Kia SorentoI recently took the new Kia Sorento (SUV) on my holidays to the south coast with everything but the kitchen sink.

You name it, it was in there. I mulled around for a few weeks before, thinking about what car I would like to test for this year’s trip away.

Of course, I went through the likes of Nissan and Ford etc. But, then that got me thinking. I have always liked Kia’s, and I don’t ever remember testing the Sorento. So, Kia it was.

So, what’s new?

The new Sorento has a completely new platform that improves safety, driving dynamics and refinement. There has also been some major interior upgrades that raises the bar on quality, plus some very useful standard equipment.

Kia SorentoAll models now feature seven seats and an All-Wheel Drive system that incorporates a very smooth 2.2-litre CRDi turbo diesel engine. Efficiency has also been vastly improved on this model, and so has the running costs which I have to say are amazing.

Less than three years into it’s life-span, Kia’s much-loved Sorento, has been as far as I can see comprehensively revised. Far more than just the usual mid-term upgrade most manufacturers churn out. This was a no holes barred full front-to-rear and top-to-bottom re-engineering of this car, which in turn has improved safety, comfort, luxury and driving dynamics. I like this because they have made something that was already good even better.

On the road:

The Sorento’s much improved on-road agility and a re-engineered chassis has made it a much sharper drive, while the basic suspension layout of MacPherson struts at the front and an independent multi-link arrangement at the rear has been retained. There is also a new H-shaped front subframe and an additional reinforcement to the rear which has helped improve straight-line stability and ride comfort.

New high-performance dampers at all four corners, larger suspension bushes and longer trailing arms at the rear also add to the Sorento’s road holding ability and the pure comfort that you can feel. I have to say, that it’s like driving around in a Bentley. No honest, it’s that good.


Engine:

The new Sorento engine revisions have lower fuel consumption, emissions and running costs. All versions of New Sorento are now powered by a revised version of Kia’s 2.2-litre CRDi turbodiesel engine, driving all four wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic. Plus, a new exhaust-gas recirculation system (a sort of witchcraft) has helped the Sorento achieve class-leading fuel economy and CO2 emissions of 47.9 mpg and 155 g/km on manual models – improvements of 5.7 mpg and 22 g/km CO2 over the outgoing model, which in turn rewards buyers with a saving of £155 in the first year’s road tax (VED).

The figures for the Sorento with the six-speed automatic transmission are 42.2 mpg and 175 g/km CO2 emissions with 17-inch wheels fitted to the majority of models, or 41.5 mpg and 178 g/km CO2 for the ‘KX-3’ with 18-inch wheels. These represent reductions of up to 4 mpg and 19 g/km CO2.

The 2.2-litre CRDi engine develops 194 bhp at 3,800 rpm and is quite a little mover when you consider the size of the car. There is also a staggering amount of torque of 422 Nm from just 1,800 rpm (or 436 Nm with the automatic gearbox), endowing the Sorento with outstanding driveability on- and off-road. 0-60 mph is also dealt with in 9.4 seconds (manual), and all versions have a top speed of 118 mph.

Equipment:

The first thing I noticed with the new Sorento was how child proof the interior was. My children gave it a right bashing, and it all stayed together perfectly fine. To be honest, lots of other makes would have fallen apart.

The improvements inside the cabin are good, as is the use of the soft-touch materials used on the trim. Leather is used to trim the steering wheel and gear lever and lots of chrome has been applied all around the cabin as a garnish, while black wood grain finish on the ‘KX-2’ have been added to the dash and door trims, giving the new Sorento a premium look and feel. All versions apart from ‘KX-1’ have ambient lighting in the front centre console and door trims and every model has door sill scuff plates – aluminium on the ‘KX-2’


All models also feature dual-zone automatic climate control with rear-seat air ventilation, allowing all seven occupants to fine-tune the temperature in their area of the cabin. A slightly smaller boot of between 116 litres (seven seats upright) and 1,530 litres (all rear seats folded) is still a very good usable space.

Additional equipment to be found as standard on all versions includes body-coloured bumpers, chrome exterior door handles, aeroblade-type front wipers, projection headlamps with cornering lights, electrically folding, adjustable and heated door mirrors, chrome interior garnish, rear air ventilation, LED daytime running lights, cruise control, reversing sensors, high-performance dampers and Motor Driven Power Steering (MDPS) steering.

The ‘KX-2’ version I had on test, was fitted with rain-sensing front wipers - a leather-trimmed instrument panel and a 4.3-Kia Sorentoinch LCD colour touch-screen with integrated reversing camera system. If you upgrade to the‘KX-2 Sat Nav’ version, this will add a seven-inch touch-screen navigation system with European Mapping and Traffic Messaging Channel (TMC). The satellite navigation system is combined with a 10-speaker premium audio system delivering 495 watts of power. It includes a central speaker, sub-woofer and an 11-channel DSP external amplifier for maximum surround-sound quality.

Safety:

The updated Sorento’s look of solidity and strength is more than matched by the safety it delivers. For me, my family’s safety is paramount - and the safety areas on the Sorento are very good indeed. Kia have focused a lot of attention to the B-pillar areas, where a roll-over hoop was incorporated and ultra-high-strength steel is used in the side sills, floor, dash cross members plus the fuel-tank surround.

Every Sorento has anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) to allow drivers to steer and brake simultaneously in emergencies and to ensure the stopping effort is directed to the wheels with most grip. A flashing LED Emergency Stop Signal (ESS) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and a Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) are also fitted as standard. As is Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) to prevent wheel-spin or roll-back when setting off on steep or slippery slopes.

Six airbags (twin front, side and side curtains) are standard, as are active front headrests that prevent or minimise whiplash injuries should the Sorento be hit from behind. There are also front seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters.


To sum up:

I have a soft touch for the Sorento because it has taken my family away in safety and comfort, with no surprises. Once again, KiA has produced a very good SUV indeed. Plus the added benefit of the Kia seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty. What’s not to like?

Engine: 2,199cc
Power: 194 bhp @ 3800 rpm
Torque 422 Nm @ 1800 - 2500 rpm
Gearbox: 6 speed
0-62: 9.2 sec
Economy: 47.9 mpg (combined)
CO2 Emissions: 155 g/km
Price: from £28,895   By Anthony Yates

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