TIMES have changed dramatically since the original Kia Sorento first took to the road 14 years ago proving to us all just how good it was both on and off-road.
Since then the brand has moved more and more up-market while at the same time retaining its original concept of offering value for money vehicles.
And nowhere is that more obvious than in the latest Sorento which offers the sort of features normally associated with premier German brands.
The third generation Sorrento - the current flagship of the brand - is longer and wider than its predecessor but is also lower with a more sporty, swept-back design which disguises its increase in size.
Given its dimensions it should look bulky but clever designers have allowed the vehicle to grow in order to create more interior space while at the same time looking sleek from the outside.
Build quality is impressive too. All the doors close with the gentlest of pushes and there is a solidity about the Sorento which oozes quality.
The interior is welcoming but comes with an air of superiority thanks to quality leather upholstery and a host of features which make it a car which is easy to live with.
The electrically operated seats are multi-adjustable and are heated in both the front and rear of the vehicle and a heated steering wheel spoils you by eliminating the need for gloves on cold days.
Features on my KX-3 model - one below the top spec version - included a panoramic sunroof with automatic one-touch blind, xenon headlights with automatic levelling, satellite navigation with European mapping and a power operated tailgate.
All models in the range now come with seven seats, the third row of which fold into the floor to give a flat load bay with a very generous 605 litres of space available.
When all seven seats are in use the luggage area drops to just 142 litres which is just about enough for the weekly shopping but most motorists will rarely use seven seats and it's nice to have them when you need them.
The Sorento is powered by a 2.2-litre, 192bhp diesel engine which pulls this 2.5-tonne giant around with consummate ease, offering generous torque and lively acceleration for such a big vehicle.
A lot of work has obviously been done on soundproofing because the latest Sorento is impressively quiet.
Get behind the wheel - you are welcomed by musical tones as you sit down - and you soon find that despite its size the Sorento is light to drive and easy to handle while at the same time having a stable feel to it.
There is some body roll but no more than you would expect of a vehicle capable of dealing with tough off-road work.
The high driving position ensures good all-round visibility and reverse parking is easy thanks to the belt and braces approach of parking sensors and a rear view camera.
There is permanent four-wheel-drive but in normal operation all the torque goes to the front wheels and only divides up when any slippage is detected.
For serious off-road work you can, with the flick of a switch, divide the power 50:50 to each axle.