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Kia Sorento 2015 review

The Good

  • Lovely drive
  • Space for seven
  • Comfortable

The Bad

  • Not cheap
  • Design is unadventurous
  • Plain interior
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Rory Reid reviews the 2014 Kia Sorento, Kia’s family-oriented, seven-seater SUV with aspirations of grandeur.

Big, spacious and clever, the Kia Sorento has always appealed to those wanting a large workhorse that didn’t completely break the bank. With this new version, Kia wants to take the Sorento further upmarket, with a premium design, sophisticated driving dynamics and genuine off-roading capability, but can it really challenge its more established rivals?

Design

“It looks great and oozes class, even down to a very satisfying door shutting action.”The 2015, third-generation Kia Sorento follows the usual car industry design trends; it’s lower, longer and wider than its predecessor, with a longer wheelbase. But while it’s larger, Kia’s disguised its heft well with a host of pleasing design details.

Particular highlights include the 3D-esque grille, which features dozens of individual ‘nodules’ protruding from the big Kia’s ‘tiger nose’. You’ll also find sharp, rectangular fog lamps and a belt line that rises towards a sloping roof line – which makes for a more sporty appearance.

Crucially, the Sorento gives the impression of a ‘premium’ product in the flesh. It looks great and oozes class, down to the very satisfying door shutting action.

Practicality

“Yes, even those fold-down rear seats in the third row are large enough for fully grown adults.”The new Kia Sorento excels here. The increased wheelbase provides acres of cabin space; so much so it’s possible to sit a total of seven six-footers in the car at once. Yes, even those fold-down rear seats in the third row are large enough for fully grown adults – as long as you’re limber enough to clamber over the middle row of seats once they’re folded flat.

Things are far from claustrophobic back there. You’ll even find individual air-conditioning controls specific to those seats as well as cup-holders.

We couldn’t find a way to fold the second row of seats flat whilst sat in the third row, however, so you’ll need to rely on others to let you out, unless you fancy engineering an escape through the boot.

“With the third row of seats folded flat, you could get lost in there.”With the rearmost seats in place, boot space is at a premium – 142 litres – but you’ll still find enough room for a pair of suitcases standing vertically. With the third row of seats folded flat, you could get lost in there – it measures a whopping 605 litres – 90 litres more than the old car. Fold the middle row and you’ll get as much as 1,662 to play with. Ikea wont’ know what hit it.

Cabin space is impressive, too; there are cupholders in the centre console and rear armrest, spaces to stash change or sweets, a centre storage box and a good-sized glovebox (although lots of this space is taken up by a huge user manual).

Performance & Handling

“The dog might not be so happy in the boot, but you’ll get out with a smile on your face.”The best way to describe the Kia Sorento’s performance and handling ability would be ‘graceful’. It positively wafts across tarmac and, to those not paying attention to what sort of car they’re in, it would be easy to mistake the Sorento for something from a far more premium brand. It’s smooth, soaks up bumps in the road with aplomb, has little wind or road noise at motorway speed and is even fun to drive at pace.

Throw it into a corner and, though it’ll lean (it is massive, after all), it does so in an incredibly controlled manner. It’s no sports car, but it’ll reward you with fast, graceful turns of pace through the twisty stuff if the mood takes you. The dog might not be so happy in the boot, but you’ll get out with a smile on your face.

“It feels eager to accelerate, dispatching 0-62mph in 9 seconds (or 9.6 with the auto). All versions will do 124mph.”All versions of the car are powered by a 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine driving all four wheels through either six speed manual or automatic transmissions. The engine feels muscular thanks to 197bhp and a hefty 441Nm of torque (increases of 3bhp and 19Nm compared to the previous engines. As such, it feels eager to accelerate, dispatching 0-62mph in 9 seconds (or 9.6 with the auto). All versions will do 124mph.

The manual car has a super slick gear change action, while the automatic changes up and down smoothly.

We were unable to test the Sorento off road, but it has four-wheel-drive as standard. Most of the time it pushes 100 per cent of engine torque to the front wheels, but torque can be reshuffled, giving up to 40 percent to the rear wheels when the road conditions call for it. The car also has a lock mode, which gives a 50:50 torque split at speeds of up to 25mph.

Economy & Environment

Manual versions of the Sorento riding on 17-inch wheels will return 49.5mpg – not bad for a car the size of a small shed – with CO2 emissions of 149g/km. That sits it in VED band F, with tax chargeable at £145 a year. The auto is thirstier, returning 42.2 with 177g/km, which will cost you £225 in tax, so we’d only recommend this if money is no issue and/or you’re incredibly lazy or have a physical disability preventing you changing gears yourself.

Equipment & Value

The 2015 Kia Sorento comes in four trim levels; KX1, KX2, KX3 and KX4, but even the entry-level car is well-equipped, despite Kia’s reputation for being a value-driven brand. The £28,795 KX1 has 17-inch alloys, body-coloured bumpers, door handles and mirrors, roof rails, tinted glass, cornering lights, LED daytime running lights, all-round electric windows, cruise control, seven seats a DAB radio and Bluetooth.

The £31,995 KX2 spec adds 18-inch wheels, automatic lights, rain-sensing wipers, leather upholstery, heated seats front and rear, 7-inch touchscreen with sat-nav and dual-zone air-con.

KX3, which costs £35,845, includes a Panoramic sunroof, Xenon headlights, LED rear lights, eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, engine start button, an auto-opening tailgate, Infinity premium sound system, an 8-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, a 7-inch instrument display, lane departure warning and speed limit information.

The KX4, £40,995, gets 19s, a choice of grey or black upholstery, ten-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with four-way lumbar support, eight-way power adjustable passenger seat, rear side window blinds, and some clever tech including auto parking, blind spot detection, and rear cross traffic alert to stop you backing out of your driveway into oncoming traffic.

Safety

“It will even automatically brake the car to a standstill if it thinks your’e about to crash.”The new Kia Sorento’s sheer mass means it exudes sturdiness. Its body shell is 14 per cent stiffer and stronger than the previous car and, unsurprisingly, it managed a five-star Euro NCAP rating.

Its brakes are strong, its handling is sharp enough to keep you out of trouble and the 4×4 system means you’ll have plenty of grip in adverse weather.

The Sorento also has a suite of electronic safety systems including electronic stability control, electronic brake force distribution, which lets you brake and steer at the same time, and brake assist. Its adaptive cruise control feature will even automatically brake the car to a standstill if it thinks your’e about to crash.

Verdict

We’re very impressed by the new Kia Sorento. It does all the things you’d expect of it, offering lots of space for seven passengers and luggage, while keeping its occupants comfortable, all with decent equipment levels.

It also goes above expectations, offering a fantastic drive in almost any conditions. It’s easy to drive around town, cruises beautifully on motorways and won’t even shy away from bouts of spirited driving on twisty terrain.

Kia has been incredibly ambitious in marketing the new Sorento as an upmarket family car but in our eyes it’s onto a surefire winner.  

Specification

Engine2.2-litre turbodiesel
Power197bhp
Torque441Nm
Acceleration0-62mph in 9.0 seconds
Emissions149g/km
Economy49.6mpg
PriceFrom £28,795.

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