► CAR’s Kia Sorento review
► KX-3 spec with 2.2-litre diesel
► Range starts at £28k, KX-3 costs £36k
The Kia Sorento has come a long way. Gone is the barn-door, cheap-as-chips mud-plugger of old: the current model is a more mature, well-rounded and justifiably posher SUV.
It’s long been the choice for those looking for a capable family bus but can’t stretch to the likes of the Land Rover Discovery or Audi Q7. In its latest guise, though, has that premium aspiration rubbed away some of the Sorento’s value-for-money appeal?
We got behind the wheel of a manual Kia Sorento KX-3, priced at £36,165, to find out…
What engines can I choose from?
Precisely one: a 2.2-litre CRDi diesel unit that produces 197bhp and a hefty 325lb ft of torque. Thankfully it’s all the engine you’d ever need anyway; a 9.0-second 0-62mph time is plenty quick enough and the available pound-footage is great if you’re a regular caravannist.
Noise is adequately damped; the diesel din is dimmed to a reasonable level, with only a vocal grumble if you rev it out. The six-speed manual feels a little clunky, but manages to be more economical on paper than the six-speed torque converter auto.
How does it handle?
Like a fairly large SUV usually does. It’s big and feels slightly cumbersome on the road but Kia has combatted that by providing a clutch with an early bite point and light steering to make helming a bit easier. Preferring the latter to feel a bit heavier even in regular day-to-day driving, we kept the weight-adding ‘Sport’ steering setting permanently switched on.
The steering itself is direct, but turning into a sharp corner throws up a considerable amount of body roll if you’re too eager with your entry speed. As a big family SUV should be, it’s better suited to a chilled cruise.
Ride quality is a particular highlight; the Sorento coasts over most imperfections, and even on rutted country tracks it deals with lumps with aplomb.
What do you get for your money?
If you go for the upper KX-3 spec, you’re treated to quite a bit of luxury:
• Xenon headlights
• 10-speaker Infinity sound system
• 8-inch infotainment with nav & rear view camera
• Power tailgate
• Panoramic sunroof
• Keyless entry/start
• Heated steering wheel
• Heated front and outer rear seats
• 8-way power driver seat
Kia also does without a huge options list so, other than a few minor accessories, that’s your lot.
Interior-wise, the dashboard feels well-made with plenty of squidgy soft-touch plastics plus chunky dials and buttons. It all feels reassuringly robust.
The infotainment system isn’t the best out there, though; the 8-inch screen looks dwarfed within the huge dashboard panel and navigating the menus felt a little clunky. There were also times during our test when the navigation couldn’t offer up-to-date mapping, so it could do with a software refresh.
How practical is the Sorento?
Hugely so. It’s a full seven-seater with seats in the middle row having the capacity to slide forwards and back as well as recline. In KX-3 spec, those in the middle row are treated to luxuries like heated outer seats and their own air conditioning vents, plus 12V sockets and big door bins.
The rearmost seats offer a little more legroom than you’d expect – so much so that adults can sit back there in relative comfort for short journeys – and those seated in the third row have a small storage cubby and separate cupholder.
With all seven seats up, boot space is paltry but enough for a small weekly shop. With five seats in place, there’s a 605-litre loadbay which trounces the likes of the Nissan X-Trail, Hyundai Santa Fe and Honda CR-V but falls short of the Skoda Kodiaq and Land Rover Discovery. You can fold all seven seats down at the push of a button to uncover a usable 1662-litre space, while a low load lip and storage space for the parcel shelf add bonus practicality points.
The Sorento does a pretty good job of keeping itself competitive in the seven-seat SUV class. The interior has a premium feel, it’s more practical than a Santa Fe or CR-V and more economical on paper than a similarly-powered Skoda Kodiaq.
However, it’s considerably more expensive than all three of those rivals, which eats into the Sorento’s appeal. What’s more, if you’re set on a Sorento, we recommend going no higher in the trim range than the KX-3 tested here. Due to the recent changes in road tax bands, the top-tier KX-4’s £41k list price means it’s susceptible to an extra £310 per year for the first five years of ownership.