Kia Sorento SUV (2017 - ) review

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The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.7

The Kia Sorento is an impressive package. It gives you good looks, practicality and luxury equipment by the bucketload, but it won’t cost you the earth to buy or run. It also has a deeply impressive interior quality and is comfortable and relaxing to drive. And that’s exactly what a good family 4x4 should deliver. That said, some of the Sorento’s rivals – such as the Skoda Kodiaq – deliver all that for less money.

Pros

  • Practical, high-quality interior
  • Heaving standard kit list
  • Comfortable and relaxing to drive

Cons

  • Not as cheap to buy as you might expect
  • Running costs will be only so-so
  • Some safety kit only provided on high-end models
Pick of the range
2.2 CRDi KX-2 manual
Second-rung version gives you the right balance of kit and cost.
Best on a budget
2.2 CRDi KX-1 manual
Entry-level version has all the essential kit you'll really need.
Best avoided
2.2 CRDi GT-Line S auto
Nice car, but so are lower-grade Sorentos that cost thousands less.

Interested in buying a Kia Sorento?

How good does it look? 4/5

Style is very important to your average SUV buyer, and it’s something the Sorento delivers in spades. There’s plenty of visual chunkiness going on, with a big grille, LED-equipped headlamp units, and large front foglamps to add to the rugged 4x4 look you get from the jacked-up ride height and beefy bumpers.

All models come with alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and roof rails, but if you upgrade from the entry-level trim to KX-2 trim, you get some extra bits of chrome bodywork. Upgrade to one of the sportier trims – GT-Line and GT-Line S – and you get the cool ice cube-style foglamps found on Kia’s sportiest models.

What's the interior like? 4/5

If the Sorento is your first ever experience of a Kia, you’ll probably wonder how the company ever got lumbered with the unenviable reputation of being a ‘budget brand’. The quality on show inside the Sorento’s cabin is seriously impressive by anyone’s standards, with lush materials, robust assembly and fastidious attention to detail. The Sorento isn’t a cheap car, but there’s no doubt that, from the inside, it feels worth the money. The simple dashboard layout also makes most of the controls and functions easy to find and use, while the driving position offers loads of adjustment and a good view out.

How practical is it? 4/5

Even when compared with other large seven-seat SUVs, the Sorento does a cracking job. The middle row of seats has generous head and legroom, allowing tall passengers to stretch out, and there’s even enough space in the third row to accommodate adults reasonably comfortably. What’s more, there’s still a half-decent amount of boot space with all seven seats in place, and a massive loadspace when you’re travelling five-up. To cap it all, the middle row folds down completely flush when you need to maximise your cargo-carrying capability, meaning there are no steps or slopes in the gargantuan loadbay.

Criticisms? Well, the middle row is split 40/20/40, rather than having the three equally-sized individual chairs the most practical seven-seaters have, but we’re splitting hairs there. This is still a cracking family car.

What's it like to drive? 3/5

The Sorento isn’t the most polished car of its type to drive, but it does everything you want it to do with impressive ease. Most importantly, it provides a smooth, comfortable ride at any speed and on any surface. Models with bigger wheels do feel more jittery over pitted urban surfaces than those on smaller wheels, but it’s nothing that ruins the experience. Chuck in the quietness it displays on the road, and you have a car that’s very relaxing to drive long distances in. The Sorento doesn’t feel as sharp in the bends as some other big SUVs, but it always feels secure, and the steering is accurate and progressively weighted.

How powerful is it? 4/5

There’s just one engine available in the Sorento, a 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel. With 200 horsepower, it’s not short of grunt, and this grunt is delivered from low revs and across a wide portion of the rev range, making it an impressively flexible companion. You rarely have to work it hard, or chop around unnecessarily on the six-speed manual gearbox, to make decent progress. The Sorento is also available with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and it acquits itself, shifting smoothly and seamlessly at all times.

How much will it cost me? 3/5

If you’re expecting the Sorento to be a cheap option, don’t. It’s very similar in price to many other big seven-seat SUVs, while some – most notably the excellent Skoda Kodiaq – are available for a lot less. The Kodiaq and Land Rover Discovery Sport are also available with smaller engines and without four-wheel drive, which makes them even more affordable, while that’s not an option with the Sorento. That said, the big Kia comes with more standard kit than most rivals, so it’s still pretty good value for money, and resale values shouldn’t be too ruinous, either. Whichever version you choose, you’ll get an official average fuel economy figure just shy of 50mpg, and there’s less than 1mpg between the best and worst variants, and the same trend occurs with CO2 emissions. That puts it there-or-thereabouts with its rivals for efficiency.

How reliable is it? 4/5

Look at surveys like the Warranty Direct Reliability Index, and you’ll see Kia’s products do a solid – if not mind-blowing – job of proving dependable. The brand currently ranks mid-table in the study’s manufacturer rankings. As an individual model, however, the Sorento (in previous generations) has been one of Kia’s weakest performers, with a very mediocre score. That said, there’s no arguing with the company’s very generous seven-year/100,000-mile warranty.

How safe is it? 3/5

These days, it’s getting rarer for cars to have a different amount of safety kit depending on which trim you go for, but that’s the case with the Sorento. All models come with the basics, including stability control, six airbags and active front headrests, but you have to upgrade to third-rung KX-3 trim if you want lane-departure warning, automatic high-beam headlamps and a speed-limit information function.

You have to upgrade to range-topping GT-Line S trim for things like blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert and – most notably – autonomous emergency braking. When lots of much smaller, much cheaper cars have this important feature as standard throughout the range these days, this looks a little stingy from Kia. The car received the full five-star crash safety rating from Euro NCAP back in 2014, but the standards have become tougher since then, and the fact that automatic braking isn’t standard across the board means it’s unlikely the car would achieve that score were it tested today.

How much equipment do I get? 4/5

The Sorento comes in a variety of flavours, starting with the KX-1. Even this one comes with generous standard equipment including air-conditioning, four electric windows, cruise control, remote locking, rear parking sensors, leather-trimmed steering wheel and an infotainment system that brings together a DAB radio, Bluetooth phone connection and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay,

We still reckon it’s worth the upgrade to the KX-2 trim, though, because it adds rain-sensing wipers, front parking sensors, leather seats, heated front and outer-middle seats, automatic climate control and an upgraded touch-screen infotainment system that brings sat-nav and a reversing camera.

The KX-3 adds a panoramic roof, powered seats, keyless entry, a powered tailgate, an upgraded sound system and clever headlights that bend their main beams around oncoming cars.

GT-Line trim is based on the KX-2, but in addition to the sporty styling, it also gets the keyless entry and powered seats. The GT-Line S version, at the pinnacle of the range, gets the lot, including a self-parking function, a 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control and ventilated seats.

Why buy? 4/5

Because you want as much space, practicality and equipment as you can get for your money, and you don’t want to compromise on style or quality in order to get it. If that’s you, the Kia Sorento is a cracking option. However, there are other options – such as the Skoda Kodiaq – that provide all the Sorento’s attributes for considerably less cash.

Interested in buying a Kia Sorento?