Kia Sorento – Review
by Liam Bird
Have a think: How many 7-seater 4x4s can you think of? The Land Rover Discovery is probably your first thought and, perhaps, Mitsubishi’s Outlander springs to mind as well. A few of you might mention Citroen’s C-Crosser and Peugeot’s 4007 – both Gallic offerings are built alongside the Mitsubishi in the same Russian factory – and perhaps we shouldn’t forget Volvo’s CX90 either.
When it comes to offering a lot of car for your cash, especially if you’re in the market for something that can not only carry the extended family but carry them off-road too, then perhaps your thoughts should turn towards Kia’s latest Sorento.
You could be forgiven for not having noticed that Kia have revised their Sorento, the new model looks strikingly similar to the one it replaces. However the more observant of you will notice that at the front the Sorento gets new bumpers and daytime running lights, while at the rear the tailgate has been completely redesigned. The rear light clusters are all new too and I’d say there’s more than a hint of Audi in their design. Perhaps Kia’s design chief, Peter Schreyer, hasn’t entirely let go of what he learnt from his former employer – he was, after all, the man who originally penned the TT.
“Useful low-down torque”
Inside too there are hints of Schreyer’s past. OK, so the Sorento’s interior isn’t in the same league materials-wise is that of Audi, but that doesn’t mean you have go without beautifully clear chrome rimmed dials complete with backlit red needles, nicely damped switches or a liberal smattering of soft-touch plastics. The list of standard equipment is also generous. In KX-2 spec, as tested, the Sorento gets all-important Bluetooth, I-pod connectivity and 7-inch sat-nav, plus auto lights and wipers, air-con, and heated seats. There’s even leather trim and a reversing camera – that will probably prove very handy for those of you who wish to couple-up your Kia a trailer or caravan.
You might well need that trailer, especially if you prefer to travel with company. Like all 7-seaters the Sorento leaves little room for luggage once its third row of seating is deployed. However, with a towing capacity of 2.5 tonnes there’s no real need for anyone to travel light. Alternatively, if you’re not the passenger carrying type, with the rear two rows of seating folded the Sorento’s load space is gargantuan.
Fire up the 2.2 diesel and at first it sounds a little, shall we say, industrial. Once warm though it provides relaxed cruising and, thanks to some useful low-down torque, surprising punch, especially whilst overtaking. The Sorento also rides well. It’s no sports-car by any means and the steering is very light, but because it’s lower and lighter now than it ever was, the Sorento resists the urge to roll in corners and can punted along at a decent pace. A new exhaust-gas recirculation system means the Sorento can also claim class leading mpg figures of 47.9 with CO2 emissions at just 155g/km.
“No loss of traction”
Off road too, it can hold its own. There’s now a low ratio ‘box option and on tarmac the Sorento is effectively front-wheel drive. However, when the going gets altogether gooier a percentage of torque transfers automatically to the rear wheels. This ensures no loss of traction. There’s also the option to manually select “lock mode”. This splits the torque equally between the Sorento’s front and rear axles for improved stability at speeds up to 19mph, should your speed increase further lock mode is automatically disabled but, if you’re not fully out of the woods, it will re-engage once again if your speed drops back down.
By giving the Sorento a nip here and a tuck there, improving the way it drives, lowering its fuel consumption, and improving its aerodynamics and also the way it looks, Kia have turned what was once a slightly utilitarian outsider in to a genuine contender. Throw in a seven year warranty as well and, if you’re in the market for a seven-seater all-rounder then the Sorento shouldn’t be far from your thoughts after all.
Kia Sorento KX-2 CRDi
Engine: 2,199cc 4Cyl turbo-diesel
Transmission: 6 speed Manual, all- wheel drive
Power: 194bhp @3800pm
Torque: 311 lbft @1800 – 2500rpm
Max Speed: 118mph
MPG: 47.9 combined
Price: from £26,500 (car driven £30,000)