Kia value hard to

beat

Kia Sorento, front
Kia Sorento, side
Kia Sorento, rear
Kia Sorento, front
Kia Sorento, boot
Kia Sorento, interior

THERE is nothing like a decent drive to lift your spirits and I recently had to travel down to Lambourn in Berkshire across the Wiltshire/Berkshire downs.

The journey down and back was courtesy of Kia's big and much improved Sorento 4x4.

It's up against the premium brands of course, and with this latest model, the company has done much to raise standards both inside and out.

Make no mistake, this is a big, spacious vehicle, which is available with an extra pair of seats for children or adults, that pop up very easily from the boot floor.

So it can carry seven in comfort, or five with all their bag and baggage for a couple of weeks holiday.

Add excellent comfort over most surfaces, and performance easily good enough to handle the weight, plus a seven year warranty, and you have a real contender to set against the Land Rover Discovery or BMW X3, but at a fraction of their prices for the same high spec.

All the models in the range are powered by the same 2.2-litre diesel engine with part time four wheel drive (4WD), and the KX-3 I drove had an eight speed automatic gearbox.

The smooth power unit produces a very good 197bhp, and even with a large body to pull around, acceleration of 9.3 seconds to 62mph is quite acceptable.

Soundproofing is very good, so that the engine note only becomes really noticeable at higher revs, and you rarely have to go there so it's never a problem.

Road and wind noise are also very well subdued, and this means that occasional bump-thump from the very large wheels and tyres over bigger road blemishes is all that comes through to the cabin at speed.

The eight speed automatic gearbox is particularly smooth and seamless and makes driving the Sorento a calm and serene experience.

It also comes with Kia's drive mode selection, which offers three settings to adjust the weight of the steering and the gearbox change up and down points, but in reality, I found the standard Normal mode suited me fine.

Official economy with the eight speed gearbox is 46mpg. That equates to around an excellent 36 in the real world, which is right up with or better than the opposition.

For a big 4x4, the handling and roadholding are also particularly good, with much better body control than previous models.

This means that it takes the corners neatly, pushing on to understeer only when heavily provoked, which few owners are likely to do.

Comfort is excellent over almost all surfaces. It brushes off most speed humps with disdain, and managed a particularly rough piece of country road with nothing more than a slight increase in tyre noise!

A long wheelbase and excellent head and legroom, plus very good seats, mean that even if seven people are aboard, they all ride comfortably.

The quality of the interior is very good, and again, up with most of the opposition. Soft touch plastics cover every surface, and the switches and controls are all satisfyingly smooth.

The equipment in the KX-3 is truly excellent at the price - and don't forget it also comes with Kia's seven year, 100,000 mile warranty - something which none of the competition even comes close to.

That equipment includes an alarm system, sat nav with an eight inch screen, Bluetooth, aux-in and USB, parking sensors and a rearview camera, and heated and electrically adjusted leather seats.

It also has a multi-function steering wheel, heated mirrors, active cruise control that speeds up and slows down automatically in traffic, DAB radio, blind spot detection, sunroof and even a self parking function.

FAST FACTS

Price:£39,650

Mechanical:197bhp, 2,199cc, 4 cylinder diesel engine driving all four wheels via 8spd automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 127mph

0-62mph:9.3 secs.

Combined MPG: 46

Insurance Group: 27

C02 emissions:161g/km

Bik rating:37%

Warranty:7 yrs/100,000 miles

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