Despite climate change & the congestion charge, the popularity of large SUV’s shows no sign of abating. KIA have just launched an all-new Sorento, which is their large SUV, but have done so with an eye on the future, by introducing a mild-hybrid petrol with a full plug-in version set to arrive at a later date. For those who travel long distances or need to tow up to 2,500kg, there’s still a diesel Sorento, as the petrol version can’t match the diesel’s towing prowess at only 1,650kg.
CC&V went along to the UK launch of the Sorento & were given the opportunity to drive both petrol & diesel engines.
The new Sorento is offered in three specs; ‘2’, ‘3’ & ‘4’, with a choice of a 2.2-litre CRDi ‘Smartstream’ diesel engine with 199bhp or a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine with self-charging hybrid technology.
The first thing you’ll notice about the latest Sorento, is it’s aggressive SUV looks. The front features a much larger grille than the previous version, with new vertical tail lamps which wrap around the side of the body. The large D pillars are still there, but it’s at the rear where you’ll notice the biggest changes. The rear tailgate offers twin rear light clusters which look very “Bentayga”. The fourth-generation model follows other recent Kia models, with the Sorento model name displayed centrally across the tailgate. An integrated spoiler also conceals the rear wiper.
KIA has added plenty of on-trend tech, improved kit across the range. Entry level ‘2’ comes with 17″ alloys, seven seats, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, tinted glass, roof rails, 2 x front, 2 x rear & 1 x third row USB charge port’s, a heated steering wheel & front seats, LED headlights, rear combination lights, daytime running lights, front & rear fog lights, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, an 8″ touchscreen with DAB & a reversing camera.
Opt for ‘3’ & this adds, 19″ wheels, ambient interior lighting, electric leather seats with lumbar support, keyless entry, a powered tailgate, a larger 10.3″ touchscreen & wireless phone charging. This is the only trim available with the diesel engine.
Move up to the range topping ‘4’ & you’ll find window blinds for the second row, a head-up display, a panoramic sunroof & ventilated front seats, but with an asking price of £46,945, it’s an expensive way to get into a Sorento.
All models get top-notch active safety, which includes Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Multi-Collision Brake Assist (MCBA), Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Downhill Brake Control (DBC), Forward Collision Avoidance Assist (FCA) , Lane Follow Assist (LFA)& Driver Attention Warning (DAW). Plus, you get the reassurance of Terrain Mode Select, choose from Mud, Snow or Sand, for on or off road driving.
We tried out the Kia Sorento ‘2’ 1.6 HEV T-GDi Auto AWD first, which cost’s £38,845 OTR. Unsurprisingly, the cabin is spacious & the dashboard cocoons the driver into a comfortable driving position. Nice design touches include four rhombus shaped air-vents, with smaller vent’s underneath & nice design detail above the glove box.
The centre arm rest, door pockets & glove box door are all solidly made & overall, the interior is finished to a very high quality. Storage comes in the form of large door pockets, space under the arm rest, two centre cup holders & a spot for your keys behind these.
Second seat passengers get acres of head & legroom & three adults will fit in comfortably. The rear twin seats fold flat into the boot floor & in this configuration, the boot space offers customers 616 litres. Fold down all five rear seats & this increases to 2,011 litres, plenty big enough for most.
Our test car was powered by the 1.6-litre hybrid powertrain, which comprises a turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, a small 1.49kWh battery & an electric motor. It offer’s a combined fuel economy of 40.9 mpg, with CO2 emission of 158 g/km. There’s a useful 226bhp on offer with 350Nm of torque, a 0-60mph time of 8.7 seconds & a top speed of 119mph.
For a large car; it measures 4,810 mm long & 1,900 mm wide & weighs in at 2,610kg, it actually feels easy to drive. The steering is light & coupled with the 6-speed auto box, the petrol engine offers very quiet urban driving. The ride does feel firm, perhaps due to the car’s suspension, which has been set up to help control it’s kerb weight.
We also tried out the range topping ‘4’ 1.6 HEV T-GDi Auto AWD, which costs £46,945 OTR. The ‘4’ comes with a lot more kit & because of this, offers slightly worse CO2 emissions of 169g/km & a combined economy of 38.2mpg. Driving this version the Sorento’s firmer setup is even more noticeable, as it tended to crash around over the UK’s badly maintained roads. It does though, offer plenty of stability & on the motorway feels very accomplished.
Finally, we spent some time with the diesel Sorento ‘3’ 2.2 CRDi DCT8 AWD, which cost’s £41,245 OTR. As soon as you pull away in this, you notice how much heavier the diesel feels to it’s petrol brethren. It’s not terrible, just a reminder that petrol hybrids are getting better & after a few minutes, you soon get used to the heavier feel.
The diesel is the version to go for if you for tow or drive big miles. It comes with a maximum torque of 440Nm, a 0-60mph time of 9.1 seconds & a top speed of 127mph. Combined fuel economy is 42.2mpg with CO2 emissions of 176g/km.
We have to say that although the diesel offers the slightly better mpg figure – the self-charging hybrid is capable of 40.9mpg on the WLTP combined economy cycle, with the diesel managing 42.2mpg – we preferred the feel of the the self-charging hybrid. The combination of it’s petrol engine, 44.2kW drive motor & the 1.49kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, makes for a lighter, more enjoyable ride & the lower CO2 emissions will also help reduce your company BIK.
Not for the first time, we have been swayed by a petrol hybrid over a diesel & for company car drivers who need a large SUV, the petrol hybrid kitted out in ‘3’ spec, is the one we’d recommend.
Overall a 3.75/5