Now in its fourth generation, the Sorento puts Kia in line with the premium German brands with the bonus that it offers, better value for money. Designed and engineered to cope with a variety of driving situations; a powerful and versatile SUV offering a seven-seat layout. The innovative platform has been designed from the outset to accommodate electrified powertrains, meaning that the latest model is available as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or diesel; depending on the market.
The exterior features sharp lines, high-tech details, and elongated proportions which delivers a strong on road presence. Moving to the well appointed interior you are greeted by an attractive cabin which features premium-quality materials, cutting-edge infotainment technologies, and an excellent design. The Sorento was the first vehicle to be based on Kia’s new-generation midsize SUV platform allied with a large body to maximise cargo and luggage space, the platform ensures that it is one of the most versatile and spacious three-row SUVs on the market today. I spent a week behind the wheel, the bulk of my driving in County Donegal. Currently the Sorento is available in Northern Ireland in single ‘Edition’ specification, available across three powertrains. This model comes with an impressive and comprehensive list of standard features and features the highest level of equipment ever seen on the three-row SUV, with black exterior styling accents creating a bold new image. In the Republic, Sorento is available as a plug-in-hybrid or diesel offering power choices of 265 and 202bhp.
It’s worth noting just important the SUV is in the overall Kia range, going from the Stonic, Niro, the hugely popular Sportage, the all electric EV9, all stablemates of the Sorento. My hybrid test vehicle featured the ‘Smartstream’ electrified powertrain, pairing a 1.6 litre turbocharged petrol direct injection (T-GDi) with a 1.49kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack. The battery located under the front seat, thud the new electrified powertrain has minimal impact on cabin and cargo space. The electrified powertrain combines lower CO2 emissions with a peak power output of 226bhp and peak torque of 350Nm. Power is transmitted through a six-speed automatic transmission via a transmission-mounted electrical device, resulting in immediacy in acceleration response at any speed, with direct access to battery power at higher speeds. I was pleasantly surprised with the brisk acceleration, after all this member of the Kia family has generous proportions; in fact it felt as nimble behind the wheel as a saloon or hatchback.
A key element of this large SUV is the Terrain Mode system; this delivers improved traction, stability and control on mud, snow and sand, with dedicated driving modes for each. It is controlled using the Mode Select dial on the centre console; choose from ‘Mud’, ‘Snow’ and ‘Sand’ modes.The system automatically optimises the drivetrain to best suit each scenario, adjusting engine torque output and distribution, as well as stability control characteristics. Terrain Mode also adjusts shift timings for the two available transmissions (eight-speed dual-clutch transmission for diesel models, six-speed automatic for hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants) to suit different surfaces. The Sorento is one of the most high-tech Kia models thanks to a suite of technologies to enhance safety, connectivity and infotainment. Clearly the design and engineering teams have produced a vehicle to make travelling safer and less stressful while providing total ease of use and all Sorento models come with seven years’ free Kia Connect, a telematics service which connects drivers to the world around by providing invaluable information via the in-car touchscreen and smartphone.
There were a number of features which I particularly appreciated during my time with the Sorento; the customisable head-up display, which projects driving information onto the base of the windscreen in the driver’s line of sight; the twelve speaker BOSE surround-sound audio system for entertainment on the move and the company’s revolutionary Blind-Spot View Monitor which displays a high-resolution video feed in the driver’s instrument cluster when indicating, to eliminate blind-spots and ensure safety. When parking and undertaking low-speed manoeuvres, the driver can also activate the 360-degree around view monitor, and I must not omit the smart power tailgate. Summing up yet another impressive offering from Kia, a vehicle for those who demand a large SUV with an impressive list of safety aids and onboard goodies.