Kia Sorento 1.6 HEV


    Not so long ago we used to consider Kia as very much a budget brand, their cars the kind of things you would buy simply because you needed (rather than wanted) a cheap run-around – albeit always a cheerful and reliable one. Kia though had other ideas. They headhunted their now chief designer from Audi, and moved their design centre from their home in Korea to central Europe, so as to appeal to a wider, more western marketplace. One look at their current line-up tells all you need to know about just how far they’ve come; if you’re not considering Kia and yet you’re still browsing around the likes of your local Vauxhall, Citroen, Ford, Renault etc. showrooms, you’re really are doing yourself an injustice. Make no mistakes, Kia make some very good stuff.

     My current case in point: Kia’s new Sorento.

   Kia see the latest version their seven seat SUV as an alternative not just to Skoda’s Kodiaq and its VW sister-brand SEAT’s Tarraco, but also as a rival to Land Rover’s Discovery Sport, perhaps even the Land Rover Discovery itself. Then there’s Volvo’s oh-so Scandi-chic XC90, Kia have their sights set there too. As my mother would say, “someone’s trying to do the big”.

    The question is can we now consider Kia a worthy rival to the significantly more established, and more, so-called, premium brands?

    Well they’ve certainly given everyone enough space in which to ponder such things. Where certain seven seat SUVs turn out to be significantly more 5+2, and thus offer rearmost accommodation for only the little people, the Sorento will happily seat normal sized adults furthest aft and keep them comfortable for significantly longer than it takes for just a quick ride across town. All rear seat passengers get their own cup holder, USB charging point, and even access to the heater controls; neither will they need to acquire the skills of contortionist to access their seat either. Quite where all seven of those adults are going to store their luggage though…That said, with the rearmost seats folded flat the new Sorento does offer huge load space.

     Up front, equipment levels are generous. Regardless of spec., all Sorentos get a beautifully clear digital driver’s display and a touchscreen infotainment system, soft touch materials aplenty, and Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition. Entry-level Sorentos do miss-out on goodies such as keyless entry and keyless start – you have to put the key in the ignition, how quaint. Sat-nav too is also absent. However, Kia fit Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard across the range, so once connected can use utilise your phone’s navigation apps instead. Slightly flat seats aside, all-in-all, the lofty set driver’s and front passenger perches of the Sorento turn out to be pretty good places to be – and the over-bonnet views great.

     If you’re planning to use the Sorento to tow, you might still be better off buying the diesel. I know, I know, diesel… nevertheless, the extra torque of the oil-burner – which incidentally you can only get in mid-range 3 spec - allows for a towing weight of 2,500kg. The 1.6 petrol-electric hybrid Kia lent us can only manage to drag 1,600kg. Both engines come with four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox, a plug-in hybrid is due soon.

    Needless to say perhaps, a seven seat Kia SUV is hardly the thing to get your inner racing driver excited, and the Sorento is definitely aimed more towards comfort than it is towards record breaking lap records or commute times. Nevertheless, you do get 226bhp and 258lb ft of torque as result the engine/44.2kW electric motor combination, and unladed the Sorento is claimed to hit 62 mph in 8.7 seconds. Electric assistance aside, the Sorento can’t always hide the fact that there are only 4 –cylinders displacing just 1,598cc behind its tiger face grille, and when worked hard you’re all too aware that Kia have chosen to fit a small engine in a big car. Drive the Sorento in the manner you’d expect it to be driven though, and you should easily see high 30s, maybe even low 40s mpg.

     Clearly, it pays to relax a little, and although not a barge handling-wise by any means, the Sorento will feel more rewarding if you do. The ride is comfy, it’s quiet – if you don’t demand too much of it – and it responds to you inputs without resorting to any excessive pitch or body roll. Yes, certain seven seaters are perhaps a tad more involving but none of them are what you’d actually call exciting.

      The Sorento does what it’s been designed to do brilliantly. It’s neither too luxurious to load the kids and to dog in, or too bargain-basement to turn-up to dinner in when the aforementioned are all safely tucked-up in bed. At nearly £40K it might appear expensive, especially-so if you’re the type to let its badge worry you. Arguably though, the new Kia Sorento might just prove itself one of the best seven seat SUVs you can buy.



 Kia Sorento “2” 1.6 HEV T-GDI Auto AWD


Engine: 1,598cc 4Cyl, 16V turbo-charged, petrol.

Transmission: 6-speed Auto, all-wheel drive.

Power:  226 bhp @ 5,500pm

Torque: 258 lb-ft. @1,500 – 4,500 rpm

0-62 MPH: 8.7 Sec

Max Speed: 119 mph

CO2: 158 g/km

MPG: 40.9 (WLTP combined)

Price: from £39,110 (on the road)


Many thanks to Lauren, Lisa and William, at KIA’s UK press office for the loan of the Sorento  



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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