KIA has made a pretty good fist of becoming a bona fide player in the UK car market. Gone are the cheap & cheerful, but well built & reliable models of yesteryear, replaced by a more expensive, well equipped, attractive but still well built & reliable range of cars, with the Sportage the stand-out seller. In 2016, one in four KIA’s sold in the UK were Sportage, but since the middle of 2017, things have begun to change, with the brands vast array of models, including Stonic, cee’d, Niro, Optima & Sorento contributing to the brands success, which currently sees the UK as it’s best selling European marketplace.
The original Sorento did what it said on the tin & when the current version came out in 2015, KIA produced a more refined seven-seat SUV, which was is now capable of taking on the opposition in a highly competitive market sector, where customers are literally spoiled for choice. This is a sector where customers expect more than sheer size from their vehicles. With the upmarket brands – think Bentley, Rolls Royce, Porsche, Maserati & Lamborghini, joining the likes of Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz & Land Rover Rover, fighting for sales.
KIA has updated the Sorento range for 2018 adding some new trim levels, ditching the manual version & offering it with only an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Sorento is still offered in KX-1, KX-2 & KX-3 versions, with the addition now of GT-Line & GT-Line S trim, which offer customers an awful lot of goodies for their money.
Customers who want a large SUV want practicality & the Sorento doesn’t disappoint The Sorento’s seven seats, arranged in a 2+3+2 configuration, can be configured in a variety of ways. With the third row in place there’s 142 litres of boot space, but when not needed they fold flush into the boot floor at the tug of a cord, that frees up 605 litres of space behind the second row, which can also slide back & forth with a 60:40 split. Fold the second row down via two levers in the side of the boot & that opens up a massive 1,662 litres of space, easily enough for a mountain bike or two.
The Sorento’s a good looker too. The exterior of the tweaked third generation Sorento is reminiscent of the big Audi Q7 Mk1, but prettier. We were testing the 2.2 CRDI GT Line S Auto AWD, which looks great. This comes with a dark metallic mesh radiator grille, chrome door handles, roof rails, a panoramic sunroof, LED daytime running lights, red brake callipers’, LED-headlights, stainless steel side steps, 19″ alloys & twin exhaust pipes.
Inside, the Sorento is plusher & better equipped than before. There’s a StopStart button, 8 way adjustable electric seats & a 7″ LCD touchscreen. Comfort comes in the form of ventilated & heated black leather front seats, outer heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, air-con throughout, even in the two rear most seats & a 10 way power adjusted drivers seat.
Safety is covered too. AWD is standard & there’s also Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA),Lane Keep Assistant (LKAS), Drive Warning System (DWS) & Lane Departure Warning, all fitted to the GT-Line S, the kind of features that a German marque will ask extra for. On top of these, the GT-Line S gets park assist, a 360 degree all round monitor, adaptive cruise control & a Harman & Kardon sound system.
As luck would have it, the Sorento arrived in time for an annual trip to North Wales for me plus a group of tall late teens & our weekend gear. Once on the M56 I engaged cruise control & sat back for our two hour journey to Nefyn. With 197bhp under the bonnet the Sorento is a fine motorway cruiser & will reach 60 mph from a standing start in an impressive 9.1 seconds, going on to reach a top speed of 127 mph. Thanks to extra insulation in the engine bay & wheel arches, plus larger doors that now stretch over the sills, engine & road noise is much better inside the cabin than it was in the Mk2 Sorento. The auto box is splendid, taking the hard work out of the trip.
Once into the area around Snowdonia, the Sorento proved that it’s not just good in a straight line. It’s remarkably poised around corners & up & down hills for a car of it’s size. The auto box copes well with the terrain & although I didn’t venture off road, I;m sure it would be a capable vehicle in that area if it was required.
On arrival in Nefyn, I had found the Sorento to be a really comfortable drive, both on the motorway & along the narrow North Welsh roads, with my passengers including one of 6ft 5” who sat in the rear declaring that there was plenty of room in the back.
On our return on the Sunday afternoon, KIAs excellent Sat Nav even took me on a detour around the congestion hot-spot of Caernarfon, enabling our party to get home 30 minutes faster than everyone else.
For business user;s running cots are a major consideration. KIA claim a combined fuel economy on my test model of 43.4 mpg – driving 500 miles, I achieved 36.2 mpg – with emissions of 170g/km, which for a large 4WD seven-seater is pretty impressive. With KIA’s 7 year/100,000 mile warranty, 12 year unlimited anti-perforation warranty & 5 year/100,000 mile paint warranty to reassure you, the Sorento is also a sensible choice if you need seven seats, 4WD or need to tow a horse box or caravan.
What does all this good stuff cost ? My test model retailed at £43,325 on the road which raised a few eyebrows amongst my fellow parents. However, buy a German car of at the same size that is similarly equipped & you would be looking at £50,000 + & the rest for a similarly specked Land Rover, so in that respect the Sorento is great value for money, with it’s nearest competitor’s being the Hyundai Santa Fe & Nissan X-Trail.
In conclusion, updating & improving the Sorento has only strengthened it’s hand. Up against the rest of the competition it shines as great value for money, with a tremendous warranty & proven reliability. As a family man with two grown up children & a dog, it would be a great car to drive regularly. Indeed one of the dads on our trip had just bought a Land Rover so that he could get his new Jet Ski in & out of the sea in Wales. I don’t think he was smiling when I told him the Sorento’s price, because his second hand 4WD had cost him 10k more !
An easy 4/5.