The new Kia Sorento arrives into Irish dealers this week, and the big seven-seater will come with something of a premium-level price-tag - €49,800*.
Mind you, that's for a well-equipped K3 model, which comes with 18-inch alloys, a ten-inch infotainment screen, a 12-inch digital instrument panel, rear-view camera, leather upholstery, heated seats, Blind Spot Detection, Front Collision Avoidance, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Follow Assist, radar cruise control, Highway Drive Assist, and front and rear parking sensors.
There will also be a €54,500 K4 version which adds a panoramic sunroof, driver and passenger power seats, 12-speaker Bose sound system, rear heated seats, power opening and adjustable tailgate, blind spot monitor, and a surround-view parking system with low-speed collision avoidance.
For now, only one engine will be available - a 2.2-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder 'Smartstream' unit, developing 202hp and 440Nm of torque. According to Kia's figures, the Sorento can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 9.2 seconds (for the version with all-wheel drive) and go on to a top speed of 202km/h. CO2 emissions start from 161g/km for the front-wheel drive version.
Although broadly similar in design and power to the old Sorento's engine, this one is new from the sump up, with an aluminium block that helps to save 19kg of weight, compared to the old engine. The diesel Sorento can haul up to 2,500kg of braked trailer weight.
Plug-in hybrid on the way
In the first quarter of next year, Kia is going to launch a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the new Sorento, powered by a 1.6 T-GDI turbo petrol engine and a 66/9kW electric motor for a combined 265hp and 350Nm of torque. Kia hasn't given us CO2 emissions figures for the PHEV Sorento just yet, but it has said that the plug-in model will come with an automatic transmission and all-wheel drive as standard.
Looks wise, the Sorento doesn't share much (beyond an imposingly large silhouette) with its predecessor. It's more upright and square-rigged, with shades of the US-market-only Kia Telluride. While the grille and high-set, slim, headlights are relatively generic Kia designs, around the back there's a rather more interesting look, with a sculpted tailgate, a small 'shark's fin' effect on the rear three-quarter glass, and distinctive, upright, tail-lights.
Taller, wider, and longer
It's 10mm taller, wider, and longer than the old Sorento, with a 35mm longer wheelbase, which should help with interior space. The old one had lounging room in the centre row of seats, but rather less space in the folding third row. Kia says that you can slide the centre row by 45mm more than before, which should help you juggle the legroom settings a bit, while the third-row seats get bigger arm-rests for improved comfort.
Up front, according to the Korean carmaker, you'll find "one of the highest quality interior spaces found in any Kia to-date" with those two big screens forming a joint centrepiece. There are haptic buttons on either side of the infotainment screen, plus an eye-catching arrangement for the air vents. Little touches include wireless phone charging and ambient lighting.
Ronan Flood, Managing Director of Kia Motors Ireland said: "The Sorento story echoes that of the Kia brand as a whole. In 2002 Sorento was very a utilitarian all-terrain vehicle but this the fourth-generation Sorento has been transformed into something altogether more desirable. It is an important model for Kia, particularly now that it also represents, with the impending arrival of Sorento PHEV the first use of electrified power in our flagship SUV."