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Kia Sorento SUV (2011-2015) - Engines, drive & performance

The Kia Sorento SUV’s diesel engine is decent, but it doesn’t handle well

Carbuyer Rating

3.6 out of 5

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.0 out of 5

On the road, the Kia Sorento is comfortable rather than sporty to drive, which is more appropriate for family buyers and also makes it more bearable for working duties such as towing or driving over rough ground. Its light steering makes for easy manoeuvring but doesn’t inspire much confidence in bends. The suspension smooths out bumps well, yet also creates quite a lot of body lean when the car is driving around corners.

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KX-2 models and above come with self-levelling suspension to improve ride quality on rough surfaces, while the higher-spec KX-3 and KX-4 models have Kia’s FlexSteer system, which allows you to toggle between normal, comfort and sport modes to change how the steering feels.

Kia Sorento diesel engines

There’s only one diesel engine available with the Kia Sorento – petrol power isn’t an option. That might sound too simple when you consider that a lot of cars are available with an incredible amount of different engines, but limiting buyers to just the one, large diesel engine makes absolute sense for a big SUV like the Sorento.

Any size of petrol engine would be unlikely to match the fuel economy or mid-range power of a big diesel, while smaller diesels simply wouldn’t have the clout to haul such a large car along and would struggle with the kind of off-roading or towing duties of which the big Kia is capable.

The 2.2-litre CRDi engine is powerful enough to make the Sorento feel reasonably quick and it strikes a pretty good balance with fuel economy when you consider the sheer size of the car. Manual Sorentos will hit 62mph from rest in 9.4 seconds, which is quite swift for such a hefty car, while the automatics take 9.5 seconds.

There’s a lot of mid-range pulling power, which makes the Kia good for long motorway trips and towing, while it’s also competent if you plan to use it off-road thanks to the standard four-wheel drive. Capable as the Sorento’s engine is, though, it does get quite loud when you accelerate hard.

The manual gearbox is fine and models fitted with it have the best fuel economy and emissions figures in the range. Automatic versions are a little more expensive to buy and run, but they’ll suit anyone who spends most of their time driving around town.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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