The New Kia Sorento ticks all of the usual boxes you'd expect from a larger SUV, but crucially it drives just as well as it looks.
In the metal 4/5
Kia's new Sorento looks good, very good in fact. There's more than a hint of Americana about it, but the designers have managed to keep it from becoming brash. It has as much presence as many of its more upmarket rivals too.
Inside, it's a an even bigger step up for the Korean brand; granted, our test car was the higher-grade Platinum trim, but it looked and felt very well put together. The dashboard, as per most modern Kias, is clearly laid out and very easy to read, whilst the centre console is easily one of the best designs on the market. The Platinum grade offers the large colour touchscreen as standard, which is not overly complex and features large easy-to-hit buttons for all the main controls.
There's plenty of space for passengers too. The middle row comfortably seats three and this row can slide to offer more or less legroom, depending on whether there are passengers in the rear row of seats. Full-grown adults will find it a little tricky to get in and out of those rear two seats, but once in it's not all that bad. You get your own air conditioning vents and both head- and legroom are fine for short to medium length distances, though in most cases these two seats will probably only be occupied by children. Boot space is limited with those rear seats up, though one can be left folded flat if needs be. With both down, there is more than enough cargo space for a long weekend away.
Driving it 4/5
Given the size of the new Sorento you would expect it to be more about the practicalities than driving dynamics, yet despite its hefty size it demonstrates good levels of body control. Even though many of the suspension components are the same as in the previous model, their mounting points have been altered in order to improve on-road handling.
On smaller, winding roads, the Sorento is little short of excellent in terms of both how it handles and its ability to absorb the tarmac's imperfections. Despite it being a large seven-seat SUV, there is little in the way of body roll through the corners; only when you begin to carry more speed than most will does this becomes noticeable. The steering is well weighted, to ensure that you don't lose sight of just how big it is, yet it doesn't feel like you're piloting a barge either and being all-wheel drive the Sorento feels quite surefooted.
The 2.2-litre diesel engine performs well, offering plenty of pulling power with 441Nm of torque. It will reach 100km/h from rest in 9.0 seconds in the case of the manual, but what is more impressive than the outright performance is the amount of sound insulation. It is noticeably quieter than the previous generation and is at a level that betters many in a similar price bracket.
What you get for your money 4/5
Kia will offer the Sorento at an entry point of €38,995; however, that version will only feature the five-seat configuration. The €5,000 move up to the seven-seat Sorento also upgrades the car to the Platinum specification and, in our opinion, is money well spent. However, should you desire an automatic transmission you will need to fork out an additional €5,505 and on top of that you will be paying a higher rate of motor tax as its emissions of 177g/km bring an annual bill of €750 - versus €390 for the manual. It's worth remembering that the new Sorento carries Kia's usual seven-year warranty.
The new Kia Sorento is good looking, well-equipped, has positive on-road handling and more than enough room for the family. It's genuinely hard to find many areas in which to knock it. Kia's new Sorento stands a very good chance of winning over plenty of new fans.