The Sorento may look like a car that’s at last ready to take on premium SUV opponents, but it still doesn’t quite drive like one.

Its hybrid powertrain’s extremely limited capacity for emissions-free running frustrates, as do the limited gains in efficiency that its tepid electric motor affords. And although it handles in a sure-footed and confident fashion, you don’t have to look too hard to find a road surface capable of shining an unflattering light on the less savoury aspects of its ride.

It lacks polish but abundant utility appeal and value shine through

What the Sorento still lacks in dynamic finesse, however, it makes up for in sheer usefulness. It is a spacious, well-made, well-equipped and impressively versatile seven-seat SUV that’s handsomely formed and strategically priced. In that sense, it builds on Kia’s traditional strengths very well indeed.

A better balance between performance and efficiency may be struck by the forthcoming plug-in hybrid model, and perhaps that will make up for the car’s dynamic shortcomings elsewhere. Those shortcomings aren’t huge but, given the car’s bold design and enduring practicality, they’re certainly among the very last things holding the Sorento back.

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