The Sorento feels built to last. With standard all-wheel drive and seven seats, this is a car built on a proper SUV architecture, not a crossover spun off a big family hatchback’s underpinnings. As such, it feels solid and robust, built for towing things, filling with people big and small, and whatever they want to bring with them.
The drivetrain is good but not outstanding, making for a car best enjoyed at leisure if you want to avoid its gruff diesel tones filling the cabin under a more heavy application of the right foot. That’s not to say it’s a slouch; quite the opposite, in fact, as its 0-60mph time is commendable for a car of its size and weight. What’s missing is that final level of refinement; when accessing any of the performance, you are made aware of the fact you are in a large, diesel SUV.
The pre-facelift Sorento and its old seven-speed auto’ was noted for its briskness off the line. The new ‘box takes that split second longer to engage, making you think twice about exploiting the gap you’d know you’d make every time before.
That final level of polish is missing on the dynamic front, too. It wallows its way over undulations in the road, and occasionally crashes its way across rougher surfaces, particularly at lower speeds. The handling is predictable, as is the steering. The car will never say boo to you, nor will it ever encourage you to forgot the fact you might be carrying six others and enjoy yourself. It’s too sensible for that.
Best sit back into the relaxing front seats and enjoy the cabin’s mighty equipment levels. The materials are nearly all soft to the touch, and mix robustness with even the occasional flash of luxury with the nice stitching on the leather chairs, for example.
The cabin design and layout could do with some more cohesion. The amount of technology and switches in there is almost overhwhelming, with a good study of the switchgear and various control functions needed to see if you want to turn the blind spot monitoring system on or off, make the England cricket team’s latest defeat disappear from your DAB radio, or play around with the different driving modes next to the gear shifter.
Then there’s that final level of polish again. What a Land Rover Discovery Sport - or any Land Rover for that matter – nails is the art of pinching the steering wheel with your fingers at three and nine on the steering wheel, your elbows resting in a line on the arm rests. The foot rest for your left peg is also a bit too big and intrusive, and made me fidget around in the footwell on longer journeys. Such mastery of SUV ergonomics is something Kia must still conquer.