By Breda Corrigan
The all-new KIA Sorento, now in its fourth generation, is living proof that KIA has follwed through with its transformation from budget brand to upmarket contender. The original Sorento, which was launched in 2002, was pretty much over-looked by large-SUV buyers at the time, and it did little to upset its mainstream rivals. However, the second and third-generations of the Sorento moved things on in terms of styling, practicality and technology, and they attracted a whole new audience to the KIA brand. Now, thanks to the new Sorento’s blend of premium features, confident and purposeful styling, impressive practicality and cutting-edge powertrain technology, KIA has achieved superstar status in the large 7-seat family SUV class.
Power and Trim Options;
The all-new KIA Sorento is available with a choice of turbo-diesel (CRDi) or petrol-electric plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrains, while trim levels consist of ‘K3’ and ‘K4’ configurations. As we have come to expect from KIA of late, both trim levels come extremely well equipped in terms of comfort, convenience, connectivity, safety and security, with luxury and excellent build quality providing a common theme between grades. With 202bhp and a hefty 440Nm of torque on offer, the 2.2-litre CRDi engine in the new Sorento is a lively and spirited performer, and it is mated to a slick 8-speed DCT (automatic) transmission and a FWD drivetrain. The new Sorento PHEV also offers spirited performance from its 1.6-litre T-GDI (Turbo-Gasoline Direct Injection) engine in union with an electric motor. Combined power and torque figures of 265PS and 350Nm respectively ensure that the Sorento PHEV can sprint from 0-100km/h in just 8.4-seconds, on it way to a top speed of 193km/h. The PHEV comes as standard with a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission, along with the reassurance of all-wheel-drive for times when the going gets tough. KIA claim that the new Sorento can do up to 56km’s on electric power alone, with fuel consumption as low as 1.6l/100km (up to 176.6mpg) possible when the car is used with a fully charged battery at the start of every journey. Thankfully, charging the Sorento PHEV is easy. A full charge will take 3hrs 25mins using a 3kW home wallbox, or five hours via a standard domestic socket. Cables for both charging types are included as standard. Additionally, a low emissions figure of 38g/km equates to annual road tax of just €140, while company car drivers will also reap the rewards of low benefit-in-kind rates for driving a new Sorento PHEV
The new Sorento is the first KIA vehicle in Europe to feature their cutting-edge Blind-Spot View Monitor (BVM) technology. This ‘second pair of eyes’ for drivers is designed to enhance safety for Sorento occupants, and other road users, by eliminating a driver’s left- and right-side blind spots, and is just one of a range of functions enabled by the Sorento’s new fully-digital ‘Supervision’ 12.3-inch instrument cluster. BVM enhances drivers’ vision either side of the car when driving on the road, and is operated instantaneously with the car’s turn signal.
It displays a high-resolution video feed on the left or right side of the TFT-LCD instrument cluster if the driver indicates to change lane with another vehicle, or bicycle, hidden in their blind spot. The video of the blind spot briefly takes the place of either the speedometer or tachometer dial display (or the hybrid system gauge in Sorento Hybrid models), while still showing the driver the vehicle’s current speed. The video feed comes from discreet wide-angle, high-resolution cameras, one hidden in each of the door mirror housings.
Impressive Safety Features;
KIA’s BVM technology forms part of a standard package of safety features, which includes a Surround View Monitor and Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist (PCA), making low-speed parking manoeuvres as safe and easy as possible, as well as Lane Keep Assist, Forward Collision Avoidance, Intelligent Speed Limit Assist, Manual Speed Limit Assist, Lane Following Assist, Highway Driving Assist, Trailer Stability Assist, Smart Cruise Control with Stop&Go technology, Multi Collision Brake, ABS, and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, along with multiple airbags for total peace of mind on every journey.
My test car was a KIA Sorento PHEV in range-topping ‘K4’ specification. Finished in striking Mineral Blue metallic paint, with contrasting two-tone grey and black leather seating, the Sorento looked powerful, sleek and beautifully assertive inside and out. Measuring in at over 4.8-metres long, 1.9-metres wide and 1.7-metres high, KIA’s all-new 7-seat SUV commands terrific road presence, while its ultra-modern styling is a feast for the senses. Given the impressive dimensions of the new Sorento, and with a wheelbase of over 2.8-metres, there is a vast amount of space on offer in the high-quality and ergonomically-designed cabin. The occupants of all three rows of seats in the new Sorento will benefit from the very latest in infotainment technology and connectivity, while enjoying the comfort of the leather-clad seating, and the supreme sound from the Bose™ premium sound system with 12 speakers (K4 model only). Standard ‘K4’ specification includes key features such as 19” alloy wheels, Smart Key & Button Start, Drive Mode Select, paddle shifter (lever type), auto lights and wipers, power-operated tailgate with height adjustment, rear door sun blinds, multiple USB chargers throughout the cabin, integrated cup holders, multi-operational air-conditioning with climate control, dual LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED rear combination lights, LED fog lights and indicators, rear privacy glass, acoustic windscreen, panorama sunroof, roof rails, heated seats (row 1 and 2), heated steering wheel, 10.25” Navigation screen with RDS, DAB and TMS, Bluetooth™ with voice recognition, and Ecall for emergency situations, along with a host of other useful features for busy families on the go.
On The Road;
On the road, the new Sorento handles with great agility, while the rotary gear shift dial is very easy to operate. Strong acceleration and a robust brake pedal feel ensure that the Sorento can move, and stop, with great urgency when needed, while overall driving dynamics are faultless. The Sorento remains composed over rutted road surfaces, while driving on smooth tarmac results in a magic-carpet ride quality.
Verdict & Pricing;
The all-new KIA Sorento offers all the luxury, space and comfort that most families will ever need, while the PHEV powertrain provides effortless power in a genuinely efficient way. With its confident stance and terrific build quality, the all-new KIA Sorento has all the necessary ingredients needed to make a bold statement to the premium brands. Pricing for the amazing new KIA Sorento 7-seat SUV starts at €52,440 for the CRDi 2WD, with the PHEV priced from just €50,000 (inclusive of an SEAI grant of up to €5,000). My K4 test car specification represents outstanding value at just €55,000 (inc SEAI grant). All KIA passenger cars come with a 7-Year/150,000km warranty as standard.