2017 Kia Sorento Review

Introduction

The third-generation Kia Sorento, launched in 2014 as an SUV alternative to a seven-seat people carrier. The Sorento has an easy-to-understand line-up, as all versions are four-wheel drive and are powered by the same 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine – the only things to select are the trim grade and whether to have a manual or automatic gearbox. The Sorento’s really strong selling points are its gigantic, ingenious interior and the manufacturer’s seven-year warranty.

 

Body Style: SUV                 Seats: 7                       MRP from £28,000 - £40,000

 

Did you know? While diesel-only in the UK, in other markets the Sorento comes with a variety of petrol engines – including a 290hp 3.3-litre V6.

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Verdict: ★★★★★★★★★☆ (8.5/10)

Like Kia’s majority stakeholder Hyundai, this Korean marque has developed from a budget alternative to the established mainstream brands into a genuine contender for class honours, in very short order – simply by repeatedly building high-quality vehicles like the Mk3 Sorento.

The Sorento has a strong drivetrain, loads of technology, quietly handsome looks, and an interior that’s cavernous, comfortable and clever. Apart from that limited engine choice (there’s just one, although it makes the Sorento line-up easy to comprehend) and above average consumption and emissions numbers, there’s very little to dislike about the big Kia SUV and a heck of a lot to love.

Design & Exterior

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Interior & Comfort

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Technology & Connectivity

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10) 

Performance & Handling

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Safety Features

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Specs & Trims

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Running Costs & Fuel Economy

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Pricing

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

 

2017 Kia Sorento

We Like

Great cruising refinement

Intelligent, spacious interior

High levels of technology

We Don't Like

Only one engine

Mediocre handling

Insubstantial steering

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Design & Exterior: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Kia Sorento

The inoffensively prepossessing looks of the Kia Sorento aren’t going to set anyone’s world on fire, but it would be a cockamamie theory to suggest the SUV is anything but good-looking. It’s slightly Americanised and not as striking as its Hyundai Santa Fe relative with which it shares so much, but compared to the previous Sorentos, this third-gen off-roader is simple and elegant. The large, dominant ‘tiger nose’ grille is probably the Sorento’s defining feature – and in higher specifications, this SUV looks like an expensive, grand machine that should suitably impress the neighbours when it’s parked on your driveway.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Interior & Comfort: ★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

2017 Kia Sorento

There’s a brilliant simplicity to the Sorento’s dash layout, with crisp, clear dials and displays arrayed in an intelligent fashion. The quality of the materials used is impressive too, if not quite at Germanic standards, with nice haptics for the switches and plenty of soft-touch surfaces to luxuriate in.

The driving position is high and commanding, and from base grade to range-topper it should suit any size of owner, thanks to a height-adjustable seat and a reach/rake steering wheel on all models. Higher-grade Sorentos have electrically adjustable chairs, while all versions’ pedals are well-placed – auto versions get a left-footrest for comfort.

Practicality

The configurability of the seven seats is what marks the Sorento out for greatness. The middle row is split 40:20:40, the rear seats 50:50, and all of them can be dropped independently of each other. The levers to lower the middle-row backrests are in the boot, so if you’re trying to load something cumbersome into the cargo area, there’s no need to keep running round to the rear passenger doors to liberate more space. With all seven seats in place, access to the rear seats is easy too, thanks to outer middle chairs that auto-fold and slide forward by 270mm.

The boot is usable even with seven people on board, still offering 142 litres, while with five occupants and two seats folded it rises to 605 litres. Maximum capacity is a huge 1,662 litres. There are stowage areas, cubby holes, and interior lights everywhere in the cabin, while every Sorento gets a full-size alloy spare wheel.

Finally, the Sorento is an excellent towing machine. It can lug up to 2500kg with a manual gearbox (2000kg with the auto) and comes with self-levelling suspension from KX-2 grade upwards, as well as Trailer Stability Assist on all models.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Technology & Connectivity: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Kia Sorento

The whole range benefits from DAB, USB and aux-in connections (there’s also a USB and a 12-volt socket for second-row passengers), and Bluetooth as standard. The lower two trims have a six-speaker stereo, while the top two grades feature a powerful Infinity Premium Sound System with 10 speakers, an external amp, and a subwoofer. Every Sorento has a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel complete with phone and audio controls.

Buyers need to step up from base spec to get a seven-inch touchscreen satnav, which is enlarged to eight inches for higher models – and all three screen-equipped Kias have a reversing camera. One piece of kit that makes going for the upper end of the Sorento range worthwhile is the attractive seven-inch LCD monitor in the instrument cluster.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Performance & Handling: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Kia Sorento

There’s just one 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel motor, which can be paired to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox, depending on specifications. It develops healthy numbers of 197hp and 325lb ft, which are more than enough to move the 1,932kg mass of the Sorento.

It’s a shame there aren’t any other engine options, of course, but the 2.2 does a fine enough job of balancing performance with economy. It’s a little bit gruff if revved right out to the limit, but as that’s a counter-intuitive thing to do with a turbodiesel, most owners won’t ever experience such an issue.

With masses of sound-deadening thrown into the Mk3 Sorento, this large SUV is incredibly refined. It’s a really comfortable and quiet cruiser at speed, and as a result there’s a good case to be made for recommending the slick-shifting auto over the manual – except for the fact that it costs extra and it has a significant negative impact on the emissions.

Handling-wise, the Sorento is fine, but nothing more. Body control is good and traction levels are high, thanks to four-wheel drive, but once again the Kia’s FlexSteer two-mode steering (only on manual models; autos get Drive Mode Select instead) is a let-down – it’s numb in either Normal or Sport, and the weighting of it is inconsistent. However, the Sorento drives no worse than, say, the Volkswagen Tiguan, and for daily SUV duties it’s a cinch to drive.

Recommended engine: 2.2 CRDi AWD manual KX-2

0-62 MPH

9.0 seconds

Fuel economy

46.3mpg

Emissions

161g/km

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Safety Features: ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

2017 Kia Sorento

Six airbags, front active head restraints, and impact-sensing door unlocking all feature on the passive safety kit list of every Sorento, while active safety range-wide includes ESC, ABS, Emergency Stop Signalling (which flashes the brake lights and then the hazards in the event of heavy braking) and Hill-Start Assist Control, as well as the standard-fit four-wheel drive. ISOFIX fittings are only on the outer two seats of row two, not in row three as well.

Items like Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning System, and Speed Limit Information Function are reserved for the top two models, but such spec-dependent safety didn’t stop the Kia hauling in the full five-star Euro NCAP rating.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Specs and Trim Levels: ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

2017 Kia Sorento

Colours

There’s only one non-monochrome colour for the Kia Sorento and that’s Sunset Red metallic, which – as with White Pearl metallic – isn’t available on the entry-level model. The standard, solid hue is Clear White, while the remaining three metallic paints are called Midnight Black, Satin Silver and Graphite.

Trim Levels

This is really easy: they run KX-1, KX-2, KX-3 and – surprise, surprise – KX-4. The KX-1 can only be specified with a manual gearbox, the KX-4 comes with the six-speed automatic only, while the self-shifter is an option on the middle two grades.

KX-1 cars get air conditioning, 17-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, cruise control and a speed limiter, and electrically folding mirrors. KX-2 is well worth the price hike, as it adds desirable luxuries like leather upholstery, four heated seats, a heated steering wheel, parking sensors at the front, 18-inch alloys, auto lights and wipers, dual-zone climate control, and satnav.

KX-3 ramps up the equipment list, with a panoramic roof, eight-way powered driver’s seat, a Smart Power Tailgate, the upgraded touchscreen and sound system, and various safety driver aids. KX-4 is fully loaded territory, including 19-inch alloys, a self-parking system, a 360-degree around-view monitor, radar cruise control, and ventilated front seats, and more. The KX-3 might, in isolation, seem expensive, but it’s cheaper than comparative rival machines with the same equipment. Stick with the manual gearbox to save money on purchase price and running costs.

Size and Dimensions

It’ll need to be a big garage, as the Kia Sorento is long and wide.

Length

4,780mm

Width

1,890mm (excluding door mirrors)

Height

1,685mm (including roof rails)

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Running Costs & Fuel Economy: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Kia Sorento

Although it’s a four-cylinder diesel-only line-up, the Kia Sorento doesn’t turn in class-leading economy or emissions figures. Blame the 2.2-litre engine for that, which was lifted from the old car and so isn’t a cutting edge powerplant. At best, as a manual model on 17-inch wheels, it’ll approach a quoted 50mpg with CO2 emissions sneaking below 150g/km. Bigger 18-inch wheels knock economy to around 46mpg and CO2 up beyond 160g/km. The automatic is even worse, hovering around 42mpg and emitting almost 180g/km. Therefore, VED isn’t cheap and the Benefit-in-Kind rates are between 24 and 28 per cent.

Reliability and servicing

Using that old 2.2-litre engine brings a benefit here, as it wasn’t subject to any recalls in the old Sorento and so should prove reliable. Indeed, Kia performs well in customer satisfaction surveys, so the Mk3 Sorento should be solid. Which means the SUV’s unbeatable seven-year warranty is belt and braces stuff; it’s worth pointing out that, although it’s unlimited mileage cover for the first three years, it switches to a maximum of 100,000 miles for years four to seven. Hyundai’s cover might be shorter at five years, but it’s unlimited mileage for the entire duration.

Servicing costs are reasonable on the Sorento, but, like many manufacturers, it offers fixed-price servicing packages – called Care-3 or Care-3 Plus. The first covers the Sorento for its first three services, the second for the first five services.

Minor service 12 months or 10,000 miles
Major service 24 months or 20,000 miles 

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Pricing: ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

2017 Kia Sorento

While we’re not about to say the Sorento, which costs anything between £29,000 and £41,000, is exactly cheap, it remains great value because those prices are well below any other full-sized seven-seat SUV – like the Audi Q7 or Volvo XC90 – and the Kia comes with masses of equipment plus that long warranty. Many will have a mental wobble about a £40,000+ Kia, so perhaps the KX-3 offers the sweet spot of the range: it’s around £36,000 for a manual model.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Recommendations

Large Families

As all Sorentos are seven-seaters, the Smart Power Tailgate makes a difference to families – it’s standard from KX-3 level.

Tech Junky

No doubt about it, the KX-4 is in ‘kitchen sink’ specification, replete with all the toys you could possibly want or need.

Company Car Buyer

To maximise the 2.2’s economy, you have to stick at the KX-1 level – giving it the lowest VED and BIK.

Rivals

Hyundai Santa Fe

Higher starting price, shorter warranty, narrower specifications – but the Hyundai has better looks and a five-seat variant is offered.

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Not as big as the Sorento, despite its ‘5+2’ seating layout, and while a classier product, spec-for-spec the Disco Sport is dearer.

Skoda Kodiaq

This is a headache for both Korean seven-seaters – Czech car has third row of chairs and it starts from around £22,000.

Volkswagen Touareg

Completely trumped by the Sorento. The Volkswagen is more expensive, doesn’t have the option of seven seats, and it’s not good on fuel, either.

Volvo XC90

Significantly costlier, but thoroughly brilliant, Volvo shows what you have to spend to properly outclass the superb Sorento.

What others say

What Car?

The Kia Sorento makes sense if you need seven usable seats but don’t want an MPV. It’s also a capable tow car.

Car Buyer

If you need a large SUV, the Kia Sorento has seven seats, a huge boot, an impressive diesel engine and classy interior.

 

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