Kia Sorento SUV

£28,795 - £41,000

The 2015 Kia Sorento represented a step forward for Kia in terms of refinement, image and price. A new Sorento can be yours for between £30-£40,000, which pitches it squarely at rivals like the Hyundai Santa Fe, Honda CR-V while also edging it into Land Rover Discovery Sport territory. It's fortunate, therefore, that the Kia backs up these ambitions with seven seats as standard, an impressive specification and an industry-best seven-year warranty.

Kia's upmarket aspirations are also evident from the Sorento's front-end design, which may remind some buyers of an Audi. We’re not saying that's a bad thing: in the metal, the Sorento looks mature yet distinctive. The interior continues this theme of refinement, with a cabin that's both spacious and well made.

The Kia Sorento is available with only one engine: a development of the strong and efficient 2.2-litre turbodiesel fitted to the previous-generation car and we’ve no complaints about it here. Extra sound-deadening means the cabin never feels anything other than hushed, while the engine's 197bhp ensures plenty of pulling capability, even with a fully loaded car. This engine, combined with a standard four-wheel-drive system, makes the Sorento excellent for towing a caravan or horsebox.

As the Sorento is a large SUV with a focus on refinement and pulling power, it's no surprise to find it doesn’t provide the most involving driving experience. It's not a poor car to drive by any means: three driving modes – Eco, Sport and Normal – keep it composed on the road and body lean in corners is well controlled. Rivals such as the Nissan X-Trail offer seven seats while providing a more enjoyable driving experience, although the Kia Sorento is significantly more powerful than the X-Trail.

Kia follows the trend of large SUVs moving away from their off-road roots towards MPV practicality by not only providing seven seats, but also offering huge load-carrying ability. Flip the two back rows of seats down and you could be fooled into thinking you owned a very refined and well-appointed van, such is the amount of space on offer. With seats up, the Sorento is a spacious car, providing good leg and headroom.

The Sorento is available in four trim levels, ranging from KX-1 to KX-4. Even the basic KX-1 Sorento comes with electric windows all round, alloy wheels, air-conditioning and roof rails. We’d recommend the KX-2, as it keeps the Sorento closer to £30,000 rather than £40,000 while adding sought-after extras like dual-zone climate control, satellite navigation and a reversing camera – a particularly necessary feature for such a large car.

The 2015 Kia Sorento should be a reliable car, sharing as it does many of its underpinnings with the car it replaced. That it manages to do this while feeling modern and refined is a testament to the engineers at Kia. Any niggling doubts should be laid to rest by the seven-year warranty Kia is confident enough to offer owners. This should help resale values, too, as it's transferable should you sell your Sorento within those seven years.

Sorento buyers can also be confident in the car's safety, as it scored the full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test. The Sorento also comes as standard with a long list of modern safety equipment, such as Vehicle Stability Management, which keeps it stable when braking and cornering.