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 Sports SUVs

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Kia range

Driven this week

  • Volkswagen Passat Alltrack 2.0 TDI 4Motion front view
    First Drive
    17 February 2017
    Latest Passat Alltrack is one of the best examples of that most inoffensive of things, the all-seasons estate
  • 2017 Hyundai i30 1.0 T-GDi 120 SE Nav front view
    First Drive
    17 February 2017
    A UK drive in the Hyundai i30 reveals a rounded and capable hatchback, but not one to challenge the class best
  • Peugeot 5008
    First Drive
    16 February 2017
    Handsome seven-seater offers a smart interior with certain key practicality benefits, but it’s a slightly mixed bag to drive.
  • Car review
    15 February 2017
    The fifth-gen Discovery is simply one of the world's most capable cars, even with the addition of a 2.0-litre engine
  • Tesla Model X
    Car review
    15 February 2017
    The electric propulsion pioneer takes aim at the seven-seat SUV market