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Kia Sorento review (2012 onwards)
What: Kia Sorento
Where: Barcelona, Spain
Date: October 2012
Price: £26,495 - £35,095
Available: on sale now, in showrooms December 2012
Key rivals:Hyundai Santa Fe, Nissan Qashqai+2, Vauxhall Antara/Chevrolet Captiva, Land Rover Discovery
The new Kia Sorento ticks the boxes for refinement and practicality, but can people live with the price?
We like: smooth turbodiesel engine and automatic gearbox, improved interior, greater efficiency
We don't like: body roll, no bespoke UK chassis option, material quality still lacking in areas
Read more Kia car reviews
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When you first clap eyes on the new Kia Sorento you'd be forgiven for thinking the Korean firm had made a mistake - it looks almost identical to the old car. It's been touched up in places - the fog lights are now upright in the front bumper, while the boot and taillights have been massaged - but the differences are marginal.
Which is completely at odds with the new car's underpinnings. The latest Sorento gets a new chassis - touted to be 100kg lighter than before - the same item that its sister vehicle, the new Hyundai Santa Fe, is based on.
Kia has missed a trick in not updating the styling further
Sharing a chassis and powertrains, it's inevitable that people will compare both vehicles, and it's round one to the Hyundai on the first impressions front.
The former Sorento never struggled with its looks, and even though it wasn't an old design, we can't help feeling Kia has missed a trick in not updating the styling further for the new car.
Still, it's the oily bits underneath we want to assess fully - are the driving experience, refinement and comfort better than they were?
It's a yes on the first count, according to the numbers. The Sorento gets a reworked version of the 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel carried over from its predecessor. Not only is it more economical, it's faster too.
With 197hp on tap 0-60mph comes up in a best of 9.4 seconds, while top speed is quoted at 118mph. A decent swell of torque - 311lb ft between 1,800 and 2,500rpm - means in-gear performance is good, too. In fact, the Sorento yields identical performance figures to the Santa Fe.
And just like the Hyundai, the engine and six-speed automatic transmission are smooth and refined.
The Sorento will be offered in four-wheel-drive guise only, meaning there should be plenty of traction when you need it - we never found the Sorento lacking in this regard.
Ride and handling
Kia's new SUV effort is sharper to drive than before; however, unlike the Santa Fe, the car's chassis does not get a bespoke set-up for the UK market - and it shows.
Although it drives well and gives a reassuring feel of safety and solidity from behind the wheel, it's not the last word in big off-roader dynamics. The steering is direct enough but the levels of grip available are not communicated with any clarity.
the Sorento is comfortable, easy to drive and feels sure-footed
Coupled to a chassis that rolls in the turns, it means you can easily misjudge a corner and find yourself going into a bend a little over-eagerly. It's a pleasant vehicle to pilot at speeds just a bit faster than a leisurely cruise, but push the Sorento any more than that and it rapidly starts to feel out of its comfort zone.
But that's not what the car is about. How many buyers will have it on its door handles with the kids in the third row of seats? As a practical family off-roader, the Sorento is comfortable, easy to drive and feels sure-footed.
Kia has made impressive strides with interior quality over recent years, and the new Sorento doesn't buck the trend. That said, it doesn't feel quite as upmarket inside as Hyundai's Santa Fe and the old-school digital clock is a bit naff.
The devil is in the detail - like the Santa Fe's new soft-touch plastic indicator stalks. The Sorento doesn't get them, making do with the harder, shinier and scratchier items.
The manual Sorento will now return 47.9mpg
There are soft touch materials in the cabin and the TFT display in the centre of the instrument binnacle is a nice upmarket feature, but it feels a little like leftovers warmed through, rather than an all-new dish inside.
It is comfortable, well appointed and practical inside, however. The Sorento's second row of seats fold forward fully to give good access to the rear, and boot space stands at a usable 515 litres with the third row of seats collapsed.
Equipment specifications are good, too. The £26,495 entry-level KX-1 gets cruise and automatic climate control, while KX-2 and KX-3 models get automatic lights and wipers, leather and reversing sensors, and an electric driver's seat. There are sat-nav versions available, too.
Economy and safety
The improvements to the Sorento's 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel motor have resulted in significant improvements of 5.7mpg combined with 22g/km CO2 emissions over the car it replaces. The manual Sorento will now return 47.9mpg combined with 155g/km CO2 - class-leading performance, according to Kia.
The new vehicle gets a host of electronic driver aids, including some useful gadgets to help aid progress off-road. Six airbags come fitted as standard, as do active head restraints to reduce whiplash.
noteworthy for its refinement and practicality
The new Sorento has not yet been put through the latest EuroNCAP assessment, but as the previous car achieved a full five-star rating, expect the new model to score a similar result.
The MSN Cars verdict
The new Sorento doesn't quite feel as premium as Hyundai's latest Santa Fe inside, and nor does it handle quite as well as its UK-tuned sister vehicle.
Prices start at £26,495 and rise to a significant £35,095 - the brand has changed and is now more upmarket than ever, with its products reflecting that, but have potential buyer's perceptions of the badge developed at the same rate? We're not so sure.
However, decent improvements in fuel economy - as well as good strides forward within the cabin - and the added versatility of being able to fold the second row of seats forward fully (rather than just sliding bases and collapsible seat backs like the Hyundai) means the Sorento is noteworthy for its refinement and practicality.
Need to know
Engines, petrol: N/A
Engines, diesel: 2.2-litre four-cylinder
Torque: 311lb ft
0-62mph: 9.4 secs
Top speed: 118mph
MPG combined: 47.9 (manual), 42.2 (auto)
CO2: 155g/km (manual), 175g/km (auto)
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