Smart looks and a truly spacious interior mark out this new seven-seat SUV. Does it also appeal on the road?

What is it?

It’s always so tempting, whenever Kia launches a new model, to contemplate just how far this manufacturer of cheap and occasionally not-so-cheerful cars has come over the years.

From a design and general appeal point of view, it’s light years ahead of where it once was and, with the launch of its fourth-generation Sorento SUV, things are getting better still.

This handsome new brute represents quite a step-change from the previous Kia Sorento. Not only is it the first model to sit on Kia’s latest mid-size SUV platform, but also it’s now available with a hybridised petrol engine and there will be a plug-in hybrid launched later this year.

The standard hybrid tested here mates Kia’s 1.6-litre T-GDi four-pot engine with a 59bhp electric motor that draws its drive energy from a 1.49kWh lithium ion battery housed beneath the front seats. A combined system output of 226bhp and 258lb ft is sent to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox.

3 Kia sorento 2020 uk fd hero rear

What's it like?

Climb into the cabin and you’re greeted by an eye-catching environment that’s a far cry even from that of its immediate predecessor. There’s a slick new digital instrument binnacle and a smart 8.0in infotainment touchscreen perched atop the stepped dashboard. Soft-touch materials and silver and glossy-black plastic trim finishers may not quite lift the Sorento to truly Audi or Land Rover-baiting levels of material quality, but they look smart enough and feel like they’ve been solidly assembled.

Practicality is good, too. There’s acres of space in the second row, and a sliding bench means that adults can fit in the third row for shorter hops, too. Just be mindful of the slightly mean head room way back there and the fact that you’ll shrink the boot from 813 litres to 179 litres by having those seats in place.

Performance is solid, if not overtly brisk. The hybrid system provides decent enough initial punch when pulling away, but the engine tends to do the majority of the heavy lifting. In such instances, you certainly hear the 1.6-litre unit churning away, but it’s certainly quieter than the normally aspirated engines Kia fits to some of its plug-in hybrids.

EV mode only really kicks in when you’re maintaining a consistent speed, and so on a brief test route that mixed 30, 40, and 50mph zones, we saw an average economy figure that flitted between 37 and 38mpg.

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The Sorento is a comfortable beast. There’s a stoutness about its low-speed ride that’s likely a product of firmer spring rates required to keep a 2006kg SUV in check, but there’s good pliancy through undulations and, on 17in alloys, it rounds off sharp impacts nicely (although the 19in wheels on posher models don’t manage quite as well). 

Its handling, meanwhile, is secure and predictable, if largely forgettable. You absolutely won’t feel the need to hustle this car down a road for the pure thrill of it. But if, for whatever reason, you give it a go, you’ll find that there’s a bit of lean through particularly quick bends and that its traction control system pulls the plug long before you really start testing the limits of grip. 

10 Kia sorento 2020 uk fd dashboard

Should I buy one?

In 2 specification, the Sorento hybrid comes in at £38,845, which makes it a bit pricier than the likes of the Peugeot 5008 and Skoda Kodiaq. It also means it’s pushing into territory occupied by the likes of the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Mercedes-Benz GLB. However, it packs an appealing level of standard kit (there’s no sat-nav, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included) and, at 4810mm long, it’s a fair bit larger than those cars.

The way it drives may not set your heart alight, but from design and practicality standpoints, there’s more to like about the Sorento than ever before. And surely in the world of big, reasonably affordable SUVs, that should count for a fair bit.

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MaxTorque 23 September 2020

I'd take this over a land

I'd take this over a land rover any day of the week. It's better equipped, far better value and it won't spend half of its life chained to a garage after all of its systems have failed
soldi 22 September 2020


Terrible CO2 value, especially for a hybrid!

si73 23 September 2020

soldi wrote:

soldi wrote:

Terrible CO2 value, especially for a hybrid!

Is it? Even for a seven seat car of this size? I thought it looked quite good.

sipod 22 September 2020

Looks like a great product

.... decently priced and awesome warranty. Surely will take some for the market from 'premium' marques IMO.