THERE are no shortage of qualities that endear you to the latest Kia Sorento.
For starters, it has a seven year warranty, then there's the acres of space with room for seven onboard, or the long list of goodies from heated seats front and rear to leather seat trim.
But it wasn't any of the above that so won me over to the big SUV within minutes of climbing in. It was the simplicity of the fascia and its controls.
Having spent the last few weeks behind the wheel of cars that bristled with the latest, irritating technology to operate heating, air con and audio systems, it was refreshing to find the Sorento could be made warmer at the simple twist of a knob.
A similar story applied to the air con and the sat nav. Too often technology makes life more fiddly rather than its real purpose which is to improve the driver's lot. Try adjusting the temperature via a touchscreen while be joggled up and down on a bumpy road...
Recently refreshed and rejuvenated with a sporting flourish and a new eight speed automatic gearbox, the flagship model is the GT-Line S which comes in at a not inconsiderable £42,925, which is Audi and BMW territory.
There are cheaper versions from around £30k, but the GT-Line S packs in just about every nicety you could wish for, including opening glass panoramic roof. Power is from a four cylinder turbo diesel engine that pushes out a healthy 197bhp.
As its appearance implies this is not really a sporty set of wheels - despite the rather strange inclusion of bright red brake callipers. It is more a comfortable and commodious family wagon which has the ability to traverse a muddy field or an icy slope thanks to intelligent four wheel drive.
There's ample power for most circumstances and the Sorento cruises coolly and calmly at way above the legal limit with little wind or mechanical fluster. Start-up is audibly diesel with a tell-tale rattle but after that it has a decent level of refinement.
Ride is much improved over earlier models with good composure over poor surfaces and well controlled body roll during swift cornering.
Power normally goes to the front wheels but when conditions get ropey there's a 60-40pc split between front and rear axles. For off-road stuff you can manually select ‘lock' which gives a 50-50 torque split.
It's a large car with ample passenger room for five with the final row of seats folded, leaving a useful 605 litres of luggage room. Fold down the second row and there's 1,622 litres available. Even with three rows in place and a full load of passengers 142 litres of cargo can be carried.
Folding or erecting the final row of seats is done in a trice at the pull of a strap.
The fascia and cabin styling is right up there with the best - lots of soft-touch plastics, solid switchgear and a genuinely robust, quality about it.
Despite its size and shape, most drivers will get close to the 35mpg mark during normal motoring. My own average was 34.5mpg.