Erin Baker, Editorial Director at Auto Trader, reveals why the Kia Sorento is appealing for the whole family.
Words by Erin Baker, Editorial Director at Auto Trader
If you have a large family, or regularly act as a taxi service for mates or play dates, you’re probably in need of a seven-seater. That used to mean an unglamorous MPV, but these days there’s a choice of good-looking large SUVs out there. The Kia Sorento ticks most boxes, and is good value, too.
The Sorento has always been one of the better-looking seven-seaters out there, with chunky off-roading looks and a raised ride height. Kia is a Korean car brand but designs its cars with European tastes in mind, thank goodness. Inside, the new Sorento is a step up from its predecessor in terms of a high-quality feel: if you go for a GT-Line spec, which is near the top of the tree, you get stitched leather (our test car had black leather seats with pale grey stitching), the option of deep, sparkly metallic paint (ours was a lush navy) and the plastic surfaces have a decent soft-touch finish.
It’s worth paying a bit more to go up a couple of trim levels to GT-Line or GT-Line S here, otherwise you don’t get the tech most of us require and expect these days. The GT-Line version gives you get an infotainment touchscreen with satnav (not the prettiest graphics but shows traffic jams and directions clearly), DAB radio, USB connectivity, cruise control and a much-needed rear-view camera for parking, because this is a big beast (although easy to park with that camera plus front and rear sensors).
You also get Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, which is rapidly becoming a necessity rather than a luxury in cars.
The only reason for paying even more for the GT-Line S version is for adaptive cruise control – that’s the one which does the braking as well as the accelerating when you set it to a certain speed, by measuring the distance between you and the car in front. Handy when you’re on a long journey.
The Kia compares comfortably with the biggest seven-seater SUVs on the market here: we’ve tested them all and it’s up there with the Volvo XC90 and Land Rover Discovery for leg space in the second and third rows of seats, and boot space when the third row is up.
We drove our Sorento from East Sussex to Snowdonia with two adults, four boys aged six, eight, nine and eleven, and a black labrador on board. Admittedly we bought a roof rack for the rails and strapped a top box on too, for the food and sleeping bags, but the kids, dog and parents were all fine for the six-hour journey up there; not a murmur of complaint from anyone about cramped legs or elbows in faces.
Hmmm, let’s not get excited here: our Sorento had a 2.2-litre diesel engine putting out just enough shove to let you overtake on the motorway, and that’s with the use of the flappy paddles on the steering wheel that allow you to manually blip down a gear for some extra revs from the automatic gearbox. But if you buy a heavy, four-wheel-drive SUV and fill it with children and their stuff, you’re never going to get scintillating acceleration, and you wouldn’t want it, unless you enjoy spending your life at filling stations paying for fuel.
Here’s where the Kia excels. The Sorento starts at £30,225, and our test car had a price tag of £38,040, which is still a very decent offer, especially when combined with Kia’s seven-year/100,000-mile warranty. If you wanted a Volvo XC90 or Land Rover Disco with similar space you’d be looking at pretty much double that price. Ok, it is not the most refined ride, and the diesel engine is quite raucous, but really, for that money, you can’t complain. My kids certainly didn’t, and that’s worth its weight in gold.