BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Subscribe to Top Gear magazine
Sign up to our Top Gear Magazine
First Drive

Kia Sorento ‘3’ review: 2.2-litre diesel SUV tested

£40,560 when new
Published: 30 Nov 2020


  • BHP


  • 0-62


  • Max Speed


Nice car, mate!

You’re not the only one to have said that, which we found particularly curious. Curious because as thine eyes will attest, this is not a big, V12-engined shouty supercar, nor is it a particularly rambunctious hot hatch with fiery exhausts.

Advertisement - Page continues below

It isn’t even a Renault Espace.

It is in fact, a Kia Sorento, which is a big, seven-seat, awfully sensible SUV. That it attracted – anecdotally at least – loads* of attention means Kia’s design department has achieved an ‘Above Expectations’ mark on its latest appraisal.

*three, maybe four people

It does look cool, mate.

Advertisement - Page continues below

It’s certainly striking, even more so when you see it in the real world. Because only in the real world can its vastness, its embiggened-ness, its grille, that almost Americanised rear, be appreciated. It paints a heavy presence. (Incidentally, it is heavy, because it weighs 1,949kg.)

This ‘3’ version we’re testing – which sits, unsurprisingly, between ‘2’ and ‘4’ – gets larger 19in alloys, a gloss black front grille, privacy glass and LED headlights that are a) powerful enough to light up Wembley, and b) offer up something called ‘bi-functionality’.

And thus, we must commend Kia for trying to do some Style, whatever the execution. There’s no mistaking it in a car park, and in a sea of homogeneity, kudos for going a different route.

Is it cool on the inside, mate?

Top Gear

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

It’s quite lovely, actually. Again, it’s vast, for starters. The front seats are really very well designed for your garden-variety human, and the middle row offers up a load of space. With the third-row seats folded flat, the boot’s huge, and there’s an abundance of space to work with to accommodate a variety of human/dog/luggage sizes and interfaces, when the third row is what you’d call active. Enough, incidentally, to pack in a large, particularly squirmy Golden Retriever.

Plus, the fit, finish and material selection feels not just hardwearing, but of a good quality. It’s packed with things Real Life Families (not just the ones in the brochures) will use – power points, lights, vents, USB sockets and so forth.

Our ‘3’ test car also threw in black leather, electric heated seats, privacy glass, Kia’s ‘UVO Connect’ comms system (traffic info, weather, POI and so on) all called up on the excellent, flat 10.25in central LCD widescreen, and wireless smartphone charging.

Fancy. Does it drive itself, mate?

To an extent, yes. Our test car came with the Highway Driving Assist function which is the posh cruise control you find nowadays that maintains a set distance from the car in front and keeps the Sorento in the middle of the lane. Handy for long, not-very-exciting trips. Worked a treat, too.

Will I want to do long, not-very-exciting journeys in this, mate?

Probably. This diesel – a 2.2-litre, 199bhp four-cylinder unit – is fairly well refined when driven sensibly. Kia tells us its new ‘Smartstream’ unit features an aluminium block and is nearly 40kg lighter than the old car’s engine. It’s got a fair slug of torque – 325lb ft – and is able to accelerate from 0-62mph in 9.1s, topping out at a heady 127mph. Both of those numbers fairly meaningless, because it’s a family SUV.

So more importantly and unexcitingly, it’ll return a claimed 42.2mpg (we managed just under 40mpg without trying at all) and emit 176g/km of CO2.

The ride’s good and overall it’s a comfortable car to while away the miles in. We noted in our Big Review that tyre noise can be an issue, which still stands, but on the whole it’s decent. Up to a point.

What about exciting things, mate?

Don’t like your family much, eh? The steering’s numb, but it’s accurate and there’s little body roll, so it all feels nicely balanced. But you really, really don’t want to be slinging two tonnes of SUV around (it’ll pull over 2.5-tonnes of stuff, mind). In any case, in the sportier mode, the engine gets a little gruff, and the normally slick eight-speed auto a little flummoxed. Plus, you don’t need red instrument dials in a sensible SUV. Wind it in, hot shot, and instead choose from one of SIXTY FOUR interior mood lighting colours.

Should I buy one, mate?

You should certainly consider it, because it’s a fine, well-made and incredibly practical SUV. Again, deferring to our Big Review of this new Sorento, the hybrid is better suited to town work, whereas this diesel – only available in the trim we tested here – is better for the long-haul motorway stuff.

Our test car came in at £41,245. A Kodiaq vRS – a very decent diesel SUV – is but a couple of grand more, and you can get lesser trims for around the same price.

It’s a good thing, this, and that it comes with Kia’s famously huge warranty means – like the car itself – it’ll be very easy to live with. If that’s your philosophy, go for it.

Score: 7/10

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine