The biggest problem facing this new Kia Sorento is its name. Because if it rings any bells for anyone at all, it will probably be one of warning. The old Sorento was the kind of beast only its mother would love: a slow, ugly, uncomfortable, hulking off-roader you bought because it represented probably the cheapest way of towing 3.5 tonnes.

By the starkest of contrasts, the current Sorento is a thoroughly modern seven-seat SUV styled in a chi-chi California design studio to appeal to those who care as much about how they look as where they go. Kia is quite explicit about the price paid for this approach – it openly admits the Sorento is nothing like as capable off road as the previous one and that towing capacity has been cut by an entire tonne in manual form – but claims that it has been able to design a car that will appeal to a much broader audience.

On the surface at least, Kia's success in that aim is evident, but the car underneath those slick surfaces isn't so mould-breaking. The Sorento is available with two diesel engines with prices rising through four equipment grades from £23k to a steep-sounding £32.5k.

Top 5 Large SUVs

  • Range Rover Sport
    The new Sport, from a keen driver’s point of view, might just be the best SUV in the world at the moment

    Range Rover Sport

    1
  • The Porsche Cayenne is available as a hybrid for the first time

    Porsche Cayenne

    2
  • BMW X5
    The X5 uses in effect the same platform as the previous generation, but it's been substantially revised

    BMW X5

    3
  • Land Rover Discovery
    The Discovery really is the defining go-anywhere super-utility vehicle

    Land Rover Discovery

    4
  • The Mk2 model, also based on the Porsche Cayenne, is lighter, roomier and more economical than the first

    Volkswagen Touareg

    5

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