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Kia Sorento ‘3’ 2.2 CRDi DCT8 AWD
Click to view picture gallery“Good things, they say, come in
  threes. Bearing this out is Kia
s all-
  new 7-seat SUV, the Sorento, which
  offers three different powerplant
  choices
a petrol-electric hybrid
  that doesn
t need charging; a planet-
  saving plug-in hybrid;
and a torquey
  turbodiesel
...”


WE RECENTLY REVIEWED the self-charging petrol-electric hybrid, and it is certainly very persuasive. That noted, there are still many drivers reluctant to give up the pulling power of a torque-rich diesel and for them Kia offer a 2.2-litre turbodiesel that's well endowed with 'grunt', serving up a very muscular 324lb ft allowing it to haul an impressive braked 2,500kg.

The 'rule of three' also applies to the roles the Sorento can play: with three rows of seats, all-wheel drive and a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission, the turbodiesel Sorento not only makes an excellent tow-car for horseboxes, boats and caravans but it will also move seven in comfort or transport an impressive 2,011 litres of cargo in its cavernous loadbay.

Given its across-the-board repertoire you might expect its body to be more utilitarian than dreamboat. Think again — park this all-new fourth generation Sorento next to a German-blooded prestige SUV and the Kia holds its head high. Standing 1.7 metres tall and measuring 1.9 metres wide, its well-crafted lines make it appear sleek and deceptively smaller than its 4.8-metre footprint.

While you sit at a height
that is commanding,
surprisingly you don
t
feel that you
ve climbed
up to get there.
The driving position is
first-rate and even with
the seat jacked up
hat-wearers will feel
totally at home.
The heated and smartly
upholstered black leather
chairs comfortably
accommodate XXL body
sizes and their well-
profiled bolstering will
keep you in place both
off the beaten track or
when pressing on
through the twisties...”
As befits its place at the top of Kia's SUV line-up (which also includes the Niro, Stonic and Sportage) this latest Sorento is a tasty bit of kit. Fronted by a classy reworking of the brand's trademark 'tiger nose' grille and short front and rear overhangs, the Sorento gives off an assertive premium class air that benefits from some 'tough' visual nods to the SUV breed such as the front skid plate and wheelarch protection mouldings. The distinctive D-pillar treatment and light clusters cut into the rear haunches highlight the muscular rear-end treatment while five-arm 19-inch alloy wheels keep the Sorento's silhouette smart and sassy.

But there is way more to this new Kia seven-seater than just some stylish power dressing: under the skin there's much to impress including generous accommodation for adults in all three rows. Starting with the front cabin — pull open a door and your first impression will be of a striking and inviting interior packed with high-tech gear and sporty leather-upholstered seats.

While you sit at a height that is commanding, surprisingly you don't feel that you've climbed up to get there; entry and exit is easy-peasy. The cabin is welcomingly spacious and the feeling of roominess easily matches what you'd find inside 'full-fat' SUVs from the likes of Audi, BMW and Volvo.

The driving position is first-rate and even with the seat jacked up the generous headroom will make hat-wearers feel totally at home. The seats themselves are smartly upholstered in tactile black leather and will comfortably accommodate XXL body sizes; they also benefit from quick-to-warm three-stage heating and serve up plenty of support in all the right places, plus their well-profiled bolstering will keep you in place both off the beaten track or when pressing on through the twisties. The passenger gets electric seat adjustment but the driver goes one better, with full 8-way power as well as power-adjustable lumbar support.

Behind the heated wheel is a very nice place to be thanks to excellent visibility that lets you see what's happening at all four corners and a clear view down the bonnet that makes placing the Sorento a no-brainer in traffic and when you're off-road. The 2.2 turbodiesel model is comprehensively kitted out with an easy-to-use 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation display sited top dead centre of the fascia plus, ahead of the driver, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that's easy on the eyes day and night.

Drivers will also give the 'proper' climate controls — they don't need to be operated by stabbing the main screen with your fingertip — the thumbs-up. Commendably, and unlike some carmakers, Kia hasn't gone overboard with 'digital' and the foolproof heating and ventilation controls are so much easier and far less distracting to adjust on the move than having to take your eyes off the road to finger-dance on a touchscreen. Particularly easy to use are the neat, high-level rocker switches; a quick nudge changes the temperature in either front zone.

“The comms are
comprehensive and easy
to use with crisp
graphics, foolproof menus and quick
responses. The large
central touchscreen
fronts an infotainment
system as well as a
fully-fledged SatNav —
so no faffing around
with your smartphone
for directions, although
you can if you want to
courtesy of Apple
CarPlay and Android
Auto mirroring...”
There are plenty of other items to make your life easier including a smart entry system, engine Start/Stop button, rotary gear selector, dual-zone (plus 3rd-row) automatic AirCon, reversing camera with dynamic guidelines and front and rear parking sensors, electric parking brake with autohold, wireless smartphone charging, powerfolding and heated door mirrors (on demand and automatically activated on locking and leaving), one-shot up/down electric windows all round, auto-dimming rearview mirror, auto lights and wipes plus auto-switching dip/main beam.

There's a worrying trend emerging: the bigger cars get, the less in-cabin storage room there seems to be. Kia have, thankfully, bucked this trend so you'll find plenty of storage solutions spread throughout the interior including a decent-size lockable glovebox, a huge storage bin with a sizeable lift-out upper tray capped by a broad armrest 'lid' separating the front seats, drop-down holder for your shades, large bottle-holding door bins, dual-use siamesed cupholders, and a deep, lidded tray at the base of the centre stack with three USB slots (two of which are fast-charging) along with a bed to park your mobile where it can also be wirelessly charged.

As you would expect when spending around 40K, the comms are comprehensive and easy to use with crisp graphics, foolproof menus and quick responses. The large central touchscreen fronts an infotainment system as well as a fully-fledged SatNav — so no faffing around with your smartphone for directions, although you can if you want to courtesy of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mirroring.

Other standard items include a 6-speaker audio system, DAB radio, multi-device Bluetooth connection with voice recognition and music streaming, and Ecall that, in the event of an accident, takes care of summoning the emergency services. Better still, Kia has guaranteed social harmony by the simple act of fitting a USB socket for every passenger in all three rows (why doesn't every carmaker do this?) so everybody can charge up their device without any squabbling.

And it gets better: the widescreen 12-inch digital instrument display's virtual dials co-exist happily with the multi-configurable information panel between them that's controlled via the steering wheel's buttons and shows everything you might want in a glance; including the two most important numbers — a large digital readout of your road speed shown, sensibly, alongside the posted speed limit (that also appears on the active 3D mapping).

“A week’s hard driving,
that took in a long trek
back to Kent from Devon,
validated the accuracy
of the official combined
cycle figure (42.2mpg) —
we recorded a test
average of 42.9mpg.
Performance is also
respectable with
a top speed of 127mph
and the benchmark
0-60mph clocked in 9.1
seconds.
It’s very nice to drive
too with unruffled punch,
especially so in Sport
mode. Pootling around
the houses and in rush
hour traffic is genuinely
stress-free and
cruising on faster roads
gratifyingly hushed.
And when it comes to a
fast overtake, the 2.2-litre
gets it done without
fuss...”
The Sorento's cabin manages to indulge you with acres of space while at the same time wrapping you in a reassuring feeling of safety. Just sitting in this big SUV makes you feel very safe indeed. But it's more than just a feeling because under the skin there's a wealth of active safety tech and assists such as Forward Collision Avoidance which incorporates city, pedestrian, cyclist and the new junction detection feature — this tracks an oncoming vehicle from the other side of the road when turning at a junction; if a collision appears likely, it applies your brakes to avoid an accident.

And there's loads more safety stuff; a long list of it, actually: lane-following assistance, trailer stability assist, blind-spot collision avoidance with rear-cross traffic assist, driver attention warning, hill-start assist, multi-collision brake assist, electronic stability control, smart cruise control with Stop & Go functionality, Highway Driving Assist (controls the steering, throttle and brakes to maintain a safe speed/distance from the car in front on motorways), downhill brake control, the full LED treatment (headlights, daytime running lights, rear combination lights, and front and rear fogs), seven airbags/curtain airbags including a front centre airbag between the driver and front passenger to protect both in a side impact, ISOFIX child seat fixings for rows two and three, and a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

Any passenger not invited to ride shotgun will not be offended; in fact, they are more likely to be elated because not only are the middle-row seats comfy but there's masses of room to spread out in. Seat adjustability is extensive: the 60:40-split second row backrests individually recline; each section also slides fore and aft so the limousine-grade legroom can be personalised to suit. Headroom is equally plentiful (a fist-and-a-half of it) and there's ample width for three to travel companionably side by side.

You also get heated outer seats, large side windows providing great views out (there is privacy glass and built-in, pull-up mesh sunblinds for when privacy matters more), a wide made-for-sharing central armrest with built-in siamesed cupholders, dedicated central air vents, a cupholder incorporated into each door, practical door bins, three fast-charge USB ports (one in the centre plus one built into each front seat backrest), and netted seatback pouches.

As seven-seaters go, this Sorento delivers in spades and nowhere is this more evident that in the third row. Accessing seats six and seven is not a problem: press the button on either side's second row outer seat and it tilts and glides forward, opening up a big space for hassle-free entry to the rearmost pair. And you'll find the Sorento's third row is far more liveable than the token items provided by some rivals — in the Kia you get properly padded seats with backrests set at a comfortable angle along with real-world room for knees and feet.

Travelling in the rearmost seats is pleasant enough even for grown-ups although youngsters will have the most fun. It helps that the views out are great courtesy of the sizeable third windows that also keep it nicely airy inside.

“Placing the near five-
metre-long Sorento is
easy courtesy of the
quick and direct steering
and the well-mannered
roadholding; through the
bends it’s composed
and planted and the grip
is always there for you.
Whenever you need to
scrub off speed you can
rely on drama-free
stopping from the strong
and progressive
brakes...”
Adding to the easy-going ambiance are directional air vents with fan speed control, along with a USB slot, armrest-cum-smartphone tray and cupholder for each seat — and acceptable headroom. All-in-all a likeable spot even for adults if, that is, they're quick enough to beat the kids to them! When not in use the 50:50-split seats can be folded away, together or individually, into the boot floor.

With room for six passengers to accompany its driver the Sorento needs to ride well — and it does. If a smooth ride is what you crave just choose the Selectable Drive's dedicated Comfort setting. The fully-independent suspension does an excellent job of ironing out bumps without any sense of 'float' or jarring despite rolling on usually ride-spoiling 19-inch alloy wheels; the 235/55 Continental rubber's deeper sidewalls help out here too.

But it's not just good damping that contributes to the satisfying way the Sorento covers ground and gobbles up the miles but the well managed body control that cossets all aboard while keeping everything shipshape even when pressing on.

Kia's new 'Smartstream' turbodiesel is a 2.2-litre four-pot driving through a new eight-speed dual-clutch autobox with selectable driving modes including on-demand four-wheel drive. It produces 199bhp but, more importantly for those planning to tow or make full use of its commodious loadbay, 324lb ft of torque.

Our week's hard driving, that took in a long trek back to Kent from Devon, validated the accuracy of the official combined cycle figure (42.2mpg) — we recorded a test average of 42.9mpg. Performance is respectable too, with a top speed of 127mph and the benchmark 0-60mph clocked in 9.1 seconds. It's very nice to drive too, with unruffled punch, especially so in Sport mode.

Naturally the eight-speed autobox helps with its silky shifts; combined with the wide spread of torque on tap, pootling around the houses and in rush hour traffic is genuinely stress-free and cruising on faster roads gratifyingly hushed (as of the you-don't-need-to-hike-up-the-stereo kind). And when it comes to a fast overtake, the 2.2-litre gets it done without fuss.

In five-seat mode the
Sorento’s boot is pretty
awesome: at 616 litres,
it’s roomy enough to
sleep in and will have
no trouble swallowing
the entire family’s
staycation luggage.
Loading is as
straightforward as it
gets courtesy of a wide,
quick-rising powered
tailgate.
With seats six and
seven folded into the
floor, pressing the
switches in the boot
automatically folds
down the second row
to create a cavernous
2,011-litre loadbay...”
As mentioned earlier, instead of a traditional-style autobox selector lever you get a neat rotary knob (R-N-D: respectively at 11-, 12- and 1-o'clock, with a central press-button to engage Park). It works brilliantly plus you get paddle-shifters on the steering wheel for those times when you would prefer to take full control.

You also get Selectable Drive which offers Comfort, Eco, Smart, and Sport modes. Sport mode delays upshifts, adjusts the steering effort, and injects a noticeably determined zip into the Sorento's step. All-terrain ability is boosted by Terrain Mode which, along with the all-wheel drive system, lets you focus the system to tackle tricky conditions such as Snow, Mud, and Sand.

For a big seven-seat SUV the Sorento is surprisingly manageable and a doddle to drive both in town (parking is a breeze) or far from the blacktop out where the wild things roam. The superior driving position helps, of course, but all the sophisticated underpinnings from the 4x4 to the self-levelling rear suspension and the range of selectable driving modes means that whatever role you want it to play — plush family carryall, cargo workhorse, or hardcore tow car — the Sorento has got it covered.

Placing the near five-metre-long Sorento accurately is easy courtesy of the quick and direct steering and the well-mannered roadholding; through the bends it's composed and planted and the grip is always there for you. Whenever you need to scrub off speed you can rely on drama-free stopping from the strong and progressive brakes thanks to vented discs at each corner.

In five-seat mode the Sorento's boot is pretty awesome: at 616 litres, it's roomy enough to sleep in and will have no trouble swallowing the entire family's self-catering staycation luggage. Loading is as straightforward as it gets courtesy of a wide, quick-rising powered tailgate — helpfully it can be opened and closed using either the remote key or the button on the dash. With seats six and seven folded into the floor, pressing the switches in the boot automatically folds down the second row to create a cavernous 2,011-litre loadbay with a flat, seamless floor. Even with the third row of seats in use there's still 187 litres behind the third-row backrests for some carry-ons. A proper spare is provided and is easily accessible, externally, beneath the boot floor.

When it comes to towing, the 324lb ft turbodiesel willingly hauls a braked 2,500kg. For the record, the new self-charging hybrid model fields 258lb ft and can manage a braked 1,650kg. In other words, the turbodiesel not only walks the walk, but talks the torque.

Stylish, comprehensively kitted-out with a sizeable seating arena, a comfortable ride and confident roadholding with multi-mode all-wheel drive, and an über-practical loadbay, the Sorento's got the lot. Sure, there are other 4WD seven-seater SUVs out there but they don't come with an industry-leading seven-year warranty. And if you rack up high mileages, tow a caravan, horsebox or boat, or need to accommodate an active family, then the smooth-driving and fuel-efficient new Sorento turbodiesel could be your new best friend. ~ MotorBar
.
Kia Sorento '3' 2.2 CRDi DCT8 AWD | 41,250
Maximum speed: 127mph | 0-60mph: 9.1 seconds | Test Average: 42.9mpg
Power: 199bhp | Torque: 324lb ft | CO2: 176g/km

.