For decades, Kia Motors have produced highly affordable motoring, proving incredibly reliable and well screwed together but slightly lacking in quality – nonetheless, they sold in millions globally offering exactly what the motorist required – affordability, reliability and a good, honest mode of transport.
In today’s market however, motorists are demanding more and more, as such, in the last few years, Kia Motors have seriously upped their game and are now not only offering vast quality and technology, but dynamics and in some cases – performance also.
Changed times it is for the far eastern manufacturer, but a change that allows them to not only highlight their capability of listening to the demands of the consumer, but a change that also allows the Korean’s to nip at the heels of the less affordable premium brands from German makers.
The updated Kia Sorento is definitely an attractive looking vehicle with two new models being introduced as well as an all-new gearbox. Starting from £28,995, the Sorento moves through the KX-1,2&3 models that have been around for a while, into the new trim levels.
These models, the ‘GT-Line’ and ‘GT-Line S’, the latter of which is pictured and tested here at a range review event hosted by Kia Motors UK – offer more than ever before with a sporting flourish added along with an 8-speed twin-clutch, automatic gearbox that replaces the old 6-speed auto ‘box.
The GT-Line S starts from a hefty sounding £41,995 but comes packed with more than you will ever need and is still more affordable than the premium rivals with a similar spec, and despite being the largest of the Kia fleet, is far from cumbersome like a lot of rivals – for instance, parking it around town is no harder than parking an average sized estate car.
This is a good thing, all too often manufacturers make vehicles somewhat unpractical for daily family life due to them being overgrown, yet this Sorento, with its 19-inch alloy wheels, large rear spoiler, rear privacy glass, chrome side moulds and full colour coding, is well proportioned and looks fantastic.
This Sorento comes equipped with full dynamic LED lighting throughout; electric folding mirrors; panoramic roof; twin exhaust; red brake calipers and auto wipers along with an electric open/close tailgate. On opening this, it was like peering into a den with the huge boot space and with the second row of seats down, soon looked like a cave.
It was whilst looking in here that I noticed some climate control knobs, vents and cup holders in the trim at the side of the boot and being a super practical seven-seat SUV, soon realised that the sixth and seventh passengers get treated exceptionally well thanks to the Kia designers.
The third row of seating is hidden under the flat boot space and fold-up very easily to create two extra seats that are more than adequate for a primary aged child on a long journey, however as per most third row seating, not ideal for most average sized adults and when in use, the boot space becomes impractically small.
Due to the extra passenger ability and with its full black leather hide with grey stitching, the second row seating is on sliding rails and can also recline with the added bonus that the outer most seats are heated and with their own air supply between the two front seats and I am pretty sure there was 12v plugs as well as USB ports for charging devices in the rear.
Once seated in the front, I found the Sorento a nice height to get in and out from, and with a low seating position inside, it didn’t feel like I was in a crossover as such, but more like a car – the 10-way electrically adjustable and heated driver’s seat and 8-way electrically adjustable passenger seat is more than comfortable and offered decent support all round.
The steering wheel was easily adjusted into a comfortable position and all of the dash instruments were clear and easy to use. The 8 inch infotainment screen was also easy to navigate however I did find getting to the farther most left buttons a big stretch from the driver’s seat as it sat so flat to the dash.
From an 8-inch touch-screen, the Sorento offers DAB Radio, Bluetooth with streaming, USB & AUX connectivity, Sat Nav, 360 surround camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wireless phone charging and a fantastic sounding harman kardan Premium sound system.
With smart entry (aka key-less technology) and a start button on the dash, the 2.2 turbo diesel engine, once fired up is rather refined and with just shy of 200bhp, far from sluggish on the road as well as being more frugal than ever, thanks to the addition of the new 8-speed auto ‘box.
Pulling well through the gears, the engine and ‘box prove smooth and precise and over a few hours that I drove the car, averaged around 40mpg on mixed driving with claimed figures slightly higher, likely achievable. Driving wise the Sorento was pleasing and when pushed into bends gave some body roll, but not in an unexpected and unforgiving way.
Visibility on the road was fabulous all round when driving and to be honest pretty effortless which is always welcomed. What was even more welcomed was the Kia Intelligent All Wheel Drive system which to my surprise even had an electronic push button for locking the diff for those times when snow maybe gets a little deeper than expected.
With this AWD system the Sorento is more than capable of living a country lifestyle and indeed on a few of the gravel drives around Ireland Off Road Experience within Clandeboye Estate in the slightly older model last year, the big Kia soaked up all of the bumps and undulations with ease and in as much comfort as on the motorway.
For anyone looking a very affordable seven seater that can cope with a little towing, has the ability to live in the mountains and can do the school run with ease then seriously consider the Kia Sorento AWD, I was mightily impressed with it as was my wife and she is very particular when it comes to cars.
Words: Graham Curry