Kia Sorento Review
The Kia Sorento is a large, spacious seven-seat SUV that’s comfortable and well equipped. Hybrid versions won’t make great tow cars, though, and badge snobs may scoff at the price.
What's not so good
Kia Sorento: what would you like to read next?
The Kia Sorento is the seven-seat SUV for when you really need seven seats. Some seven-seat SUVs are fine if you only plan to use them for the occasional journey. But if you regularly carry up to six passengers you’ll want a car that doesn’t require the flexibility of a contortionist to get into seats six and seven.
Sound like you? Then the Kia Sorento should definitely be on your shortlist.
Also on your shortlist will be cars such as the Skoda Kodiaq and Peugeot 5008, however with Kia pushing the starting price of the new Sorento to nearly £40,000 you might also be looking at the Land Rover Discovery Sport or Mercedes GLB.
A motoring journalist cliche is to talk about cars being Tardis-like in terms of interior space, but we’ll not use that analogy. Instead, for a Doctor Who reference, we’ll say the Kia Sorento is like the current Doctor, Jodie Whittaker. It’s smart, stylish and the right seven-seater for our times.
You see, for this latest Sorento, the mainstay of the range is now a self-charging hybrid. A plug-in hybrid is due later. You can still buy a diesel, but your options are limited.
More on that below. While the design for the new car has been updated, it still looks like a rough, tough SUV, just a bit sharper. The grille has a new shape and comes with integrated LED headlights.
At the rear, there are new vertical rear lights and the Sorento nameplate is now across the bottom of the bootlid.
The Sorento lives up to the ‘U’ in Sports Utility Vehicle better than most family seven seaters – it’s roomy and relaxing. The Sports part? Hmmm, not so much.
Step inside and you’ll find an equally stylish interior. All around there are lots of nice, soft-touch materials and chrome-looking trims. The seats are comfortable and there’s a decent amount of adjustment for the driver’s seat and steering wheel. It’s just a shame lumbar adjustment, useful for staying comfortable on long journeys, isn’t standard on the entry-level car.
Still, every car gets a large digital driver’s display and a touchscreen infotainment system. It’s not quite as slick as the system you get in a Mercedes GLB and entry-level cars miss out on the largest screen and sat-nav, but at least Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard across the range, so you can use your phone’s navigation apps instead. Speaking of phones – there are USB ports next to every seat, so everyone should be able to charge their phone or hook up their tablet.
But the Kia Sorento’s party trick is its seats. The new car is longer and wider than the car it replaces and that has translated into extra space for the interior.
Three adults should be comfortable across all three seats in the middle row. They aren’t separate like you get in a Peugeot 5008 but they can move backwards and forwards and recline.
Adults in seats six and seven will be reasonably comfortable too. Sure, it’s not quite as roomy and as flexible as the middle row, but tall folk will be happier here than they would in a Land Rover Discovery Sport. Unlike in the old Sorento, you can get into the back seats from both sides of the car.
Folding the seats down is simple and when you do, you get a huge, flat boot – 2011 litres in all – although a Skoda Kodiaq’s is bigger again. With all seven seats in place, the boot is pretty small and annoyingly the luggage cover can’t be stowed away under the boot floor but on top of it.
You may also be slightly annoyed by the choice of engines – or lack of. There’s a 1.6-litre 226hp petrol-electric hybrid or a 2.2-litre turbo diesel with 200hp. And that’s your lot. Both come with four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox, and you can only get the diesel in mid-spec ‘3’ cars.
The hybrid feels good to drive around town. The initial spurt of electric power is handy coming out of junctions. It does sound a bit noisy when you rev hard, though. And while you can pull a small caravan with the hybrid, if you regularly pull something bigger or do lots of motorway miles, you’ll need to go with the diesel. Official fuel economy figures are around 40mpg for both, but these figures will fall to mid-30s in the real world.
On a twisty road, the Sorento does what you’d want it to do, which is mainly not swaying about too much and making your passengers car sick. You won’t be setting lap times in the Sorento, but then why would you in a seven-seat SUV?
You might baulk at parting with the best part of £40k for an entry-level Kia Sorento, but if you use seven seats regularly, it really is one of the best of its kind. And you should be able get the price down, without haggling, when you buy through carwow.
The Kia Sorento interior looks stylish and feels quite posh inside. There’s plenty of space too, but the infotainment system isn’t as slick as you get in alternatives.