REVIEW: Kia Sorento

SOMEHOW the Rotherham Advertiser’s Facebook feed was infiltrated by a video of Caitlyn Jenner giving an emotional speech at this year’s Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly awards.

Rather than ponder the recent trials and tribulations of the one-time Olympic decathlon gold medallist and sex-change reality TV star it somehow got me thinking about the changing face of Kia.

Alright, the transition has not been quite as jaw-dropping as that of Ms Jenner, but looking back at the Kias of old, it’s hard to imagine that they came from the place.

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It was Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer who put pencil to paper to transform Kia’s range — not a Calfornia-based surgeon — and the outcome is a range that now chomps aggressively at the heels of the big-selling market leaders.

The latest new entry to Kia showrooms is the new Sorento, a car that aims to make further strides in terms of engineering, refinement and quality.

Longer, lower and wider than its predecessor and riding on a its 80mm longer wheelbase, it comes with seven-seats, four-wheel-drive and a 194bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine as standard. 

Kia’s flagship SUV range is big and straightforward.

Entry level KX-1 versions start from £26,995 and among the standard kit on all Sorentos is tinted glass, cornering headlights with sparkly LED daytime running lights, cruise control, air conditioning, rear parking sensors, DAB radio and Bluetooth.

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Tested here was the £31,995 KX-2 and it felt plenty well-equipped, with faux leather heated front and rear seats, dual-zone climate control, a seven-inch sat-nav system and a reversing camera among the extra kit.

Kia’s Sorento re-style does echo elements of the old car but feels like a thoroughly modern reworking of the same theme.

The “Tiger nose” front grille larger, more upright and prominent, while the headlights are narrower and more focussed-looking.

The Sorento’s flanks are deep, while the rear is perhaps the least radical area of change but appears usefully lower — less rump heavy — than the old version.

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Overall, it’s a handsome car and one which, to my eyes, is not dissimilar to the striking new Volvo XC90...

A broad, contoured and attractively-textured soft-touch dashboard dominates the driver’s view of the interior, with a neat sliver of chrome trim intersecting it before neatly framing the sat-nav and infotainment system.

The centre console and door inserts feature rather more brittle plastics, however, the lid on the central cup holders being particularly flimsy.

That faux leather, also, isn’t really fooling anyone.

In terms of space the Sorento offers almost as much as the opening credits of Star Wars. For five, it’s huge. For seven, there remain some concerns about access as the second row of seats fail to fold convincingly out of the way, but it will accommodate a car-full of adults as well as many MPVs.

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This is a big car, though not as utilitarian and over-sized as a Toyota Landcruiser.

New Dynamax intelligent four-wheel-drive helps to control its giant frame with the help of torque vectoring and cornering traction control, which meter power to the corner with most traction, and the result is decent poise and stability, especially if you adopt an early braking style which allows power to be applied through a corner.

The 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine isn’t the most refined at low speeds but its 310lb.ft. of torque makes reasonably light work of the claimed 1,891 kerb weight, claiming a nine-second sprint to 62mph and 124mph top speed, and it does quieten at a cruise.

As tested here, with a six-speed manual gearbox, fuel economy and emissions claims stand at 46.3mpg (combined) and 161g/km, respectively.

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At this price point the Kia Sorento is the biggest car in its class and, quite possibly, the most versatile.

Making great strides ahead with the introduction of lane departure warning system, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning System, Around View Monitoring, Adaptive Front Lighting and Speed Limit Information, it does move things on for Kia in many respects.

But I’m glad that my KX-2 spec test car came equipped with few of the above.

As a no-nonsense seven-seat SUV it is sitting pretty in that ground between the value-driven and aspirational premium family cars...

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Is Kia suffering an identity crisis? No, I think it’s settled into its new skin just fine.


Kia Sorento KX-2 CRDi 4WD Nav

Engine: 2,199cc, four-cylinder, turbodiesel

Power: 194bhp and 310lb.ft. of torque

Performance: 0-62mph in 9 seconds and 124mph

Economy: 46.3mpg (combined)

CO2 emissions: 161g/km

Price: £31,995

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