Sorento ups the game

Road test: New Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi

The previous generation Sorento gained many friends among those needing a sensible and reasonably inexpensive tow car. Kia’s new model improves on a good specification but has also benefitted from the company’s excellent styling wand. We have praised Kia’s styling before here at Motor Writer and the Sorento is yet another model which does the company proud. We like the funky Sportage and the bigger Sorento takes enough of the good stuff without looking too bling. There is nothing too showy about the design and the simple surfaces and gentle styling cues mean the new Sorento should now have access to gravel driveways previously only available to vehicles with a green oval on the nose.

Changes don’t stop with the aesthetic. It’s now a monocoque shell, and although the same length as the previous version, it has a longer wheelbase giving room for seven seats and ample interior space. The cabin is a good
place to be; it isn’t over-the-top, but well-specified, sensibly laid-out and feels well-built. Giving a nod towards the premium competition, the dark door-and-dash inserts are neat and the graded red lighting beneath the door cappings is very elegant. The instruments are clear and the red back-lighting looks smart (when not on maximum brightness).

The engine isn’t particularly free-revving but feels strong and has a slightly gruff-but-capable sound. The revised version of the 2.2 litre turbodiesel engine gives a healthy 194bhp. There are good low-ish ratios for first and second gears – ideal for towing but not too low for normal use. Once rolling second has ample torque to pull away. Idling in first gear pulls the car along at steady 5mph. Progress is respectable for the diesel, with 0-60mph falling under that critical 10 seconds. For those who wish to tow, it’ll pull up to two-and-a-half tonnes of horse or caravan.

The new Sorento has had numerous changes to the suspension and the results are good, with minimal pitch or roll; the improved power steering aids feel and accuracy. The fairly tall tyres add to the ability to absorb bumps and encouraged a bring-it-on attitude to our nation’s crumbling carriageways. An adjustable lumbar support would have made the good seats great. I had the chance to drive the Sorento in about 4” (10cm) snow and even giving it some welly, its manners were impeccable. The Sorento’s improved brakes are keen, ideal for towing or heavy loads but just need a little care when unladen.

For its size, the Sorento is extremely manoeuvrable – easy controls, small turning circle, elevated driving position and large mirrors make parking a doddle. The ‘KX-2’ model, tested, comes with a rear-facing camera which aids accuracy and is ideal for backing-up to a trailer’s tow hitch. A small point – but one missed by many manufacturers: the electric mirrors can be folded-in with the ignition off. This means the car can be parked at the kerb, the key removed and road checked for cars before the button is pressed quickly and the door closed. (Honda, take note!)

For me, the week with the Sorento was very telling. Varying weather and terrain, mixed driving and traffic conditions and a variety of passenger combinations – all handled with aplomb. I’ll be honest here: I can’t find anything I don’t like in the new Sorento. The well-specified ‘KX-2’ sneaks in under £30k and over the week, including laden and stop-start traffic, it managed a very respectable indicated 35 mpg.

Kia Sorento 2.2 CDRi ‘KX-2’, at £28,895. Sorento range: £26,495 – £35,095

Power: 194 PS (3,800 rpm), torque: 422 Nm (from 1,800 rpm), emissions: 155g/km CO2 (band G), 0-60 mph: 9.4 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●●

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