Kia Sorento (2015-2020) review
The Kia Sorento is practical, comfortable and even feels pretty plush inside for a car of this price, but you can only get it with one engine – a slightly thirsty diesel
What's not so good
Kia Sorento (2015-2020): what would you like to read next?
If you’re looking for a spacious seven-seater family car that’s reasonably affordable and comes with enough off-road ability to cope with icy country lanes and muddy fields then the Kia Sorento is definitely worth a look.
It was updated in 2018 with slightly refreshed styling, a new automatic gearbox and a range-topping GT Line trim with plenty of posh features as standard.
It might not have the badge kudos of a VW Tiguan Allspace, but the Kia Sorento still comes with a plush, spacious interior and lots of tasty high-tech kit. Avoid entry-level KX-1 cars and you get an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, sat nav and smartphone mirroring tech thrown in, so you can use your phone’s navigation and media apps on the Kia Sorento’s built-in screen.
Another feather in its cap is the fact that the Kia Sorento’s interior comes with seven seats as standard – unlike the Skoda Kodiaq. There’s enough space for tall adults to stretch out in the middle row and no annoying lumps in the floor to worry about like you get in most SUVs. Even the rearmost seats are relatively spacious but, annoyingly, you can only climb into them from the left-hand side.
Sadly, the Kia Sorento’s practicality isn’t particularly impressive with seven people on board. There’s only enough room left over in the boot for a few shopping bags – unlike in a Skoda Kodiaq that’ll happily swallow seven passengers and a bulky stroller. Flip the Kia Sorento’s rear seats down and there’s plenty of space for a few large suitcases, however, and a bike will fit if you fold down all but the front seats.
The Sorento lives up to the ‘U’ in Sports Utility Vehicle better than most family seven seaters – it’s roomy, relaxing and reasonably affordable but it’s hardly very exciting to drive
Even with a boot full of heavy luggage, the Kia Sorento’s 2.2-litre diesel engine won’t have any trouble pulling you up steep slopes or cruising along at motorway speeds. Its standard-fit four-wheel-drive system helps make sure you won’t be left stranded in muddy fields either.
Unfortunately, an eight-speed automatic gearbox costs extra but it’s well worth paying for – it helps make driving the Kia Sorento easier around town and in heavy traffic. Thankfully, even with the standard six-speed manual, the Sorento is reasonably relaxing to cruise along in. This is thanks, in part, to its soft suspension that helps make it more comfortable over rough roads than the likes of the VW Tiguan Allspace and Skoda Kodiaq.
Sadly, unlike these cars, you have to pay extra for some key safety features such as automatic emergency braking. Still, hand over a little extra for Kia’s Drive Wise safety pack and you’ll have a well-rounded seven-seat SUV that’s cheap to buy and comes with an industry-leading, seven-year warranty for extra peace of mind.
Even the Kia Sorento’s rearmost seats are big enough for shorter adults to get comfy but fill all seven seats and you won’t have much space left in the boot for luggage
Kia’s clearly made an effort to make all the Sorento’s seven seats very spacious. Why you can only climb into the third row from the left-hand side is anybody’s guess, however…
The Kia Sorento’s front seats are reasonably supportive but you’ll want to pick a KX-3 model or above if you do lots of long journeys. These get extra lumbar support to help prevent back ache on long drives and plenty more seat adjustment to help you find your ideal driving position.
Whichever model you pick, you’ll find there’s plenty of space in the front. The panoramic glass roof you get as standard on KX-3 cars does cut into headroom slightly, but tall drivers still have plenty of room to stretch out.
The Kia Sorento’s second-row seats are very nearly as spacious as those in front. Passengers over six-feet tall won’t have any trouble getting comfortable and there’s even enough shoulder room to carry three adults side by side. There’s no annoying lump in the floor either, so your middle passenger can climb in and out easily, but the low seats mean there isn’t a great deal of support for your passengers’ legs. Thankfully, the Sorento more than makes up for this with its sliding and reclining middle seats.
The Kia Sorento’s large rear doors make it reasonably easy to access the all-important third row of seats but, annoyingly, you can only hinge the left seat forwards so your passengers can’t climb into the rearmost seats from both sides at once.
Tall adults will struggle to get comfortable on long journeys in the third row of seats, but the Kia still serves up more space than the Land Rover Discovery Sport, Skoda Kodiaq or VW Tiguan Allspace. Even with the middle row slid as far back as it’ll go there’s more than enough legroom for two kids to stretch out.
You shouldn’t have much trouble keeping the Kia Sorento’s cabin looking neat and tidy. There are two cup holders built into the centre console and enough space under the front armrest to tuck a camera or a small water bottle. The glove box is big enough to hold another one-litre bottle and a few more odds and ends, too – once you’ve removed the gigantic owner’s manual, that is…
Both front door bins can carry an extra 1.5-litre bottle each and there’s a small tray under the dashboard that’s ideally placed to store your phone. The rear door bins aren’t quite as generous as those in the front but you do get a pair of cup holders built into the folding rear armrest.
Passengers in the rearmost seats get a decent size cup holder each and a storage tray that’s big enough to hold a large smartphone, but no armrests.
With all seven seats in place, the Kia Sorento’s boot capacity is a modest 142 litres. That’s just enough for a few shopping bags but the boots in the Skoda Kodiaq and VW Tiguan Allspace are significantly roomier.
Flip down the rearmost seats and the Kia Sorento’s loadbay grows to a much more usable 660 litres – easily enough space for a bulky baby buggy, some soft bags and a few suitcases all at once. There’s no annoying lip in the boot opening so it’s easy to slide heavy luggage on board and its square shape makes it a doddle to pack full of large boxes.
Need to carry even more? Flip all but the front seats down in a handy three-way (40:20:40) split and you’ll open up a 1,732-litre load space. That’s very nearly as much as the capacious VW Tiguan Allspace can manage. Fitting a bike with its wheels attached will be no trouble and the Kia Sorento’s almost-flat floor means you can easily slide large items right up behind the fronts seats.
You even get a large amount of underfloor storage with easily enough space to carry a few soft bags, a couple of laptops and the retractable load cover all safely hidden out of sight.
Avoid the larger wheels fitted to top-spec cars and the Sorento is impressively comfortable over long distances. Its large size means it’s not ideal in town, though
You get a great view out in the Kia Sorento but you’ll have to rely on that reversing camera when parking – it isn’t a small car by any stretch of the imagination
All Kia Sorentos come with a 200hp 2.2-litre diesel engine, four-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox as standard.
This engine’s punchy enough to pull a fully laden car up a steep hill without any fuss, returning claimed fuel economy of 49.6mpg. In real-world conditions you can expect it to manage around 35mpg, however. Many 2.0-litre diesel alternatives from VW, Skoda and Nissan can eke out more miles per gallon.
It’s reasonably quiet at motorway speeds and won’t have any trouble keeping up with fast-moving traffic but the engine can get a little noisy when you accelerate hard. It’ll reach 62mph from rest in nine seconds – exactly the same as the Hyundai Santa Fe and just a fraction slower than a comparable Skoda Kodiaq.
The standard six-speed manual gearbox is reasonably easy to use but the optional eight-speed automatic really helps take the stress out of long motorway journeys and lengthy traffic jams. It isn’t just smoother than the old car’s six-speed auto, it helps cut the Kia Sorento’s CO2 emissions down from 172g/km to 159g/km.
You also get four-wheel drive as standard on all Kia Sorentos – unlike in the Skoda Kodiaq, VW Tiguan Allspace and Nissan X-Trail. As a result, the Kia’s more than capable of dealing with an icy driveway but it’ll get left behind by the likes of the Land Rover Discovery Sport if you try tackling anything more daring than a muddy field.
The Kia Sorento’s raised ride height gives you a good view out over the road ahead, but the relatively large pillars between the front doors and the windscreen can make it a tad tricky to spot traffic approaching at junctions.
Rear visibility isn’t brilliant – the thick pillars beside the boot lid restrict your view when parking – but all models come with a reversing camera as standard. High-spec KX-4 cars even get a surround-view camera and a system that’ll steer for you into bay and parallel parking spaces.
Light steering helps make the Kia Sorento reasonably easy to manoeuvre around town – for a car this size anyway – but top-spec models struggle to iron out potholes as well as the Skoda Kodiaq or VW Tiguan Allspace thanks to their large 19-inch alloy wheels.
Head out onto a twisty country road and its body leans more than these cars too, so your passengers might start to feel a little car sick on long journeys. Thankfully, what the Kia Sorento loses out in sportiness, it claws back in comfort. It’s more relaxing to drive than the likes of the VW and Skoda and cruises along happily at motorway speeds with only a small amount of wind noise and tyre roar.
The Kia Sorento earned a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP back in 2014 but these tests have been made significantly stricter since. As a result, you’ll want to pay extra for Kia’s optional Drive Wise package if you want the Sorento to be as safe as other more modern SUVs.
This pack includes blind spot detection and automatic emergency braking that’ll try to stop the car as quickly as possible if it detects an imminent collision. You even get traffic jam assist that’ll accelerate, brake and steer for you at slow speeds and adaptive cruise control that can match your speed to other cars before returning to your chosen speed when the road’s clear.
Everything in the Kia’s cabin is easy to reach and most of its switches and knobs feel impressively sturdy. Unfortunately, its drab design won’t get your pulse racing…