Kia Sorento

Seven seater SUV is excellent value and looks smart

8.2
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 18 reviews
  • Smart new looks
  • Quality interior feel
  • Seven seats
  • Only one engine choice
  • Some rivals more fun
  • KX-4's suspension is stiff
 

£28,795 - £40,950 Price range

 

7 Seats

 

42 - 49 MPG

Review

The new Kia Sorento is a car that anyone looking to replace their big seven-seater SUV should consider. It rivals models such as the Nissan X-Trail and Hyundai Santa Fe, but also gets close to the class of smaller premium competition such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport and the BMW X3. Prices start from £28,795 and if you buy the Sorento using carwow you can save £4,710 on average.

That, and the fact that Kia’s seven-year warranty is the best in the business, makes the Sorento superb value.

In all but the basic version, the dashboard is dominated by a touchscreen that’s used to adjust the car’s main systems including its sat-nav. Plastic quality is decent in most places you look and feel, while there’s plenty of space for five adults, plus a spare pair of seats in the boot. With them folded away the load bay is huge.

Buyers are restricted to one engine, a 2.2-litre diesel, but it’s a strong unit. Fuel economy doesn’t quite match a Nissan X-Trail’s, but the Kia’s engine has much more power allowing it to perform swift overtakes.

Standard kit in the Sorento includes four-wheel drive, air conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control and reversing sensors.

Cheapest to buy: 2.2-litre KX-1 diesel

Cheapest to run: 2.2-litre KX-1 diesel

Fastest model: 2.2-litre Auto KX-2 diesel

Most popular: 2.2-litre Auto KX-2 diesel

Get behind the wheel of the Sorento and you’ll be impressed by the car’s interior quality. It might not quite have the premium feel of an Audi Q3, but it is well built with soft touch plastics used for most of the interior’s construction. The fake stitching on the top edge of the dashboard isn’t great, though; serving only to highlight that it’s not covered in leather as it is in top end Discovery Sports. Points are won back, however, by the fact that all but the base model come with black leather seats as standard.

Entry level models also do without the touchscreen that’s fitted to the rest of the range, in the KX-2 models its seven inches in size, while KX-3 and KX-4 models get an eight-inch screen. The system is easy to use (it recognises postcodes, for example), but could do with a selector control that would make it easier to operate on the move. On our test car the sat-nav could have done with an update, too – it didn’t recognise some new roads and occasionally flashed up the wrong speed limits.

Kia Sorento passenger space

There’s plenty of room for tall adults in the front of the Sorento and KX-3 models and above come with an electrically adjustable driver’s seat that makes getting comfortable behind the wheel very easy. Jump in the back and you’ll find tall adults are well catered for. There’s room enough for three and foot space for the middle passenger isn’t restricted as it is in some cars.

Kia Sorento seven seater

The spare seats in the boot are better suited to kids, although tall adults could fit for shorter journeys. Both the middle and back row of seats get their own ventilation controls.

Kia Sorento boot space

Keep the rearmost seats up and boot space is pretty tight, but they drop flat into the floor simply by tugging a couple of nylon loops to reveal an impressive load capacity of 660 litres. Total space with all the rear seats folded is a massive 1,732 litres. The cargo area is also easy to load with a wide-opening rear door and no boot lip – the boot operates electrically in KX-3 and KX-4 models.

Kia Sorento towing capacity

If you regularly plan to use the Sorento for towing the manual gearbox is the one to go for, it gives the Kia a maximum tow weight of 2,500kg against the auto’s 2,000kg limit.

The first thing you notice about the Sorento is how big it feels to drive. It’s taller than many other SUVs, so you get a nice feeling of security and an excellent view of the road ahead. Some might find its size a little intimidating, though.

It rides comfortably thanks to suspension that seems to soak up the worst of this country’s bumpy roads, only a series of small lumps make the car bounce around in a way you wouldn’t find in a Discovery Sport. Reviewers recommend steering clear of the top-of-the-range KX-4 model – the quality of its ride suffers due to its huge 19-inch alloy wheels.

Even though the suspension is supple, the Sorento doesn’t feel all at sea when you corner quickly. For such a large, tall car there’s remarkably little body lean. That said, make a series of quick direction changes and the Kia can feel a little out of its depth.

Where it really feels at home is on the motorway. At a cruise in top gear the car’s 2.2-litre diesel engine is barely ticking over so there’s plenty of power in reserve for overtakes and tackling steep inclines without having to change gear. It’s also very quiet with the little wind and road noise that does make its way inside almost blanking the sound of the engine.

Buyers have the option to choose from a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox, but as the former is light and easy to use we would choose it unless you expect to do lots of town driving.

Although the Kia Sorento won’t be able to match a Land Rover Discovery Sport off-road it does come as standard with differentials that lock at the touch of a button. That allows the car to send an equal amount of power to all four wheels, which should capable enough for most owners’ needs.

Sorento buyers only get one engine to choose from, but luckily the 2.2-litre diesel is excellent. It’s got 197hp and 311lb ft of torque, which is enough to shift the car from 0-62mph in 9.0 seconds, when fitted with the standard six-speed manual gearbox. The auto raises that time to 9.6 seconds.

All that torque means that overtaking is effortless and you won’t need to change gear constantly to make swift progress. It makes for a stark contrast to the rival Nissan X-Trail, which has a 1.6-litre diesel engine that can feel underpowered.

The larger engine means the Kia is more expensive to run than some rivals, though. Nissan claims the X-Trail will return fuel economy of up to 57.6mpg, while Kia owners will have to content themselves with a figure of 47.6mpg (42.2mpg when fitted with the automatic gearbox). That said, we got very close to Kia’s official figures on our test run.

CO2 emissions of 149g/km and 177g/km mean manual and auto Sorentos cost £145 and £225 a year to tax, respectively.

The Sorento achieved the full five stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP. Pedestrian safety isn’t usually a strong point for cars of this type, but the Kia’s active bonnet mounts, which pops up to protect pedestrians from the hard engine below, means it scored impressively in this area, too. Parking cameras all round, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitors and dynamic headlights mean the KX-4 model is safest of all.

The Kia Sorento range comprises of KX-1, KX-2, KX-3 and KX-4 models. Even the entry-level KX-1 comes with decent levels of equipment, but the top end of the range gets quite pricy putting the Sorento into contention with classier (but smaller) rivals such as the Discovery Sport and BMW X3.

Kia Sorento KX-1

The KX-1 is the cheapest model in the Sorento range, but it comes with plenty of equipment such as four-wheel drive, 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, rear parking sensors, a Bluetooth phone connection and cruise control.

Kia Sorento KX-2

With sat-nav and a leather interior (that includes heated front seats) as standard, the KX-2 model is arguably the sweet spot of the range. A standard rear parking camera makes it easier to manoeuvre into tight spaces and the car’s self-levelling rear suspension will make it feel more stable when carrying a heavy load or towing.

Kia Sorento KX-3

With a list price of more than £35,000 the KX-3 trim level isn’t cheap, but your money buys you kit such as a powerful 10-speaker stereo, a larger eight-inch touchscreen for the sat-nav, a panoramic glass sunroof that opens, plus a driver’s seat that adjusts electrically. Powerful xenon headlights should give you a clearer view of the road at night and they also adjust automatically to compensate for the load the car is carrying or towing.

Kia Sorento KX-4

We would advise against the expensive KX-4 model which has a list price of more than £40,000 – about the same as a top-of-the-range Land Rover Discovery Sport. The KX-4 gets cameras that cover every side of the car (to make manoeuvring even easier), headlights that follow the direction of the steering wheel, adaptive cruise control and a blind spot warning system. Be warned, however, testers tell us that the standard 19-inch alloy wheels also make the suspension feel significantly stiffer.

Conclusion

As a large family car the Kia Sorento covers all the bases. It’s got lots of space for passengers and a huge boot, while the spare pair of seats will prove their worth if you regularly carry two extra passengers.

The interior is also one of Kia’s best efforts yet in terms of build quality and ease of use, getting impressively close to the BMW X3 and Land Rover Discovery Sport. The Sorento also has more space than its similarly priced premium rivals. The driving experience isn’t quite as good as those two, but for the most part it gets very close.

Factor in Kia’s seven-year warranty, and the competitive price of the more basic models, and the Sorento can rightfully be seen as one of the best seven-seater SUVs currently on sale.

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