NEW SORENTO DRESSED TO IMPRESS
Third generation of Kia’s SUV boasts upmarket looks and a bigger range of driving refinements
KIA doesn’t adhere to normal conventions. The South Korean firm wants to get places fast, so cars are launched and replaced in half the time of many rivals. The Sorento first appeared in 2002 and lasted seven years.
The second generation was introduced in 2010, face-lifted in 2012 and replaced in 2015 with this third generation car.
The UK range hinges around a 197bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine with a peak torque of 441Nm. Sixty is 9.0s away from rest en route to 124mph.
Refinements include a stiffer body shell, additional soundproofing, acoustic shields built into the engine bay, and a thicker dashboard.
Depending on speed, ambient cabin noise is claimed to be between three and six per cent quieter than the previous car.
An electric assistance motor on the steering rack rather than the steering column as in the old Sorento, improves steering accuracy and feedback.
The fully-independent suspension still has Macpherson struts at the front and Kia’s multi-link system at the rear, but with a range of modifications to improve body control.
Design and Build
The exterior looks agreeably upmarket, with long, wrap-around headlamps and more prominent fog-lamps, a larger, more upright ‘ tiger-nose’ grille, with three-dimensional diamond pattern. It retains the long bonnet and chunky D-pillar, but a lower roofline, higher beltline and swept-back shape give a more muscular stance.
The cabin follows a ‘modern and wide’ theme. More soft-touch materials and leather aim at a luxury feel, although the Swiss watch-inspired centre-console still looks more Casio than Rado. Five or seven seat models are offered. The extra 80mm of wheelbase means greater legroom. Cargo space increases, and with the third row seats folded flat is up 17.5%, from 515 to 605-litres.
Market and Model
Prices start in the region of £29,000 which is still excellent value for money.
To put that figure into perspective, the similarly-sized Volvo XC90 will
require you to dig in for another £20,000. In fact, Kia’s asking for the sort of money you’d normally budget for something much smaller, such as a Toyota RAV4 or a Honda CR-V. At those prices, we’d forgive the Sorento for being a bit rough round the edges. The fact that it looks very well-appointed only makes its rivals’ task even tougher.
All four well-appointed trim grades have seven seats, now with a 40:20:40 split in the middle row and a 50:50 split in the rear. A six-speed automatic gearbox is optional in place of the six-speed manual at the KX-2 and KX-3 levels and standard with the plush KX-4 model. From KX-2 upwards, buyers have the choice of ordering the car without the self-levelling suspension feature at a saving of £500.
The Sorento debuts a number of technologies to improve convenience and further enhance the ownership experience. Select from an Around-view Monitor, with four cameras helping the driver to manoeuvre when parking, and a Smart Power Tailgate. This system opens the tailgate automatically when the key is ‘sensed’ in close proximity to the trunk, so owners can slide their shopping bags or heavy objects straight into the vehicle.
Safety hasn’t been overlooked either and the Sorento has been engineered for Adaptive Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning System, Front Collision Warning, Blind-spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross-traffic Alert and a Speed Limit Information Function, which displays the speed limit in the driver’s instrument cluster based on cameras detecting roadside signs.
Cost of Ownership
In the UK all versions of the Sorento are powered by the 2.2-litre version of Kia’s R-family turbodiesel engine, which now meets EU6 emissions requirements. It features a new, fourth-generation common-rail fuel injection system with increased injection pressure.
For the first time in a Kia, automatic models as well as manuals feature the company’s Intelligent Stop & Go (ISG) engine stop/start system to ensure that no fuel is used and no emissions are created when the car comes to a halt.
This helps to improve both air quality and noise levels in urban areas. Automatic versions also have Kia’s Active ECO feature, which adjusts the operation of the engine and transmission to promote maximum fuel economy in motion. As a result, all versions of this Sorento have lower fuel consumption and emissions. Manual models on 17-inch wheels have combined economy of 49.6mpg with CO2 emissions of only 149g/km, while for all automatics the respective figures are 42.2mpg and 177g/km.
Residual values ought to hold up well, with used buyers keen to get hold of a smartly-styled car with a host of modern safety features and the balance of a seven-year warranty intact.
It’s hard not to be impressed at the way Kia has gone about developing the third-generation Sorento. While some may grumble that we don’t really need cars to get progressively bigger with each passing generation, few would have any complaints about the way the Sorento has matured.
It’s better looking than before and a good deal more design input has gone into refinement, both aural and haptic. It’s just a more assured and confident design. What we’re still not quite seeing is a pronounced Kia hallmark with this car. It still seems a fairly reactive move to the way the SUV market is developing.
For many buyers, this is no bad thing. The Sorento looks more expensive than it is and even in a notoriously badge-conscious sector it would be too much of a bargain to overlook.
The new Kia Sorento packs plenty of nifty features into a modern and assured design