KIA is about to make a serious challenge in the premium SUV market with the arrival of the new Sorento .
The fourth generation of the Korean firm's flagship model raises the bar In the seven-seat segment with extra space, stacks of kit and electrified powertrains.
It also boasts a stunning roomy cabin and at the same time offers stylishgood looks.
There's a choice of three very well-equipped trim levels called 2, 3 and 4, along with the choice 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 range but the diesel engine is only available on the Sorento 3.
Four-wheel drive is fitted as standard on all models and there is also a selection of drive modes that also alter the digital cockpit display.
Even the entry-level Sorento 2 is packed with kit and 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.
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.
Wider and taller than the previous generation the new Sorento has nice mature lines. The traditional Kia ‘tiger nose' grille is now wider and 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 the best Kia has produced. It is very modern with a classy up-market feel and in the 4 trim I drove is truly premium.
The flagship car I sampled came with Hybrid technology which mates the 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 44.2kW electric motor and 149kWh lithium-ion battery.
It delivers power smoothly and is good enough to get this big car to 60mph in just 8.7 seconds before going on to a top speed of 119mph.It has a claimed combined 40.9mpg figure with emissions of 168g/km.
I was impressed by its ride and handling and the six-speed automatic gearbox made it easy to drive in town.The Sorento is surprisingly agile for its size and the AWD system means there is stacks of grip.
It has 19-inch alloys to enhance its good looks but it is the interior that really seals the deal.
Sink into the Nappa leather and then admire the view and the space.It will take time to get to know all the smart technology at your fingertips but the systems are easy to operate when you get used to them.
Drive modes include settings for Comfort, Eco, Sport and Smart with the final setting adapting your driving style to deliver the best acceleration, gear changes and braking suited to your driving.
The Sorento is also hugely practical with a third row of seats that are easily raised and lowered when required.The boot can hold 187 litres of luggage with all seven seats in use - and increases to an impressive 1,996 litres with the second and third rows of seats dropped flat.There are also plenty of useful storage compartments inside the cabin.
Safety systems are comprehensive on the new Sorento. It has the best blind spot monitoring system I have encountered which displays a high-resolution video feed in the instrument cluster if you indicate to change lane and a vehicle is hidden in the blind spot either side of you.
You also have forward collision avoidance assist, lane follow assist, intelligent speed limit assist, trailer stability assist, hill start assist, downhill brake control and lots more.
A new Terrain mode is included to improve all-wheel drive capability with added performance in mud, snow and sand settings.