Kia are an odd car company.
They are odd in that they offer a seven year warranty across the range, not the industry standard three, they are odd in that they consistently put the customer first, hence why they are at the top of the J.D. Power survey this year, and they are odd because they trusted me with their immaculate low-mileage flagship Sorento for ten days in rural France.
So here’s to oddness, or more appropriately – Vive La Difference.
The car they gave me was a heck of a lot tidier than the car I returned, and is one smart large SUV. The bold features and very high quality finish stand out, as well as the obvious superb standard of the components and build. This is a rugged, solid and handsome machine inside and out.
The leather trim is worth an extra mention. There is leather and then there is Leather. This is definitely the latter – with the thickness and pliability of a cherished old biker jacket – it puts many European manufacturers to shame and should handle the abuse of an active family for many a year.
Another area where it can handle abuse is in its crash protection, which is a match for all the European manufacturers except Volvo, and this is one of the few cars to score 90% or above for the driver.
My demands on the car were pretty stringent – take two boys and myself to France in extreme comfort; carry three bikes and all the gear for 7 nights glamping; perform some quite demanding off-road exploring; find our various destinations; don’t break.
The Sorento met or exceeded these needs across the board, and excelled in many ways. The sat nav was as user-friendly as any I have experienced and was not phased by out-of-the-way addresses; indeed it also gave some very useful detours when the going got decidedly British.
All our kit, including the bikes, was placed inside the car – it is a 7-seater but the back row folds flat very easily with one handed operation and presents a massive boot space of more than 600L with extra space under the false floor. I don’t like bike-racks and having the option to avoid one gave me great peace-of-mind.
As for comfort however, this trumped all the other talents I found in the Sorento. My spine is paying me back for decades of abuse and I can suffer on longer journeys, but I never did. The boys too slept very well when the mood took them – this is most unusual – while the car is priced to compete with the X-Trail and Santa Fe, its level of quality and refinement throughout deserves to turn the heads of potential German, British or Swedish marque buyers.
There is more though than space and comfort on offer here. The elec-trickery includes a motorised tailgate, panoramic roof and multi-adjustable driver’s seat as well as good connectivity and infotainment. The build quality means road-noise is very low for a 2.5 ton car on big wheels and it can cover 100’s of miles of French “Péage” toll roads at good speed while still returning better than 40mpg. I won’t say what those speeds were but they started with either a 9 or a 1…
While the Sorento is not marketed as a vigorous off-roader, it offers a decent 4×4 system to help with ice and slippery conditions so it seemed only fair to chuck it at some dirt. The car didn’t complain and indeed seemed to be having as much fun as we did. My first steep grassy climb saw the car power up enough to give a little leap of joy at the top, and the following series of undulations and banks were dealt with without drama. The power, grip and intelligent system would certainly make a good horse-box or caravan towing vehicle, with a lofty braked towing limit of 2.5 ton.
Of course every car has its faults, and to be concise I will bullet-point them –
- You can only open / shut the windows with the engine running.
Company tag-lines are usually marketing word-salad, such as “Insulate to the power of Kingspan”, or “I can’t believe…” but there are a few out there that speak the truth – Corsodyl cut to the chase with “For people who spit blood when they brush their teeth” but Kia truly know what they are on about when they declare “The power to surprise”.
That was 1300 happy miles and 1 impressive motor.
Power – 197BHp
Torque – 441Nm
0-60 – 9 sec
Top Speed – 124
Avg MPG – 47.1
CO2 – 159
Price – £35,845
words & pics – Mark Wolens