
Once known for being a low-budget marque, Kia has gone far beyond that and is contending with premium motors these days. That’s not hype – it’s reality. Just get behind the wheel of the seven-seat Kia Sorento and the car speaks for itself. The third-gen SUV is better kitted out, more sophisticated, and technologically superior than before. The car is longer, lower and broader, too, thanks to a reformed platform, while a longer wheelbase produces better space in all seats.
You will probably only be looking at this SUV if you have children, so, as a dad-of-three, I know safety will be at the front of your mind. Well, rest assured, because the Kia Sorento holds the top five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. Technologies to keep everyone as safe as possible include: Blind Spot Detection, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning System, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Speed Limit Information and Around View Monitoring.
Kia’s latest Sorento range is powered by a 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine, with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. All models are equipped with all-wheel drive and trim levels are simply named KX-1, KX-2, KX-3 and KX-4. I drove the mid-range KX-2 and slightly higher range KX-3. Both press cars came with the slick-changing manual transmission – and, if truth be told, it was hard to tell the two trim levels apart. That’s good news, though, because it shows how well the South Korean automaker now decks out its vehicles.
The Kia Sorento has soft-to-the-touch surfaces all the way through the cabin; however, the ‘elephant hide’ appearance of the dashboard material needs to be played down. That said; the seats come in fetching, dark leather, creating a stylish appearance. The standard-fit instrument cluster contains flawless white-on-black graphics, which deliver all the necessary information at a glance, but in the KX-3 version this is substituted for a seven-inch Thin Film Transistor display which adds an even more quality look to the dashboard.
Legroom has been boosted in all three rows of seats. The second-row slides forward, giving improved access to the two chairs in the back, which now offer enough room to take adults. Even better, the transmission tunnel has been totally removed, resulting in a flat floor for passengers’ feet. The load area is lengthier, too, and packing the boot is a cinch because of the Kia Sorento’s low-slung sill.
On the move, the 200PS engine has stacks of pull, with excellent driveability on road and in the rough. The latest Kia Sorento is a hushed and hi-tech diesel powered machine with zero to 62mph taking nine seconds with the manual gearbox. All versions of the Sorento have a respectable maximum speed of 124mph. Significantly, for a family vehicle, the new Kia Sorento has better fuel consumption and emissions than the pre-2015 model. The manual examples I drove can accomplish as much as 46.3mpg on average – and CO2 emissions are 161g/km.
To sum up, meticulously detailed body, cabin and chassis engineering work has resulted in a big SUV which is not only more appealing to drive, but also more pleasant to travel in. And with a seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty, the Kia Sorento will provide peace of mind, which is invaluable when it comes to family life on the road.
Pros ‘n’ Cons
- Roomy √
- Hushed √
- Practical √
- ‘Elephant skin’ dash materials X
- Max speed: 124 mph
- 0-62 mph: 9.0 secs
- Combined mpg: 46.3
- Engine: 2199cc 4 cylinder 16 valve turbo diesel
- Max. power (bhp): 200
- CO2: 161 g/km
- Price: £32,000 (KX-2) £35,850 (KX-3)