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MotorBar - New Car Reviews
Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi KX-2 AWD

Click to view picture gallery“First drivers stepped up to SUVs
  because they wanted all the fours;
  now they want the sevens too:
  a sixth and seventh seat. Suddenly
  all the big names in SUVs are making
  ’em — but if you don’t have a 50K
  budget, no problem because Kia
  has the ideal 7-seater 4x4 for you:
  the Sorento...”


AND PRICED BETWEEN 29K and 42K, Kia's flagship SUV is equipped to make its prestige-badged rivals look expensive. For the money the Sorento offers a hill of space and a heap of kit; and plenty of ability, too.

2018 marks the introduction of two new range-topping variants: the GT-Line and GT-Line S, along with a new eight-speed autobox that's standard-fit in the new 'GT' versions and optional with KX-2 and KX-3 grades. KX-1 (the entry-level model), KX-2 and KX-3 are all available with a six-speed stick shift — but it's a slick one.

“Even with four-wheel
drive and a near-five-
metre long, seven-seat
body, fuel economy
is close to 50mpg.
Officially the KX-2 is
rated at 47.1mpg but
we recorded an overall
test average of 44.6mpg
— and that’s the figure
you too can bank
on seeing...”
While there are five trim levels you'll find the same engine under every bonnet — a 2.2-litre turbodiesel that puts out 197bhp backed by a muscular 325lb ft of torque. But even with four-wheel drive and a near-five-metre long, seven-seat body, fuel economy is close to 50mpg; officially the KX-2 we've been driving this past week is rated at 47.1mpg.

Regular MotorBar visitors will know that in order to give you the worst-case real-world figures, we don't drive for economy — so when we recorded an overall test average of 44.6mpg you can believe that that's the figure you too can bank on seeing. And a pretty impressive one at that.

Good looks alone don't a SUV make, but from any angle the Sorento is a handsome-looking beast. Fronted by a deep chequered-effect upright version of Kia's trademark tiger-nose grille, flanked by stretched wraparound headlights and capped by a long profiled bonnet that runs back to a rakish swept-back screen, you won't miss it.

A low glasshouse and rising beltline run back along clean flanks punctuated by smart five-blade 18-inch alloy wheels filling black-edged wheelarches. At the back there's a tailgate spoiler and silver-painted skid plate that matches the one underscoring the front lower grille. Privacy glass to the rear side windows and tailgate glass completes 'the look'; one that cleverly cloaks its 4.8-metre length. Attitude? The Sorento's got it in spades.

While the Sorento gives off confident vibes in the concrete jungle, it's more than able to look after itself off-road. With a ground clearance of 185mm, damping that allows plenty of wheel travel, and with competitive approach and departure angles of, respectively, 16.9 and 21 degrees plus a ramp angle of 18 degrees, the Sorento is more than up for some leisure-oriented off-roading.

Its Dynamax intelligent electronically-controlled all-wheel drive system continuously monitors conditions and is able to anticipate when four-wheel drive will be needed so it's always in the right mode at the right time — normally it delivers 100 per cent of driving torque to the front wheels but it can adjust this up to a maximum 60:40 front-to-rear to enhance cornering stability or if road conditions deteriorate. In other words, all-wheel drive is only engaged when necessary, which is good news when it's time for a forecourt visit.

“Once seated, you’ll immediately appreciate the accommodating and generously-padded seats, edged around with effective bolstering, good support for your back and plentiful knee-room. Seat heating is standard and even the rear outer seats are heated and the driver additionally benefits from a sporty multifunction heated steering wheel...”
For off-road conditions and maximum grip on loose and muddy terrain, owners can manually select the Lock mode which locks-in a 50:50 torque split at speeds of up to 25mph. If you're going faster than that in the rough you're asking for trouble, even in a 100,000 off-roader.

On tarmac the compliant suspension takes the edge off craters and broken surfacing and the jolt out of on-kerb city parking. Sticking with on-road traction for a moment, the all-wheel drive system is paired with Kia's Advanced Traction Cornering Control.

Unlike some other 4x4 systems that manage wheelspin by braking a spinning wheel or cutting back engine torque, ATCC automatically and instantaneously transfers drive to those wheels which still have traction, even before the Electronic Stability Control intervenes to stabilise the car. So more grip, less fuss.

While we're talking all-wheel drive, it does of course benefit towing. With a manual 'box the Sorento is perfectly happy to haul a braked 2,500kg (2,000kg for autos) and to make matters easier the Sorento comes with self-levelling suspension and Trailer Stability Assist — both do exactly what their names say.

One major benefit of big cars like these — and the spacious Sorento is one of the roomiest seven-seaters around — is how easy it is to get in and out; the hip-points of the Sorento's black leather seats make it so easy to slide straight in without either clambering up or dropping down with a thump.

Once seated, you'll immediately appreciate the accommodating and generously-padded seats, edged around with effective bolstering, good support for your back and plentiful knee-room. Seat heating is standard and even the rear outer seats are heated (remember, this isn't a range-topper model, just the second one up of five). The driver additionally benefits from a sporty four-spoke multifunction heated steering wheel!

It's an airy, well-laid out cabin with an upmarket feel and everything where you'd expect it to be — and all of it easily reached. An eight-inch touchscreen claims pride of place in the centre of the fascia and delivers a full infotainment menu including crystal clear 3D mapping for the navigation (easy as it accepts full postcode destination inputs). Spoken directions can be totally relied upon and are given in good time, while motorway junction lane graphics are spot-on.

While the Sorento gives
off confident vibes in
the concrete jungle,
it’s more than able to
look after itself off-road.
With a ground clearance
of 185mm and damping
that allows plenty of
wheel travel, the Sorento
is more than up for
some leisure-oriented
off-roading...”
The large touchscreen makes tapping icons easy on the move, while 'hard' shortcut keys either side of the display take you direct to specific menus. A rear-view camera is also slaved to the infotainment screen, and there's also Bluetooth with music streaming, a DAB radio, 6-speaker audio system, USB and AUX ports as well as the 'can't do without them' Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone apps which offer voice control.

Just below the touchscreen, and high enough to be safely operated whilst driving, is the dual-zone automatic climate control panel. The main dials are traditional and unbeatable-for-clarity white-on-black items for revs and speed; and it's an easy glance to your left to take in the touchscreen which is conveniently set at the same height as the instrument panel. Between the dials is a driver's computer with that indispensable digital road speed readout.

Other kit that can be taken for granted includes an auto-dimming rearview mirror, powerfolding heated door mirrors (on demand and automatically on locking and leaving), drive away auto door locking, one-shot powered windows (all four), ambient lighting, cruise control and speed limiter, auto lights, rain-sensing wipers, plenty of in-cabin storage space, and, a thoughtful touch this, big sun visors with extending inner shades to cover that spot that always catches you out when the sun's low.

Safety items for the five-star EuroNCAP rated Sorento include a full set of airbags, Hill-Start Assist, Trailer Stability Assist, Electronic Stability Control, Downhill Brake Control, height-adjustable front seatbelts, Emergency Stop Signalling, front wiper de-icer, heated windscreen, LED daytime running lights, and an active bonnet to protect pedestrians.

Kia's 2.2-litre turbodiesel is a sensible choice for a large SUV — not so big that it slurps down fuel but big enough to make light work of hauling this seven-seater around. Especially when partnered with the manual gearbox which is definitely no hardship thanks to a clean change-action and six well-chosen ratios that stack up harmoniously with the 325lb ft of torque on tap. If the numbers matter to you, the stick-shift despatches the 0-60mph time in 8.7 seconds against the auto's 9.1. If you need to press on, then there's ample power to barrel along.

“If you’re not driving
and the front passenger
seat is already taken,
whatever you do, don’t
complain — because
that means you’ve
bagged the second-row,
and that’s actually
A Very Good Thing.
For a start the seats are
as well padded as the
front pair (often not
the case) and there’s
acres of room in all
directions with a fist of it
overhead and room
to really stretch
your legs...”
In town there's always plenty of burly oomph available, particularly for joining and crossing fast roundabouts and getting clean away at junctions; cruising at motorway speeds you'll barely hear the engine working and even when worked hard its responsiveness generates a likeable gravel-throated hum. Driven normally there's a wide enough spread of torque to let you cut back on your downshifts, all of which adds to its fuss-free driveability. Also operating smoothly in the background is Kia's economy-boosting ISG stop-start system.

While the comfort is important, above all else you feel safe in this Sorento — it feels well planted even in high winds on motorways and driving through torrential rain. And although close to five metres long it never feels unwieldy even in town traffic, which the electrically-powered steering makes light work of; plus you can weight up the helm by selecting its Sport setting.

The Sorento is an easygoing SUV to pilot, its brakes are effective and scrub speed smoothly while body lean is well managed, and thanks to front and rear sensors and a reversing camera, even parking this big seven-seater is an easy business.

As well as handling respectably the Sorento also rides respectably; bumps don't trouble it or its passengers, and usually tiresome motorway journeys are suddenly enjoyable courtesy of the laid-back ride.

If you're not driving and the front passenger seat is already taken, whatever you do, don't complain — because that means you've bagged the second-row, and that's actually A Very Good Thing. For a start the seats are as well padded as the front pair (often not the case) and there's acres of room in all directions with a fist of it overhead and room to really stretch your legs.

Added to that you can nestle down between the wide and comfy central armrest and the equally good outer one on the door. No central floor tunnel means even more room for feet and makes three-in-a-row not just doable but socially acceptable.

Secondly, if you decide not to recline your backrest (as much as 45-degrees should you so wish) and enjoy forty winks then you'll enjoy great views out for a spot of people-watching. Plus there's room in the door pockets for a bottle, and magazines or your tablet in the stretchy net pouches on the front seatbacks. Cupholders are, of course, provided.

On top of that you have your own air vents and power outlets (including a USB charging port). And another nice touch — all doors wrap-under the sills which not only cuts noise but means no dirty legs getting in or out in mucky weather.

Mixing and matching
passengers with cargo
is made easier by the
40:20:40-split and sliding
middle-row seats.
In fact, whatever carrying
requests or utilitarian
tasks you pitch
at the Sorento, it fields
them beautifully.
It’s not just big, this Kia, it’s big on practicality...”
The pair of adult-sized seats in the third-row pull out of the boot floor and snap easily into place whenever you need them — and you definitely don't need to be a Russian gymnast to get in or out.

Youngsters will love the exclusive feel of travelling right at the back, and even average build adults will be able to travel in them particularly as the middle-row slides fore and aft ten inches. More good news is that seats six and seven also have their own air-conditioning controls, trays-cum-storage bins and cupholders. All very civilised.

Lift the Sorento's high-opening tailgate and you'll be faced with a very large boot: 605 litres (that's with the third-row pair of seats folded away into the floor). Pull them out and there's still a bit of room left for some squishy bags — 142 litres, to be exact.

However most of the time most Sorento drivers are likely to be running in five-seater mode, which gives them a lot of boot to play with. And for those occasions when some cargo needs shifting then use the remote folding controls within the boot to drop the second-row of seats to free up a spacious 1,662-litre loadbay that's all the better to use thanks to a seamless and totally flat and level loadbay floor.

And for precisely those times when some serious load-lugging has to be done, the boot's cassette roller blind cover can be disappeared beneath the boot floor into its custom storage slot. Also down there is a very large storage bin along with a full-size alloy spare wheel. Other appreciated touches include the lip-free load sill at the end of the boot so no struggling to lift heavy items over — just slide them right in.

If you do need to mix and match passengers with cargo that's made infinitely easier by the 40:20:40-split and individually sliding middle-row seats that can be slid forward or back by 270mm either to extend the boot in five-seater mode or provide more leg room for those sitting in the third row. And don't forget the roof bars — they're good for 100kg. In fact, whatever carrying requests or utilitarian tasks you pitch at the Sorento, it fields them beautifully. It's not just big, this Kia, it's big on practicality.

33K is a very nice figure to pay for a genuinely comfortable, genuine seven-seater SUV. Why spend another 20K when the Sorento already comes well kitted with loads of versatile dual-usage space, is easy to drive and even goes easy on the fuel? ~ MotorBar
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Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi KX-2 AWD | 32,695
Maximum speed: 127mph | 0-60mph: 8.7 seconds | Test Average: 44.6mpg
Power: 197bhp | Torque: 325lb ft | CO2: 159g/km

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