The launch of the updated Sorento kicks off what will be another busy year for Kia, all with an aim of selling 100,000 new cars in the UK. Last year they managed 93,222, the highest tally yet. This finessed sevenseat SUV sits alongside the Stinger Gran Turismo as the flagship of the lineup. Still to come this year is a totally renewed Ceed range, as previewed on the cover of last month’s issue, together with updates to the Optima, a wider range of engines for the Stonic and rumours suggest that we’ll also see a facelifted Sportage, too. And not forgetting a pure-electric version of the Niro SUV, too.
So, plenty to get excited about with the Korean brand, including this refreshed Sorento, which far from being just a modest nip and tuck, the automatic editions get a newly developed, homegrown eight-speed self-shifting transmission that not only boosts fuel economy, but also lowers the CO2 emissions by 4g/km, too. Acceleration to 62mph is quicker by a half a second compared to before, and it delivers an altogether smoother, more refined driving experience, with imperceptible changes. There’s a choice of five different modes thanks to the addition of a Drive Mode Select button, and on this new top-ofthe-range GT-Line S model, you’ve got steering wheel paddleshifts for all those budding Lewis Hamilton wannabes. The all-wheel drivetrain largely operates in front-wheel-drive mode most of the time for greater efficiency, but can apportion 40 per cent of the power to the rear wheels in trickier conditions. Both this and the 2.2-litre CRDi engine are carried over from the outgoing model, and that’s just fine as it’s a quiet unit both when cold and warmed through. Even when you’re in a press-on mood, it isn’t intrusive, boosting its long distance, motorway munching credentials. While road and tyre noise are nicely contained, there’s some wind noise to be heard, which is hardly surprising considering its bulky styling.
There’s plenty of oomph off the line, and mid-range torque is plentiful to overtake slow moving vehicles with ease. Body lean is well contained, there’s confidence inspiring levels of grip and though absent of any great level of feel, the steering is safe and utterly predictable. Despite its size, it’s easy to judge when navigating tight car parks, thanks to large door mirrors and good all-round visibility. Ride comfort is generally good, cushioning the worst imperfections and potholes that you’ll encounter.
GT-Line and GT-Line S models replace the KX-4 version in the outgoing Sorento range and deliver a sportier edge to the line-up. 19-inch alloy wheels, stainless steel side steps, ice-cube-look fog lights, red brake calipers and a pair of rear exhaust pipes deliver a more purposeful look. Inside, there’s black leather upholstery with grey stitching, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration is added for the first time. The layout of the interior has been carried over untouched, and that’s because it was already a comfortable and cosseting place for occupants. The cabin is sensibly designed, with the controls neatly grouped together and clearly labelled, and nice quality soft-touch surfaces. Everything feels well screwed together, and the white on black instruments are clear and easy to read at a glance. The driving position is suitably elevated to give a commanding view along the bonnet, and the seats deliver a good level of comfort. Thanks to the electrically operated seats, there’s plenty of adjustment to suit drivers of all shapes and sizes.
A large tray in front of the gear selector handily houses the auxiliary and USB ports, and there’s a deep armrest to store items. The door pockets are a decent size and suitable for drinks bottles, while the glovebox is well proportioned and able to accommodate the bulky owner’s handbook. Head, knee and leg room is plentiful both in the front and rear, though the rearmost seats are probably best suited to children, on account of the restricted leg space and the agility required to climb into the back. Wide opening rear doors make it easier, though. All Sorentos come with seven seats as standard, and so for families that only need five chairs, the rearmost pair can be forwarded down flat, which provides a large, flat space that is 605 litres in size up to window height. Fold down the middle row of seating, too, and this opens up to a highly competitive 1,662 litres, which should accommodate all of the garden waste and old furniture that you need to carry to the tip.
On sale | Now In showrooms | Now
Prices | £28,995 to £41,995
Bodystyles | 5-door SUV
Engines | 2.2 (197bhp)
Trim levels | KX-1, KX-2, KX-3, GT-Line, GT-Line S
Also consider| Hyundai Santa Fe, Skoda Kodiaq
Model tested | GT-Line S 2.2 CRDi AWD
Price | £41,995
Built in | Hwasung, South Korea
Bodystyle | 5-door SUV, 7-seats
Layout| Four-wheel-drive
Powerplant| 2,199cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, turbo diesel
Transmission | 8-speed automatic
Stop-start| Yes
SCR | No
Max power| 197bhp @ 3,800rpm
Max torque | 325lb ft @ 1,750-2,750rpm
Top speed | 127mph
0-62mph | 9.1secs
CO2 emissions |170g/km (Euro-6)
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) | 38.7/47.1/43.5mpg
Fuel tank size | 71 litres
Range | 679 miles
Insurance group | 25 BIK rate | 36%
Size (length/width without mirrors) | 4,800/1,890mm
Boot space (7/5/2-seats) | 142/605/1,662 litres
Kerb/max towing weight| 1,953/2,000kg