The all new Kia Sorento, which is now available in our markets, offers a unique blend of style, practicality and technology, building on the success of the outgoing model. A smoother, swept-back profile and deeply sculpted surfaces introduce a greater level of sophistication for the third generation of this popular Kia SUV. The premium look and feel is echoed in the cabin, which offers more space for up to seven occupants and numerous innovative features.
The styling changes are evolutionary. They subtly alter the character of the new Sorento, highlighting its sleek, sinuous profile, while creating a sophisticated appearance and ensuring the new model has a bolder on-the-road presence.
The front of the new Sorento incorporates long, wrap-around headlamps and more prominent fog lamps, as well as a larger, more upright 'tiger-nose' grille with a distinctive three-dimensional diamond pattern that was first seen on the 2013 Kia Cross GT concept.
In profile, the new model retains the Sorento's hallmark long bonnet and characteristic wide D-pillar, but a lower roofline, higher beltline and swept-back shape give the car a more dramatic, muscular stance.
The rear of the car features more prominent 'shoulders' and a highly sculpted registration plate surround. The latter is made possible by the introduction of new laser welding manufacturing techniques - a first for a Kia model - which renders weld lines invisible, meaning the Sorento can do without the traditional joint-masking garnish on the tailgate.
The exterior styling of the new car was led by Kia's Namyang design studio in Korea, with significant input from the brand's Frankfurt, Germany, and Irvine, California, design studios.
Some of the most significant improvements are to be found inside the all new Sorento. Interior styling was led by the brand's European design team, based in Frankfurt, and Kia's designers have created a more sophisticated, more luxurious cabin, featuring significantly higher quality materials.
The styling of the cabin follows a 'modern and wide' theme. This is evident through the horizontal layout of the instrument cluster, interior trim and the wraparound dashboard, which extends into the door trims. A higher proportion of soft-touch materials and leather creates a modern luxury feel to the cabin and gives the new Sorento the ambience of a genuinely premium interior space.
One of the most distinctive interior styling features is the Swiss watch-inspired user interface, which incorporates Kia's latest HMI (human-machine interface) technologies, surrounded by a new silver-look frame.
The flowing contours of the dashboard were inspired by the contours of the human body and rise to incorporate the driver's instrument binnacle. The smoothly-styled design curve in the doors, which leads from the audio speakers up to the grab handles and arm rests, also endows the cabin with a more sophisticated and visually harmonious appearance.
New available features include an around-view monitor, which helps the driver to manoeuver when parking by presenting live images from one of four cameras onto the 7 inch or 8 inch color screen, along with superimposed guidelines.
The Smart Power Tailgate automatically opens when the key is 'sensed' in close proximity to the trunk, so owners can load their shopping bags or heavy objects straight into the vehicle.
The new Sorento is equipped with one of two instrument binnacles. The standard 3.5 inch mono LCD screen is located between two analogue dials in the center of the instrument binnacle, displaying all major trip computer information in one place, such as vehicle range and average and instant fuel consumption. A new optional 7 inch color TFT LCD screen, with an electro-luminescent instrument cluster and digital speedometer, further improves the modern form and function of the interior while displaying all relevant journey information which the driver can select from the multi-function steering wheel.
As the latest model in Kia's modern vehicle lineup, the Sorento is available to customers with a range of multimedia entertainment options. Depending on market, the standard audio system provides a 3.8 inch display, MP3 CD player, multimedia ports for USB and AUX-in connections, and six speakers around the cabin. A 4.3 inch version is available, also fitted with a rear parking camera. The latest version of Kia's optional audio-video navigation (AVN) system comes with either a 7 or 8 inch TFT LCD touchscreen display.
Customers seeking a more immersive audio setup can also specify an advanced premium sound system, with 10 speakers located around the cabin (including a subwoofer) and an external amplifier to provide a more powerful, high quality sound.
Two gasoline engines will be offered, including 2.4 liter and 3.3 liter multi-point injection (MPI) engines. The Sorento LX comes with a 191 hp 2.4 liter four cylinder, while a 290 hp 3.3 liter V6 is optional on the EX and standard on the SX. Both engines feature direct fuel injection, a high tech feature that improves fuel economy and lowers exhaust emissions, plus a six speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode and front or all wheel drive.
We can't say the Kia Sorento stands out as our favorite, but we think every midsize SUV customer should put it on their shortlist. It has great value for money and improved equipment.
One word: gentleman
Rivals: Chevrolet Traverse, Mazda CX-9, Honda Pilot, Ford Flex, Toyota Highlander
Pros: continuous transmission shift, lively V6 engine, relaxed to manoeuvre
Cons: limited cargo space among three row midsize SUVs