THE transformation of the Sorento since it first appeared in 2002 somewhat echoes the meteoric rise that Kia has enjoyed as a brand during the same period.
Once very much considered a resident of the motor industry's bargain basement, the South Korean car maker has grown and evolved into a global powerhouse.
Similarly, having initially hit the road as a somewhat utilitarian all-terrain vehicle, 19 years later the Sorento has been transformed into something altogether more desirable.
The current fourth generation model, launched late last year, sits at the heart of Kia's reinvigorated SUV line-up, which also includes the Stonic, Niro and hugely popular Sportage.
A comprehensive revamp has produced a versatile seven-seat family motor that has levels of luxury and technology to challenge the premium class leaders.
Slightly expanded dimensions, a longer wheelbase and a sharper, more angular look combine to give the latest Sorento a stylish and imposing presence accompanied by impressive interior space.
Three high-specification versions - ‘2', ‘3' and a flagship ‘4' model - are available with prices ranging from Â£39,110 up to Â£53,755.
Power comes from either self-charging or plug-in petrol electric hybrid systems - the first time that hybrid power has featured in the Sorento line-up - while for the traditionalist a more conventional 2.2-litre diesel option is offered, which featured in our test car.
Producing 199bhp and 440Nm of torque, the oil burner will shift this two tonne SUV from standstill to 60mph in 9.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 127mph. Paired with a new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission it is smooth and impressively refined, while returning 42mpg on average.
Opting for one of the hybrids will boost acceleration but does have a big impact on towing capacity, if that is a key consideration, with the diesel capable of pulling 2,500kg compared to the 1,650kg of the hybrid and 1,500kg of the plug-in hybrid.
Driving dynamics and manners are good for a car of the Sorento's size, though, with accurate steering and surprisingly little roll in bends, while the ride is settled and comfortable for the most part.
To say its overly engaging would be pushing it but there is no stress involved in piloting this SUV which proves eminently driver friendly.
All versions also come with all-wheel drive which not only ensures reassuringly solid grip but also benefits from Kia's Terrain Mode system - which offers off-road abilities the Sorento's forebears would be proud of, with specific settings for mud, snow and sand.
On or off road, though, driver and passengers travel in some style with all versions of this car boasting upscale, well-appointed cabins with plenty of space and versatility.
Head and leg room is very generous and there's room for three adults to sit abreast in comfort in the second row on all but the longest journeys while the occasional third row seats, which flip up from the boot floor, will actually accommodate adults.
You wouldn't want to be back there for too long but this space is certainly more comfortable than in many rivals, with a thoughtfully placed grab handle in the C-pillar also helping you to get in.
The 60/40 split second-row seats slide forwards and backwards and fold individually, also helping with access to the third row and allowing passenger or load space to be prioritised when the rearmost seats are not in use.
The diesel engine is only available with mid-range level ‘3' cars but equipment with this grade is comprehensive.
A 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system dominates the dashboard with integrated digital radio, Apple and Android smartphone connectivity and navigation while the driver's display is also fully digital. Dual zone air conditioning includes outlets in the third row and there are also USB charging points in all rows.
Leather upholstery covers all the seats, which are heated and power adjustable in the front while the outer ones in the second row are also heated. Automatic emergency braking, cruise control, lane keep assist and blind spot warning systems are among a wealth of safety features.