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Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi KX-2 SatNav AWD

Click to view picture gallery“Fancy a BMW X5 or Land Rover
  Discovery but want to pay between
  27K and 35K instead of 40-64K?
  No problem
just lose the badge.
  Settle for a different label and you
  can buy an SUV that seats seven and
  comes with a host of kit and a no-
  nonsense seven-year warranty
  unmatched for its level of cover and
  peace of mind

FRESH FROM AN INTENSE MAKEOVER that goes deep under the skin, the Kia Sorento has been re-engineered from nose-to-tail and top-to-bottom. Basically, thanks to a lightweight all-new platform with a revised suspension, steering and brakes and a lower ride height driving dynamics and refinement are all improved.

Additionally, a major interior upgrade has raised quality and standard equipment and every model is powered by a revised version of Kia's 2.2-litre CRDi turbodiesel and comes with seven seats and all-wheel drive. Now that's what you call a makeover!

What hasn't changed is the Sorento's footprint: still a road-friendly smidgen under 4.7 metres long and 1.9 metres wide. Plus, thanks to some internal stretching, those riding in rows two and three now enjoy extra legroom.

“Climb aboard through
deep, wide-opening,
car park-friendly doors
and immediately you feel
safe and secure —
the Sorento feels sturdy
and substantial...
Climb aboard through the deep, wide-opening, car park-friendly doors and you immediately feel safe and secure the Sorento feels big, sturdy, and substantial. The cabin looks smart and feels decidedly 'clubby' thanks to seriously well padded seats that are as comfy as any you'll find in a car costing twice as much, smooth leather upholstery, soft-touch trim, ambient lighting, and aluminium sill scuff plates.

Even the sun-visors (they extend inwards to block the sun from that irritatingly often-missed area between the rear-view mirror and the visors) are cloth-lined for a more tactile experience. Another well-considered touch the centre boss of the grippy multifunction wheel (audio, phone, driver's computer, cruise, and voice) is finished in satin black and titanium so no distracting glare off the wheel on sunny days.

Predominantly black themed, the cabin ambience is nonetheless airy, lifted by plenty of chrome and satin aluminium highlights and glossy black wood grain finishes to the doors, centre console and the fascia.

Instrumentation and controls are spot-on; traditional analogue dials cover speed, revs and the usual temp and fuel bright white figures on black faces with glowing red pointers make them easy to read night and day.

Other kit making life easy for those travelling in the Sorento's front seats include height adjustable front seatbelts, easy door pulls with wide outer armrests, one-shot power windows, bottle-holding door bins, cupholders, a large glovebox, centre lidded armrest with plenty of room for sharing and a deep bin below that's big enough to store most bottles, two 12V power and USB and Aux sockets, three-stage heated seats, headrests that also adjust for neck angle, and decent built-in lumbar support.

That's in addition to the driver's equipment which includes a crystal clear touchscreen inset high on the centre stack where it's easy to see with 3D navigation and a reversing camera with a helpful 'grid' display for easier parking, an 'ever-popular' traditional handbrake, auto lights 'n' wipes, and automatic climate control that serves the rear cabin too. And it goes without saying that setting a perfect driving position can be done in seconds. Helped by good-size door mirrors, visibility out is fine although you'll still be glad of the rear-view camera.

“The latest Sorento still
majors on the no-
nonsense yet rugged
upright design of its
Excellent news for third
row passengers is that
the ‘squared-off' tail
ensures they enjoy plenty
of headroom...
Externally, like Porsche with its 911, the new Sorento's looks are of the 'evolutionary' kind: while much has changed under the skin, outwardly the latest Sorento still majors on the no-nonsense yet rugged 'upright' design of its predecessor (and there's nothing wrong with that, either). The most obvious external change, if you really must know, are the new LED running lights. More importantly, and excellent news for third row passengers, is that the 'squared-off' tail ensures they enjoy plenty of headroom.

Under the Sorento's bonnet beats a four-pot 2.2-litre turbodiesel that kicks out a smooth 194bhp and 311lb ft between 1,800 and 2,500rpm and the hefty torque makes light work of towing a caravan, speedboat or horsebox (upto a braked 2,500kg).

A six-speed manual 'box is standard (an auto is available should you prefer not to change gears yourself) and top speed is 118mph with 0-60mph in 9.4 seconds. Long journeys are stress free thanks to the cabin remaining satisfyingly peaceful.

For many buyers the figures of interest are those relating to economy: officially, 38.2, 56.5, and 47.9mpg respectively for the urban, extra-urban, and combined cycles. Real-world driving saw an average 40.1mpg registered at the end of our week behind the wheel. PDG (Pretty Damn Good) for a large all-wheel drive SUV. Another agreeable trait the six-speed manual gearbox comes with a sweet, foolproof change action; especially welcome if you're towing.

KX-1 might be the 26,495 range-starter trim level, but it comes with plenty of equipment including dual-zone automatic AirCon with rear-seat air ventilation (allowing all seven occupants to fine-tune the temperature in their own personal space), aero-blade front wipers with front wiper de-icer system, projection headlamps with cornering lights, powerfold electrically-adjustable and heated door mirrors with LED indicator lights, LED daytime running lights, ambient cabin lighting, cloth-wrapped extendable sun-visors (with illuminated vanity mirrors and ticket holder), Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming, cruise control, reversing sensors, power steering, intelligent all-wheel drive, self-levelling suspension, Electronic Stability Control, Hill-Start Assist, plenty of airbags, active front headrests, alloy wheels and, that rarity, a full-size matching alloy spare wheel!

KX-2 versions (29,995) add rain-sensing front wipers, black leather upholstery, one-shot up/down electric windows all round, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, reversing camera system, tinted and privacy glass, heated front seats, USB and Aux ports with iPod cable, drive-away auto door locking, leather-trimmed instrument panel, luggage net, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

For many buyers
the figures of real interest
are those relating to
economy — real-world
driving saw an average
of 40.1mpg recorded. Pretty damn good for a
large all-wheel drive
The KX-2 SatNav version adds a 7-inch touchscreen navigation system with European Mapping and Traffic Messaging Channel. The navigation feature is combined with an upgraded 10-speaker premium hi-fi delivering 495 watts of power; it includes a central speaker, sub-woofer and an 11-channel DSP external amplifier for maximum surround-sound quality.

Getting in and out of the second row is easy, and once there you sit about six inches higher than those in the front so views out are good. Seats are well padded and it's roomy in all directions, with a fist of headroom, decent knee room and loads of foot room no central tunnel means plenty of room for not just two but three pairs of feet. An adjustable backrest that goes from upright to semi-reclined and decent legroom ensures your rear passengers can lounge back and truly enjoy the journey.

And it's even comfy sitting in the middle. If there's just two using the second row then they get to share the large centre armrest while making good use of the outer armrests on the doors; twin cupholders in the centre armrest, magazine nets on the front seatbacks, bottle-holding door pockets and dedicated second row AirCon air vents in the B-pillars all add to the pleasure of being a rear seat passenger in the Sorento — in fact, falling asleep is a distinct possibility!

You might not need seven seats very often but it's nevertheless handy to have them available should you need them, which is why Kia no longer offers a five-seater. Seats 6 and 7 in row three are proper seats that adults can fit in, although teens and youngsters will be better off travelling there. Access is helped by the second row's 60:40 split seats that double fold to make it easier to enter and exit the third row. Third row travellers also get their own AirCon with fan-speed control.

Fold down all row two and row three seats (split 50:50 with both halves folding fully flat to give a level cargo bay) and you create a 1,530-litre flat-floored load area; going the other way, use all the five rear seats for passengers and you'll still have 116 litres left for luggage. Loading and unloading is no hassle thanks to a light-to-lift tailgate with a generous opening and a mid-thigh load sill. A luggage net keeps items where you placed them, plus there's additional storage space in a deep, full-width locker under the boot floor.

“The 2.2-litre turbodiesel
kicks out a smooth
194bhp and 311lb ft of
torque between
1,800 and 2,500rpm —
and makes light
work of towing a caravan,
speedboat or
Underpinning the Sorento's new chassis are MacPherson struts with coil springs and gas-filled dampers at the front and a fully independent multi-link set-up with gas-filled dampers bringing up the rear. Combined with standard-fit self-levelling suspension it makes the Sorento very comfortable to travel in. Press on and, yes, there's a touch of body lean as you'll find in just about any tallish 4x4. But nothing to worry about. And, the acid test: nothing to trouble your passengers.

Drive at the legal limit on any UK motorway even in poor weather and the Sorento feels stable and secure; the electric motor-assisted rack and pinion steering is fine and the brakes' vented front and rear discs deliver powerful and well-judged stopping power. And it's doubly reassuring to know that between you and the tarmac is four-wheel grip and traction.

The Kia's all-wheel drive system defaults to front-wheel drive during routine driving conditions but the instant a front wheel loses grip more torque is diverted to the rear wheels to maintain traction. And at any time the driver can press a switch to manually select 'lock' mode this splits torque evenly between the front and rear axles for superior stability.

Kia is the go-to brand for family drivers who want the four-wheel drive versatility and practicality of an X5 or Discovery along with seven seats but whose budgets (self imposed or of necessity) top out at 35K, not 64K. Whichever Sorento model you buy, you won't be, and most certainly won't feel, short-changed by choosing the Kia.

Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi KX-2 SatNav AWD | 29,995
Maximum speed: 118mph | 0-60mph: 9.4 seconds | Test Average: 40.1mpg
Power: 194bhp | Torque: 311lb ft | CO2 155g/km