After a year behind the wheel of Kia’s large off-roader, Pete Carr tells a tale of how rewarding it has been.
As the long term test of this vehicle draws to a close, I can say emphatically that the Sorento is some car. In every sense of the word it is a good looking all-rounder. Versatile enough to double up as a practical country-living motor, and a roomy family orientated SUV. The 4×4 facility is not to be underestimated either. I tried to get it stuck on a number of occasions, without success, and as each attempt was negotiated, my respect for the all-wheel-drive system grew enormously. Add in eyebrow raising economy, impressive safety features, and the reassurance of a seven-year warranty, make this vehicle a real top-of-its-class option for potential purchasers to consider very seriously.
New Sorento does look slick, with a polished premium feel about it that will win many customers over. Furthermore the car looks equally at home in the city or countryside, and the past year has certainly proved the Sorento’s practical credentials in both environments. By choice, I am a 4×4/SUV kind of guy, as I live in a rural area, where work and play take me to many country estates at different times of the year. For obvious reasons, a four wheel drive facility and above average ground clearance are advantageous to maintaining happiness behind the wheel, and the Sorento has really proved its worth as a working vehicle. It has unquestionably ticked all the boxes as a reliable rural performer both on and off-road, thanks to its efficient and capable drivetrain. Moor, stubble and rough stoned hill tracks have all been successfully negotiated through the four seasons, and in all weathers too.
For the urbanites amongst us that like a big SUV, the Sorento isn’t to be passed by. Belgravia mum’s (who are not badge snobs) will appreciate its tight turning circle and easy-to-live-with nature. City parking manoeuvres are an absolute doddle and truly defied belief for a vehicle of this size. The Kia boasts a deceptively compact turning circle, coupled with a light and an accurate power steering system, and extremely helpful parking sensors, enables the driver to park with absolute confidence.
The cabin has a real all-round premium feel, thanks to its cool design, black leather upholstery, and black wood grain finish. Everything easily comes to hand and is clearly visible too, however, I have one slight gripe here, that satellite navigation isn’t fitted as standard, considering its £30k price tag. It’s an optional extra, at £1,100, and KX-3 and above Sorentos come so equipped, so it’s frustrating that you have to pay more for it. Interestingly, since taking delivery of our KX-2 model a year ago, the price tag has risen by just £200 – pretty good when you look at how much some of its rivals have increased by.
The roomy cabin gives a lot of elbow room up front, and the comfort continues to the second row that features 60:40 split seats, and decent legroom. These double fold and allow easy extension of the cargo area – when the full seven seat capacity is not required, of course. They also enable passengers to enter and exit the third row, which is split 50:50 and again folds fully flat to provide a level cargo bay with an impressive maximum capacity of 1,530 litres with all seats tumbled down. Although the additional seats look more inclined to take children, there is a surprising amount of room in that third row. The boot is huge, in five seat mode, and the carrying potential is impressive with all the rear seats folded. However, the boot space is obviously massively reduced to just 116 litres when the rear row seats are in use.
Good all-round visibility is only marred by the aft view that is quite restricted, hence the rear reversing camera. Although I am now getting used to it – I still can’t exorcise that “waiting for the bang feeling”. This has been the only worry I have had about this vehicle, but it has been a constant one, further exasperated by the screen eventually failing last month. Thankfully it was soon put right when I took it in for the car’s 20,000 mile service this month. It cost a reasonable £226.69 and was carried out with the minimum of fuss.
Despite the above reservation, the Sorento is a smart, well equipped and very rewarding car to drive. The famous Kia seven-year warranty is also a weighty reassurance when passing over your hard earned wonga for a car. They say that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and am pleased to reveal that I couldn’t bear to be parted with the car, so have ordered a brand-new example to replace it. You can’t get a better recommendation than that, when someone parts with their own hard-earned cash to buy one.
|Date arrived:||26th February 2013|
|Mileage to date:||20,428 miles|
|Fuel consumption:||42.2mpg (official combined)
39.2mpg (on test)