Despite already being one of the larger entrants in the £30k family 4x4 market, the Sorento has grown: by 95mm in overall length, 80mm in the wheelbase, and very marginally on width.
A decrease in height always neatly disguises such a spurt, and the new Sorento’s roofline is also 15mm lower than it was. But although it competes with many of them, you couldn’t really call this a compact SUV. A Mercedes-Benz GLS is little more than an inch longer, and the Skoda Kodiaq is smaller than both.
Some minor weight savings in the suspension and under the bonnet are claimed, but our road test on the previous Sorento confirms that the quoted kerb weight has actually risen by 41kg. But solidity, refinement and space are near-impossible qualities to engineer into a car without making it heavier. If Kia has succeeded on all three fronts, 41kg is a small price to pay.
The all-steel platform has been completely redesigned. Its body-in-white now has twice the proportion of high-strength steel, and torsional rigidity is up by 14 percent. A new rack-mounted electro-mechanical power steering set-up is intended to deliver greater directional precision to the handling, and the suspension continues to be all independent.
A new geometry is adopted for the front struts as well as new shock absorbers and hydraulic rebound springs. New repositioned shocks are fitted for the multi-link arrangement at the rear, as well as a new subframe bush to enhance ride comfort.
As for off-road ability, steel coils give a fixed ride height that delivers only modest approach and breakover angles and ground clearance of 185mm, none of which makes the Sorento desperately rugged.
But the faster-acting Dynamax clutch-based four-wheel drive system introduced on previous Sportage has been adopted for its bigger brother, which allows a 50/50 front-to-rear torque split to be locked in at up to 25mph. There’s also a new brake-actuated torque vectoring system called Advanced Traction Cornering Control.
For the frequent towers who remember the first-gen, ladder-frame Sorento fondly, the new manual version is rated to haul 2.5 tonnes on a braked trailer and it has a self-levelling rear-end – both still making it relatively appealing. But of wider interest may be the conjuring of another 3bhp and 14lb ft of torque from the car’s ‘R-family’ 2199cc turbodiesel engine, as well as cutting fuel consumption and emissions.