Kia raises bar with

new Sorento

Kia Sorento, 2020, front
Kia Sorento, 2020, side
Kia Sorento, 2020, rear
Kia Sorento, 2020, interior
Kia Sorento, 2020, gear selector
Kia Sorento, 2020, blind spot camera
Kia Sorento, 2020, display screen
Kia Sorento, 2020, rear seats
Kia Sorento, 2020, boot

KIA has really raised the bar in the seven-seater segment with its all-new - and rather special - fourth generation flagship Sorento model.

It's wider, taller and boasts a longer wheelbase which means extra space inside the cabin. It also features a wealth of new kit and, perhaps the headline grabbing news, the arrival of electrified powertrains.

There's a choice of three very well-equipped trim levels called 2, 3 and 4, along with powertrain options of a 2.2-litre CRDi Smartstream diesel engine with 199bhp or a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine with self-charging hybrid technology producing 226bhp.

The petrol/hybrid technology is available across the full line-up but the diesel engine is only available on the Sorento 3.

Four-wheel drive is fitted as standard on all models as is the snazzy digital cockpit that changes its appearance as you flick through the various drive modes.

In fairness, the Sorento has always been a class act, but this latest gen model oozes style and elegance with upmarket fixtures and fittings that would be not be frowned upon in any premium SUV model.

The entry-level Sorento 2 is packed with kit and it's easy to see why Kia believes this is the model that will account for the most sales.

With prices starting from £38,845 it features an eight-inch touchscreen, full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a six-speaker sound system and five USB ports to keep everyone happy.

The Sorento 3 and 4 models, priced at £41,245 and £46,945 respectively, gain a 10.25 touchscreen navigation system, wireless phone charger, multi-device Bluetooth connection and the range-topper also gets a 10-speaker Bose audio system, panoramic sunroof and head-up display.

From a design point of view, new Sorento looks more mature than the previous version with elongated proportions and sharper lines.

The traditional ‘tiger nose' grille is wider, there are new lights, air intakes and a refreshed bumper design, vertical wrap-around tail lamps, a sporty lower rear bumper and twin exhaust pipes.

The interior is pure class with a modern, upmarket and clutter-free layout. There's the likes of mood lighting, high quality upholstery throughout with either leather or cloth seats, and neatly crafted dash and door trims to give the car a truly premium appearance.

We had the opportunity to try out three Sorento models - the 2 and 4 powered by the new hybrid system and the 3 with the diesel engine. And all three versions had their own individual appeal.

The Sorento 2 HEV is packed with kit and I actually questioned if it was really just a 2 model - it was that good. The Hybrid technology which mates the 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 44.2kW electric motor and 149kWh lithium-ion battery powers the car from 0-60mph in 8.7 seconds, topping out at 119mph and it can deliver a combined 40.9mpg with carbon emissions of 158g/km.

It is very smooth and the handling in all settings impressed with good acceleration through the six-speed auto gearbox on country lanes, along with confident grip, ample power to overtake slower vehicles, a balanced ride on fast moving motorways and all the agility necessary for city centre driving - especially if, like me, you ignore so many sat nav instructions!

The diesel powertrain on the Sorento 3 model was also nicely refined and this car can offer a combined 42.2mpg with emissions of 176g/km. It sprints to 60mph from a standstill in 9.1 seconds and maxes out at 127mph. This version has an eight-speed automatic transmission, which was very responsive and beautifully timed.

Finally, the range-topping Sorento 4 with the petrol HEV system and the six-speed gearbox. The performance figures are the same apart from a slight drop in fuel efficiency and a higher 168g/km emissions output due to larger 19-inch alloy wheels.

But this is the car with the true wow factor. From the second you settle into the luxurious Nappa leather seats, the depth of technology at your disposal is outstanding. Everything is very driver orientated and all the systems are simple to operate on the fly.

If Kia still needed to be put on the map or has any doubters out there, this is the car that will silence them.

The various drive modes include settings called Comfort, Eco, Sport and Smart - the final setting rather cleverly monitors your driving style to deliver the best acceleration, gear changes and braking suited to your driving.

Space levels are superb, as they have been for the last 18 years of Sorento production, with a pair of third row seats that are easily raised and lowered when needed.

The boot can accommodate 187 litres (189 on the diesel versions) of kit with all seven seats in use - a limit that increases to a whopping 1,996 litres (2,011 on the diesel) with the second and third rows of seats dropped flat and there are plenty of practical storage compartments scattered throughout the cabin.

Safety systems are comprehensive on new Sorento and the car also has a very clever blind spot monitoring system that displays a high-resolution video feed in the driver's instrument cluster if they indicate to change lane and a vehicle is hidden in the blind spot.

Other kit includes forward collision avoidance assist, lane follow assist, intelligent speed limit assist, trailer stability assist, hill start assist, downhill brake control, a full suite of airbags and plenty more besides.

There is a new Terrain mode for improved all-wheel drive capability with better performance in mud, snow and sand settings and the towing ability on the diesel model has been increased from a 2.0-tonne limit on the outgoing car to 2.5-tonnes.

The Sorento is on sale now and it's just worth reminding potential buyers that, as is the Kia way, the car comes with a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty.

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