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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Kia Sorento: big car which handles like a small one

Kia Sorento drive by Steve Rogers

Take a look at the Sorento, a giant of a car but with small car manners.

Seven seater SUVs have become a rarity, too often the third row best suited for children, but here is one that can seat seven adults in relative comfort.

There is no sitting with knees tucked under the chin; here legroom in the back row is more than adequate, and you do not need to be a contortionist to get in and out.

The second row powers forward leaving enough room to get in, and a touch of a button does the same for ease of exit.

So that's it then, job done for this seven seater. Not quite, there is a lot more to this Sorento than a couple of extra seats.

Sorento was a big car even before the fourth generation model hit the road. At 4810mm (15ft9in) it grew 10mm in length but gained extra cabin space from a longer wheelbase. Sounds like a recipe for slack, sloppy handling except it is anything but.

This is where the small car manners come in because it does not drive like a cumbersome old school SUV. Body roll is not eliminated but kept under control as long as the driver is not over enthusiastic, Handling is impressive on twisting roads where you might expect things to get a little unruly. Ride quality is top notch as well no matter what pot holed road is being tackled.

Kia has had plenty of time to get the make up of the fourth generation model right and covered all bases.

Crucially the technology was updated so there is no delay when files are selected from the central 10.5in touch screen. If a driver wants to keep eyes trained on the road then voice control is a quick and easy option for changing radio stations or selecting an address through the navigation system.

If you share my views on heating controls then you will be pleased to hear that everything is neatly laid out with swithces rather than fiddling with the touch screen.

Likewise the driver has a clearly laid out digital binnacle with enough information to fill an encyclodpedia but let me reassure you that this is not info overload because everything is easily accessed using steering wheel buttons.

With a choice of just two models the entry Vision gets a generous kit list so expect such luxuries as heated seats front and back, heated steering wheel, auto dipping LED headlights, power operated front seats and tailgate opening. Third row passengers are not left out with heating conrols and the latest mobile charging ports which are also scattered around the cabin.

The Sorento has a sizeable boot as a five seater and with the second row folded flat becomes cavernous with all but two metres of length. I easily transported a single bed, in fact there is so much space two adults could comfortably sleep on a thin mattress.

New to the model is plug-in hybrid, a 13.8kWh battery providing 35 miles of electric driving. Not as much as the 50 claimed by Honda CR-V and Toyota Rav4, or the 60 promised by Skoda for the new Kodiaq, but you do get the full 35.

It does mean short journeys can be covered on electric power but once spent the 1.6 litre turbo engine kicks in providing spirited acceleration through the six speed auto box. With all wheel drive there are modes for mud, snow and sand driving.

Keeping the battery topped up (just under four hours for a full charge) boosts economy to what seems like improbable heights but it will be mainly engine power on a long drive where a good ball park is stick to sixty and get 40mpg. It worked for me on a 340 mile round trip where Sorento returned 43mpg.

Is £51,000 good value for this plug-in Sorento? Post Covid has seen car prices rocket and sadly this is the going rate. Honda and Toyota rivals are around the same price but the Kia has the two extra seats and it is well equipped with a full suite of safety features so my verdict is yes.

But there is good news if buying new. The fourth generation model is getting a mid term facelift with a wide screen style dashboard display and restyled vertifcal headlights. The price of the base diesel model has been reduced by £3,030 to £41,995 and the range is increased to three models.

Fast facts

Sorento Vision PHEV AWD


1.6 T-GDI; 262bhp

0-62mph 8.7secs; 120mph

176mpg combined

38g/km. 1st tax £10 then £190

Boot: 604-1988 litres

Insurance group 32

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