Kia's new soaraway Sorento

The 'crossover' status assigned to the Sorento by Kia suggests a greater emphasis on road-going ability and that's how things pan out, writes Steve Walker.

The 'crossover' status assigned to the Sorento by Kia suggests a greater emphasis on road-going ability and that's how things pan out, writes Steve Walker.

The car uses the same MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension as the old model but it's 10mm lower and the one-piece bodyshell of the latest car produces a centre of gravity that's 54mm closer to terra firma. Engineers have worked to produce a more direct steering set-up with fewer turns lock-to-lock which should also help on the tarmac but Kia still claims that a decent level of off-road ability has been retained.

If you plan on putting the Sorento to the test in the rough, you'll be wanting a 4x4 version. There are both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions offered but for off-road driving, towing or coping with slippery on-road conditions, the 4x4 will be the way to go.

The engine options for the European market comprise a 174PS four-cylinder 2.4-litre petrol unit or a more desirable 197PS four-cylinder 2.2-litre diesel. In terms of torque, there's even less of a contest between these two power options. The petrol unit generates 225Nm at 4,000rpm while the diesel has 421Nm available from 1,800 to 2,500rpm.


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The Sorento lacks the low-range gearbox that would mark it out as a serious off-road tool. In the 4x4 models, 100pc of torque is directed to the front wheels under normal driving conditions with drive directed rearwards as slippage is detected by the computer. There is, however, a lock mode which will split power equally between the front and rear axles to help in slippery conditions at speeds of up to 40kph.

This car is now a genuine seven-seater with much more space for occupants seated in the optional third row, making it, says Kia, best in class for accommodating the sixth and seventh occupants. Access to the cabin is also improved as the 'hip-point' for the front and second row seats is lowered by 37mm, the cabin floor is lowered by 32mm and the second row near-side seats 'double-fold' to allow easier entry and exit for third row passengers.

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The 2.2-litre diesel engine will be the one that Sorento buyers looking to minimise running costs will gravitate towards. It's a third-generation common-rail injection unit that promises impressive economy and emissions figures considering its hefty power output. Expect about 43mpg on the combined cycle and 171 and 174g/km of CO2 depending on your choice between two or four-wheel drive. Kia's generous seven-year warranty will also be a factor in minimising running costs.

The subtle retargeting of the Sorento by Kia is a move that should serve the car well.

The previous-generation model was a simple, unapologetic sport utility vehicle (SUV) with lots of size and space for the price. The latest car offers many of the same qualities but takes a slightly more nuanced approach that's flagged up by Kia's insistence that it's a crossover utility vehicle (CUV).

Sleeker, prettier, more composed on the road, cleaner and with loads of room inside, it sounds like a 4x4 well suited to the modern world.

KIA SORENTO

PRICE: �20,495 to �29,795 on the road

PERFORMANCE: 2.2D 4WD, 0-62mph 9.2 seconds; top speed 118mph

MPG: 2.2D 4WD, combined 42.8

EMISSIONS: 171 to 203g/km

INSURANCE GROUPS: 13 to 14 estimated

WILL IT FIT IN THE GARAGE? Length 4,685mm; width 1,885mm; height 1,745-1,755mm

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