Kia's rival to the Nissan X-Trail and Mitsubishi Outlander grows in size and gets improvements in refinement and handling
Darren Moss
11 August 2014

The 2015 Kia Sorento has been revealed, with the third generation of the SUV set to go on sale in the UK in the spring.

Measuring 95mm longer and 15mm lower than the current model – at 4780mm long and 1685mm high, with a wheelbase of 2780mm – the new Sorento takes on a more muscular appearance, incorporating elements from the Cross GT concept of 2013. 

While primarily designed in Korea, Kia says the new Sorento has also had input from European and US design teams. The brand's hallmarks, like its 'tiger-nose' front grille and swept-back headlights can be seen, alongside revised bumpers and a new headlight cluster design at the rear.

The increased exterior dimensions and extended wheelbase, which has gained 80mm, have liberated additional space in the cabin of this Nissan X-Trail and Mitsubishi Outlander rival.

Although the roofline is 15mm lower, repositioned seat cushions ensure increased headroom for occupants in all three rows. There's greater legroom too.

Cargo space also increases, thanks to a longer cargo bay floor. Load capacity with the third row seats folded flat is up from 515 to 605 litres. The new Sorento also features a new under-floor tonneau cover storage compartment.

Available in the UK only as a seven-seater, the new Sorento's second row splits 40/20/40. The second row seats in the seven-seat car are equipped with ‘remote folding’ controlled by two levers in the side of the cargo bay.

Interior styling was led by the brand’s European design team, based in Frankfurt, and Kia’s designers have used higher quality materials, with a higher proportion of soft-touch materials and leather.

The instrument cluster is wider and the wrap-around shape of the dashboard extends into the door trims.

Depending on market, customers will be able to specify the interior in either single-tone black or two-tone black and 'stone' colour schemes with cloth or leather trim. Additionally, brown or light grey colour schemes in leather trim will be offered as an option.

The Sorento features new technology. Depending on market, new features will include: an around-view monitor, with four cameras helping the driver to manoeuvre when parking, and a powered tailgate that opens the tailgate automatically when the key is ‘sensed’ in close proximity.

Buyers of the new Sorento will also be able to choose from a wealth of ‘active’ safety technologies, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning system, front-collision warning, blind-spot detection and lane-change assist.

There will be five engines available with the new Sorento worldwide, but Europe will only receive a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel and a 2.4-litre petrol and only the diesel will be offered in the UK. The 194bhp 2.2-litre CRDi powerplant is likely to receive minor revisions to improve fuel economy and emissions. The current Sorento offers 47.9mpg on a combined cycle, with CO2 emissions of 155g/km in manual form.

A hybrid version – making use of a 2.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine combined with an electric motor – will arrive after the car's launch, but Kia is still deciding on whether to bring it to Europe. A fuel cell version, using technology from the ix35 FCEV, can't be ruled out.

The Sorento is based on a modified version of the current Hyundai Santa Fe platform. Kia's development engineers focused on strengthening the bodyshell structure and improving noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) characteristics. Cabin noise is said to be reduced by between three and six per cent, depending on driving conditions, compared to the outgoing model.

NVH-reducing measures adopted for the new Sorento include a new soundproofing material for the transmission tunnel, a 29% thicker dashboard soundproofing panel, larger engine and transmission mounts for greater powertrain refinement. Diesel models get a new diesel particulate filter cover and an acoustic shield integrated into the engine’s timing chain cover. 

The torsional rigidity of the new body shell is increased by 14% compared to the outgoing model. The structure of the new Sorento makes more widespread use of ultra-high tensile steel and is said to be significantly stronger, with the material now used to reinforce the wheel arches, tailgate surround and rear-wheel surround.

The new Sorento also features more than twice as much ultra-strong hot-stamped steel as the outgoing model, up from 4.1% to 10.1%, greatly strengthening the A- and B-pillars.

The new Sorento's fully independent suspension retains the format of the outgoing model, which means it has MacPherson struts at the front and Kia’s multi-link system at the rear, but features a range of modifications. 

At the rear, the subframe supporting the suspension has larger bushings to better isolate it from the cabin and the larger shock absorbers are now mounted vertically behind the axle line to improve body control motion. These changes, together with the longer wheelbase, are intended to deliver a more compliant ride.

A new electric motor-driven power steering system will be available as either standard or optional equipment depending on market. It is mounted directly onto the steering rack, rather than the steering column as on the outgoing model, to provide greater feel and quicker responses.

Read the Autocar first drive of the 2015 Kia Sorento.

Readers from our sister mag, What Car?, were allowed to preview the car before it goes on sale. See what they made of the Sorento in their video.

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Our Verdict

Kia Sorento 2010-2014

An almost class-leading family 4x4, if a little pricey given its workmanlike flavour

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Comments
6

11 August 2014
Going by the recent Kia/Hyundai trend, the new Sorento would perhaps emit same or more CO2 and offer same or less MPG. If the price doesn't soar unreasonably, Sorento along with Santa Fe still remains among the best-value 7-seaters.

11 August 2014
Not sure about the styling, particularly given the progress made by Kia/Hyundai on (some) other models of late. Doesn't appeal to me as much as the seven seat Nissan X-Trail, a car that offers the low CO2 and competitive mpg that Fadyady rightly identifies as a recurring shortcoming for the Koreans.

11 August 2014
This is disappointing and already looks dated compared to it's good-looking smaller brother, the Sportage and it's much more stylish stablemate, the Santa Fe. The X-Trail looks like the one to have, and may prove to be better value given the ambitious pricing we've come to expect from the South Koreans. If only Nissan would introduce a more competitive 5 year warranty.

11 August 2014
It is large and decent looking, if unremarkable. If the ride is compliant and the price is right then they should sell a bunch in the States which is really the only true market for a larger SUV-cum-people hauler.

12 August 2014
Until we see a picture of the second row of seats we cannot call it a seven seater. A 40/20/40 split does not a seven seater make - more like 4+0.5+thirdrow - just ask anyone that dares to have more than two children.

29 August 2014
As an owner of a full size MPV made in Korea that we have now owned for 10 years I shall be keeping a look out for reviews on this. This perhaps doesn't have the design flair of the Sportage but it looks solid and proportional. The diesel engine in the Hyundai we currently have still goes like a train so I suspect this will be even better having more power too. My only reservation is what the dealer experience would be like as Hyundai's have been poor in our area. If anybody would like to feedback on their experience with Kia I would appreciate that. Thanks

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