Kia has struck an appreciably sensible handling balance with the latest Sorento. It doesn’t attempt to change direction with the heightened sense of agility or responsiveness you find in the likes of Mercedes’ GLB, or even Seat’s Seat Tarraco.

Instead, it matches a more lax attitude to body control with a medium-paced steering rack that builds resistance in a manner that feels well matched to its lateral roll rates. The weighting of the steering itself does come across as slightly contrived – particularly in Sport mode – but it nonetheless keeps you abreast of what’s going on beneath you reasonably well.

It’s primarily a soft, comfort-led set-up so it doesn’t take much for its nose to veer away from the apex on damp roads, but it remains predictable and stable

Which is just as well, because the Sorento doesn’t generate huge amounts of mechanical grip. On damp stretches of road, its nose will begin to push into understeer relatively easily, but such transgressions are calmly and quickly corrected by its ESC systems.

And if, for whatever reason, you’ve switched them off, a gentle lift of throttle is all that’s required to right its line. That said, even though the efficiency-focused Continental EcoContact 6 tyres fitted to our test car would have minimised the effort required to reach the limit of grip, this is a big, heavy car that you would instinctively drive pretty gently.

It keeps enough suspension travel up its sleeve to prevent it from severely glancing off any ruts you might encounter halfway round a bend, but its softer set-up doesn’t always play to its favour. On more uneven stretches of road, its body control can wallow in a way that’s particularly noticeable at speed.

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Such movements by no means feel dangerous or serve to greatly hinder stability, or the car’s sense of connection with the road underfoot, but it does fractionally undermine some of the confidence that its sure-footed handling can muster on unblemished surfaces.

Kia Sorento comfort and isolation

On smooth roads and motorways, the Sorento behaves in a largely composed and comfortable fashion. Its softer suspension set-up allows its body to rise and settle again in time with long-wave inputs and provides a welcome level of pliancy.

Its cabin is impressively hushed at motorway speeds, too. At a 70mph cruise, our microphone returned a reading of 66dB – the same result that we got in the Aston Martin DBX. Add to all of this a lofty driving position that affords excellent visibility and comfortable proximity to the car’s primary controls, and the Sorento makes a very competent companion over distance.

But outside of these sorts of long-haul, low-stress driving environments, its approach to ride comfort isn’t always quite as assured. That aforementioned long-wave softness can cause it to feel heavy, spongy and poorly controlled over particularly uneven surfaces, but worse is that this then combines with a firm, leaden-feeling secondary ride over sharper edges. Even on those balloon-like tyres, it can thump quite noisily and forcefully over expansion joints and drain covers.

This leaves the Sorento open to inadvertently painting itself as an at times cumbersome and awkward SUV; one that doesn’t always know quite how to react when it’s taken out of its immediate comfort zone. And it is arguably this slightly imbalanced disposition that most starkly differentiates the Kia from the more polished, upmarket family SUVs that reside north of the £40,000 mark.

Assisted driving notes

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Our 2-grade Sorento is well-endowed with driver assistance technology, most of which is integrated in a way that makes it easy to use. Given that there’s limited inherent driver appeal about this large seven-seat SUV, that additional level of assistance is, more often than not, appreciated.

There are a few niggles, though. On country roads, the Sorento’s sheer size means its lane-keeping assistance and lane-departure warning systems pipe up frequently. If they become too frustrating, you can swiftly deactivate the systems via a button on the steering wheel.

Some may appreciate the Sorento’s ability to make small, automatic steering adjustments during motorway running, even if the execution isn’t quite perfect. Our testers found the manner in which the assisted steering delivered these corrections to be a bit jarring at times. Thankfully, you can use the adaptive cruise control without it.