Very comfortable and lavishly equipped, Kia has sold more than three million of the Sorento, its large, flagship SUV (sports utility vehicle) since its launch in 2002, with Europe accounting for 300,000 of those sales.
I spent a week behind the wheel of a petrol-electric hybrid version of the latest model, a 1.6 HEV T-GDI Auto AWD, in top-the-range ‘4’ trim.
With bold and elegant lines, the five-door Sorento ticks the box marked ‘stylish’. Its bodywork has a sculpted look, with contemporary geometric details, bringing definite kerb-appeal. Sitting on 19in alloy wheels, the car sports a rear spoiler, privacy glass and chrome door handles.
The cabin is a welcoming place to be, with premium materials to the fore. Spacious and versatile, this seven-seater’s interior is cossetting, a visual and tactile treat, blending metallic trim, leather upholstery, and embossed satin-effect surfaces for a sophisticated appearance with great ambience. Our car had black quilted Nappa leather upholstery.
The South Korean maker’s big motor has oodles of great, usable kit, including a panoramic sunroof with automatic electric roll-blinds, automatic headlight control, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, electrically-folding door mirrors with LED indicator lights, heated seats (front and outer rear), heated steering wheel, smart cruise control, smart powered tailgate and dual automatic air conditioning, with air con extending to the third row of seats, and ambient interior lighting.
You will also find, among other features, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, customisable head-up display, satnav, front and rear parking sensors, 360-degree around-view monitor, reversing camera and blind-spot camera, wireless mobile phone charger and a full connectivity suite.
Practicality? Features include illuminated glovebox, four USB charging ports, centre console and rear armrest cupholders, 1,996-litre load area (with seats folded), with light, luggage-net and hooks. The middle row of seats has slide, recline and 60/40 split-folding functionality while the third row folds down in 50/50 fashion. There is also a space-saver spare wheel.
Safety? Among the many features you will find ‘driver attention warning’, ‘lane follow assist’, ‘intelligent speed limit assist’ and ‘trailer stability assist’.
The Sorento Hybrid pairs a turbocharged 1.6-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine with a 1.49kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack and 44.2kW (59bhp) electric motor. The battery pack is located under the floor, with minimal impact on cabin or luggage space.
Producing 226bhp and 350Nm torque, this electrified powertrain combines low CO2 emissions with high levels of performance.
Power is sent through the six-speed automatic transmission via a transmission-mounted electrical device, allowing the full power of the engine and motor to be transferred in parallel with minimal loss of energy. The result is immediacy in acceleration response at any speed, with direct access to available battery power at higher speeds.
On the road
The car makes for a pleasing drive, from its elevated driving position to its quietly-smooth power plant, the whole experience enhanced by the luxurious cabin. Handling is confidence-inspiring and the Sorento is at home tootling around town, on country roads or taking in the motorway miles.
The electric motor gives plenty of zip from start-up, before the petrol engine takes over as the car gathers pace, seamlessly switching power modes.
The Sorento boasts ‘terrain mode’ to improve traction in tricky conditions. Easily selected by dial, the system automatically optimises the car’s intelligent all-wheel drive for low-grip surfaces – mud, snow and sand.
Performance/fuel figures are, 0-60mph in 8.7 seconds with a top speed of 119 mph, a combined fuel consumption of 38.2mpg and a CO2 figure of 169g/km (manufacturer’s data).
Comfortable and enjoyable to drive, the Sorento, with its seven year warranty, combines SUV practicality, good looks, a wealth of features and top tech for a premium motoring experience.
Price: £47,560 OTR