In-depth reviews

Kia Sorento SUV review

"The big Kia Sorento is a versatile SUV that's nipping at the heels of premium rivals"

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

Owners Rating
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Pros

  • Excellent practicality
  • Efficient engine range
  • Upmarket interior

Cons

  • High CO2 emissions
  • Increasing price
  • Heavy

Verdict - Is the Kia Sorento a good car?

The Kia Sorento was Carbuyer Car of the Year in 2021, which should give you some idea of whether we consider it a good car or not. That said, prices have gone up since we first reviewed the large SUV, and the cheaper trims have been discontinued. Priced from more than £50,000 for the only trim level currently available, it isn’t the bargain family car it once was. Here’s hoping more affordable versions are brought back soon, because a spacious cabin and a strong plug-in hybrid powertrain continue to make it an attractive option for families and company car drivers.

Kia Sorento models, specs and alternatives

The Kia Sorento is a former Carbuyer Car of the Year and continues to rank among the best large SUVs to buy. It’s a hugely practical and reliable seven-seater, which also has an excellent safety record.

Launched in late 2020, the Sorento comes with three powertrain options: hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and diesel. Those looking for a pure-electric option should hold out for the Kia EV9 that we’ve reviewed separately; for now, only the Sorento Plug-in Hybrid offers the kind of low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax ratings that company car choosers look for.

Best large SUVsTop 10 best large SUVs 2024

Sitting on an all-new platform, the Sorento is 10mm longer than before – boasting a huge 600 litres of boot space. The front grille now has a chrome border that extends beyond the narrow LED headlights, giving it a tough, aggressive look. At the rear, the lights have been swapped for vertical units inspired by the larger Kia Telluride SUV sold in America.

Every version gets all-wheel drive, though if you’re after an accomplished off-roader then rivals like the Land Rover Discovery are a better bet. It might seem odd to be comparing the Kia with premium models like the Disco, but the Sorento’s high-end interior and long kit list mean those parallels aren’t as far-fetched as you might think. We wouldn’t be surprised to see BMW X5 and Audi Q7 drivers giving the Sorento serious consideration.

More mainstream competitors span everything from the Skoda Kodiaq and Nissan X-Trail, to the slightly smaller Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace and the five-seat Honda CR-V. The Hyundai Santa Fe is also worth a mention, given it shares its basic platform and engines with the Kia, but starts from a lower price thanks to more affordable trims being offered.
 

To cope with increasing supply issues, Kia has condensed the Sorento range for 2023 into just one model: the Edition trim – something that isn’t likely to change at least for this model year. Starting from around £50,000, the Sorento Edition comes highly equipped with LED headlights, Nappa leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, a 360-degree camera system and a plethora of safety features as standard.

Of course, while this impressive level of kit will appeal to those looking for a bargain alternative to a Volvo XC90, the new higher price tag over the old entry-level ‘2’ model may alienate some buyers until cheaper versions return.

New Kia Sorento facelift images leaked

The Kia Sorento is due a mid-life facelift – pictures have now leaked, revealing a new look that follows the EV9’s design language

Kia Sorento facelift

The current generation Kia Sorento has been around since 2020, so it’s due a facelift. Starting with the Kia EV9, and soon to feature on the updated Kia Picanto, the brand has been rolling out a new look across its range, dubbed by the car maker as ‘Opposites United’ – these leaked images of the facelifted Kia Sorento show the new look will be coming to the mid-size SUV.

The most prominent styling cue on the new Kia Sorento are the redesigned headlights, which are now T-shaped, curving round under the bonnet and flanking the edges of the car. The grille is also now a slightly different shape and there’s a space between it and the vertical part of the headlights.

Kia Sorento facelift rear

The rear redesign is less pronounced, with the four-piece tail light set-up now replaced by two-piece elements that join at the top. This also incorporates a new light signature shaped like an upside-down L. Where the old ‘Sorento’ badge used to be spaced out evenly over the bootlid, it has now been made smaller and moved to the left side.

On the inside, the interior has had a more drastic overhaul, featuring a more minimalist look. The centre vertical air vents of the outgoing model have been swapped for subtler horizontal ones and the climate controls appear to have been taken from the EV6. The physical shortcut buttons on the side of the infotainment screen of the outgoing model also appear to have been removed. 

Kia Sorento facelift interior

At present, the Sorento is offered with the choice of a 190bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine or a 226bhp 1.6-litre petrol hybrid engine. There’s also a plug-in hybrid which uses the same 1.6-litre unit paired with a 13.8kWh and electric motor for a total output of 261bhp. The updated car is expected to be offered with the same powertrain options, although it’s possible the hybrid models’ electric motors could be upgraded for better fuel economy and improved performance.

All versions of the Sorento are also expected to remain four-wheel drive and should get different driving modes such as ‘Mud’, ‘Snow’ and ‘Sand’ for off-road applications.

Although the current Sorento is offered in just one ‘Edition’ trim level in an effort to streamline production, it’s possible the facelifted model could reintroduce more basic models, making the Sorento cheaper than the outgoing model, which starts from £49,590.

Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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