What is it?
Well, this is unusual: a mid-life facelift, barely three years into a car’s life, which leaves the bodywork mostly alone but completely reconfigures the mechanicals. The 2013 Kia Sorento has a new platform and sits 10mm lower than its immediate predecessor, from which it looks only mildly changed, around the nose and tailgate. The front and rear suspension are all new and the body is 18 per cent torsionally stiffer than last month’s Sorento. Yet Kia says the life cycle of the car is unchanged, not extended, as a result.
I’ll admit that it’s a new one on me, but there’s sense to this move, says Kia. It brings the mechanicals into line with those that underpin the Hyundai Santa Fe to take advantage of economies of scale. Also, by dropping the two-wheel-drive and five-seat variants (which hardly anybody bought), by usefully upgrading the Sorento’s interior materials and by upping the price, Kia has again put clear air between the Sorento and its smaller Sportage sibling – a car that has been doing rather well and, one suspects, had been nibbling at the lower end of the Sorento range.
What is it like?
It's slightly bigger inside, although you wouldn’t notice unless you stepped from the old version to the new. The reconfigured suspension has allowed more space for the (now standard) in-boot third-row seats. The Sorento is as roomy as a 4.7m-long SUV ought to be, with a respectably if unexcitingly finished interior for about £30,000, the price point around which the simplified range sits.
It drives well enough, too. There’s no particular sparkle here, but none should be expected. The ride is mostly acceptable, if a touch brittle over poor surfaces, and noise levels are low (the drag coefficient has improved to 0.34 from 0.38). The 194bhp 2.2-litre diesel is muted once warm, although it pulls with no more vigour than you’d expect. There’s now electric rather than hydraulic assistance for the power steering, leaving it light and accurate, while the other control weights operate with well measured consistency.
They make driving the Sorento a choreless experience, relaxing and easy, which suits dynamics that allow significant roll in corners. A sporting 4x4 this isn’t, but that’s quite right, too.
Should I buy one?
Piloting it is as painless as you’d hope and its seven-year warranty leaves the ownership experience, which is just as the majority of Sorento buyers, most of whom are private purchasers, would want things.
Kia Sorento KX-2 Sat Nav
Price £29,995; Top speed 118mph; 0-62mph 9.4sec; Economy 47.9mpg (combined); CO2 155g/km; Kerb weight 1999kg; Engine 4 cyls, 2199cc, turbodiesel; Power 194bhp at 3800rpm; Torque 311lb ft at 1800-2500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual