For a market that was supposed to be dying less than a year ago, the SUV sector is in remarkably good shape. Despite the drive for smaller, more efficient city cars, there’s still demand for the something that will take the family off on an action weekend, biking, canoeing etc.
The key factor is the evolution of the concept. Kia’s new Sorento is an ideal example of this. Where there was once a robust ladder frame, live rear axle and low range transfer box, there is now fully independent suspension, traction control, hill descent control, decent automatic gearbox with a lowish first gear and a turbodiesel engine with plenty of torque.
I'm not sure whether this is down to customers being clearer about what they actually want, car makers realising you there's more to lifestyle vehicles than hardcore 4x4s, or the harsh realities of crash safety and fuel consumption. Probably a combination of all three. Anyway, it's good news.
It’s difficult to imagine being in a position to compare old and new in the same conditions, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the new Sorento, though no doubt less able in the rough than its predecessor, has as much four-wheel drive ability as owners will need.