The Kia Sorento is a full-size SUV that offers seven seats and four-wheel drive as standard, and represents a great leap forward for Kia in terms of comfort and build quality. While it's now less of a bargain than it once was, the current Sorento still offers good value for money, as it's better built and better to drive than the previous model. The Sorento goes up against rivals like the Hyundai Santa Fe, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5, while higher-spec models are priced to compete with the excellent Land Rover Discovery Sport.
With competition and prices like these, it's a good thing the latest Sorento looks every inch the premium product. The overall design is sleek and distinctive, while the spacious interior features plenty of high-quality, soft-touch plastics.
Although the Kia Sorento is only available with one engine, it suits the car well. The 197bhp 2.2-litre diesel is powerful enough to get it from 0-62mph in nine seconds flat, while fuel economy of 49.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 149g/km (for an annual road-tax bill of £145) are reasonable for a big seven-seat, four-wheel-drive SUV. It's an impressive engine, while Kia has also fitted plenty of sound-deadening material to the Sorento, helping to make the interior even more hushed. With the two third-row seats in place, luggage space is tight at 142 litres, but this is common with seven-seat vehicles. Fold those back seats down and the boot grows to a respectable 605 litres.
On the road, the Sorento features minimal body lean in corners, with plenty of grip thanks to the four-wheel-drive system. However, the steering is too light, with little ‘feel’ coming through the wheel. The Nissan X-Trail is a more enjoyable – if less powerful – car. Nonetheless, the overall driving experience is impressive for a car of the Sorento's size, and it makes an excellent motorway cruiser.
Inside, the Sorento features an easy-to-use dashboard, with excellent build quality and plenty of soft-touch plastics – although look hard and you’ll find some less impressive materials. It's not as sleek as the interior of the Audi Q5, but Kia fits the Sorento with a generous amount of standard equipment. Front and second-row passengers get plenty of headroom and legroom, while the third row of seats is perfect for children, although adults will find it a squeeze on longer journeys. Again, this is a hallmark of the majority of seven-seat cars.
Even the entry level Sorento KX-1 trim includes electric windows, rear parking sensors, cruise control, alloy wheels, air-conditioning and roof rails. We recommend KX-2 trim, though, as this adds heated leather seats, sat nav and a reversing camera. KX-3 and KX-4 models include luxuries like an power-operated boot, an upgraded stereo, a panoramic sunroof and keyless entry, but the Sorento becomes quite expensive in this form.
The Sorento performed well in our 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, coming 32nd out of 150 cars – a result that indicates Sorento ownership should be an enjoyable experience. A 100th-place finish for reliability is less impressive, but Kia's class-leading seven-year warranty should provide more than enough peace of mind. A five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP means the Sorento should also be a very safe car.