Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi

GT-line S Auto AWD

Kia Sorento, front
Kia Sorento, dynamic
Kia Sorento, rear
Kia Sorento, interior, rear
Kia Sorento, dashboard
Kia Sorento, boot
Kia Sorento, interior, middle
Kia Sorento, interior, front

THERE'S no shortage of options if you're looking for a family SUV, with the recent explosion in the popularity of such vehicles showing no sign of waning.

If you want extra passenger-carrying capability, however, the choice of those with seven seats is much more modest and dominated largely by Land Rover and the usual German suspects.

The latest Kia Sorento, though, is well worth considering as a left-field alternative - particularly, if your budget stretches to it, in range-topping GT-Line S guise.

While the prospect of paying almost £43,000 for a Kia will no doubt raise a few eyebrows, the brand has moved on in leaps and bounds in recent years.

The flagship Sorento is one of the roomiest seven-seaters on the road, bristles with high-tech toys and boasts the sort of finish that justifies the South Korean brand's premium aspirations.

Plush leather upholstery, dense soft touch surfaces, power adjustable heated and ventilated front seats with electric lumbar support; heated, reclining rear seats; heated steering wheel and dual-zone air conditioning are just some of the creature comforts that create a real premium feel in this car.

Premium-level kit extends to an easy-to-use eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, navigation, digital radio, 10-speaker audio, Apple and Android smartphone connectivity, rear view camera, 360-degree around-view monitor, adaptive cruise control, park assist, keyless entry and ignition and a powered tailgate.

You don't have to go for the range-topper, of course. If you can live with fewer bells and whistles there are five well-equipped trim grades with prices starting from just over £32,000 and, although Kia's certainly no longer in the bargain basement, all are competitively priced when compared to similarly specced rivals.

Whichever variant you plump for, though, you get the same 197bhp, 2.2-litre diesel power pack beneath the bonnet and the reassurance of the brand's intelligent four-wheel drive system.

The engine comes mated with a six-speed manual transmission in entry-level KX-1 trim but can be specified with a smooth eight-speed automatic in mid-range KX-2 and KX-3 cars, while GT-Line and GT-Line S get the auto as standard.

Acceleration is slightly slower with the automatic, although 0-60mph in 9.1 seconds is still sprightly enough for a car of the Sorento's imposing proportions and the top speed of 127mph is the same as with the manual.

The automatic suits the languid, relaxed nature of the Sorento, which is an effortless cruiser and possesses a supple enough suspension to smooth out any imperfections in the road surface.

The more forgiving set-up does mean some body roll is evident in corners, but that's par for the course in large SUVs, and the Sorento always feels secure thanks the that sophisticated 4x4 system, which includes a 50:50 lock mode for improved off-road capability.

The Sorento is a straightforward car to drive, that feels as solid and substantial from behind the wheel as it looks from the outside but is still flexible enough to be manageable in urban traffic, despite its dimensions.

Flexibility is also a key attraction inside the car, where the spacious cabin has plenty of head and leg room for five adults in five-seat configuration.

What's more surprising, though, is that adults, six-footers excepted, will not be too uncomfortable in the rearmost two seats on shorter journeys, although clambering in and out is a little tight, and they will also have their own storage cubby and cup holder as well as air conditioning controls.

With all seven seats in use there is also still a usable boot, albeit a small one, but with the third row folded flat and the 40/20/40 split middle row able to slide backwards and forwards as well as fold down there is up to 1,662 litres of loadspace available in a variety of configurations. In fact, practicality is not far off that of some of the better MPVs around.

FAST FACTS

Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi GT-line S Auto AWD

Price: £42,925

Mechanical: 197bhp, 2,199cc diesel engine driving all wheels via 8-speed automatic transmission

Max Speed:127mph

0-62mph:9.1 seconds

Combined MPG: 46.3

Insurance Group:25

C02 emissions:161g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 7 yrs/100,000 miles

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