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Kia Sorento

The launch of the new Sorento marks the point where Kia is striving to shift away from being billed as a value brand, and move even closer to the established mainstream set, like Volkswagen and Ford. And with a price tag for the Sorento that pushes past the £40k threshold in its most expensive KX-4 guise, Kia definitely has more upmarket ambitions.
All editions of the Korean firm's largest off-roader cost more than before, but that's more than justified by a significant uplift in equipment, quality and capability. Even taking into account the rise in cost, the new Sorento still undercuts its sister car, the Hyundai Santa Fe, by a few hundred pounds - that's sibling rivalry for you! First impressions are that the Sorento feels much more substantial than before, both inside and out.
The bold front grille shouts about its more upmarket pretentions and the detailing simply looks and feels more premium than before. And that continues on the inside when you touch and feel the materials, with soft-touch spongey surfaces abound. With all of the major controls neatly arranged up high, it's easy to navigate your way around. The TFT instruments are a model of clarity, and the prominent touchscreen works beautifully and though positioned a touch too low to be in your constant field of vision, it's an easy system to operate while on the move.
The command-like seat position gives a great view out and all around the car, which is helped by deep windows and a decently sized rear window. The seats offer lots of adjustment, are nicely stuffed, and deliver generous support when cornering. There's plenty of head, elbow and legroom up front, and it's a similar story for the middle row of seats, though the chairs in the back are better suited to children and small adults. With all seats in use, there's a usable 142 litres of space, enough room for a few small shopping bags, while folding down all of the rear seats totally flat opens out to a sizeable 1,662 litres of luggage space.
Compared to before, power and torque has been increased marginally, while CO2 emissions on the flagship model has dropped by 1g/km, resulting in fuel economy that is improved by 0.7mpg over the outgoing model. All of the extra equipment has taken its toll on the new Sorento, with its kerbweight increasing by 34kgs.
Out on the road, the performance is more adequate than swift, feeling pretty laidback and relaxed in the way that it goes about its business. The engine is refined and quiet, no matter whether you are trickling along or with the accelerator pedal flat to the floor, and combined with low levels of wind and road noise, the new Sorento is a calm place to travel. The suspension soaks up undulations nicely, and potholes and ruts are shrugged off with ease. The steering is communicative and well weighted, with reasonable accuracy and precision, and though there's a degree of lean when cornering, it handles safely and predictably. Grip levels are excellent, as you would expect with standard four-wheel-drive, and the brakes have a meaty bite.
Of the two transmission options, the six-speed automatic would be our choice, as it delivers a more relaxing driving experience, swapping cogs seamlessly, while being highly responsive when you want it a little more get up and go. Model tested KX-4 2.2 CRDi AWD Automatic
Price £40,995
Made in Hwasung, South Korea
Configuration 5-door SUV, 7-seats, four-wheel-drive
Drivetrain 2199cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, turbocharged diesel with stop-start
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Power output 197bhp @ 3,800rpm
Maximum torque 325lb ft @ 1,750-2,750rpm
Top speed/0-62mph 124mph/9.6 secs
CO2 emissions (tax band) 177g/km (I) Euro 6
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) 36.3/46.3/42.2mpg
Fuel tank size/range 71 litres/659 miles
Insurance group/BIK rate 28/31%
Size (length/width without mirrors) 4,780/1,890mm
Boot space (7/5/2-seats) 142/605/1,662 litres
Kerb/max towing weight 1,953/2,000kg

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