Kia Sorento – goodbye

The dreaded day has arrived when we need to bid a fond farewell to our Kia Sorento on long-term test.

It’s been an eventful six months here at Parkers and our car has risen brilliantly to every challenge we’ve thrown at it.

When I moved house it showcased its excellent practicality credentials, it was a comfortable ride over many early morning airport journeys and even showed how agile and compact it could be in my local multistorey car park - despite its large dimensions.

Although we were sceptical about the six-speed manual in our test car, after only a few trips we actually grew to prefer it. Its smooth action and well-judged ratios really suit this engine. Only when driving off-road do we think you’d really miss an auto gearbox.

Unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to test the Sorento off-road during its loan with us, but we have on previous occasions and been impressed with its overall soft-roading skills and go-anywhere ability.

As you’ve probably noticed, the Sorento is a big car, so it was never going to win many fans in the handling stakes. 

This isn’t a sports car, though, and most will find it accomplished and easy to drive. The  2.2-litre diesel engine surprised us with how smooth and quiet it was. There was plenty of pulling power on offer too, making overtaking and joining the motorway much easier.  

One area the Sorento really shines over its competitors is in the value-for-money stakes. You get so much kit for the £35,845 price tag.

KX-3 trim is the ideal spec to pick as you get equipment like sat-nav, a heated steering wheel, xenon headlights, a panoramic sunroof and full leather upholstery as standard.

There’s a host of safety kit that impressed too (an overactive lane-departure warning system aside), including parking sensors and a reversing camera to help avoid bumps in the car park. The adaptive lights improve visibility at night when cornering and turning.

The Sorento is not the most sporting car we've ever driven, however it’s so accomplished in every other way that it more than makes up for this shortcoming.

Hugely practical, comfortable and loaded with kit, the Sorento has been one of our favourite members of the Parkers fleet to date and one we will miss for its impressive versatility.

There’s no time to sit back and reflect, though as when we took the Sorento back to the dealership we were presented with the keys to its smaller sibling, the new Kia Sportage, which has joined our fleet for the next six months.

Mileage: 3,703 miles 

Fuel economy: 35mpg

 

Tenth report: staying connected

It seems almost impossible to remember a life without smartphones now. How did we ever cope before?

Technology has advanced so much over the past 20 years, and staying connected is important to pretty much everyone these days - apart from my Dad who still refuses to buy a mobile phone.

It’s pretty rare for a new car not to come with Bluetooth and our long-term Kia Sorento’s system proved quick and easy to setup. We’re particular fans of how large the touchscreen buttons are when you want to dial a phone number, making it easier and safer when on the move than a lot of systems. It's still better to do this while stationary, though.  

The call log tab clearly displays the names and/or numbers of those last called and it only takes one touch to activate a call. The contacts tab is also easy to scroll through when compared with lots of rival arrangements.

Keeping in touch with friends or colleagues is very important, but if you’re like me, being able to listen to music - especially on long journeys - is an equal priority.

Luckily the Sorento has a 10-speaker sound system that offers excellent quality. Even the dance tracks on my iPod at full volume didn’t trouble it. You can also turn on surround sound which means those in the rear seats aren't short-changed when it comes to sound quality, plus in the settings tab you can easily change the balance, fader and equaliser controls.

There’s also a speed-dependant volume setting to adapt the stereo's output depending on the speed you’re travelling, getting louder when you’re driving quickly when there’s likely to be more road and engine noise inside the car - very useful.

The eight-inch touchscreen system is one of the simpler and more intuitive systems we’ve used and although it doesn’t come with the latest tech like Apple CarPlay, it comes equipped with everything you need to stay connected with friends on the move.

Mileage: 3,242 miles 

Fuel economy:  33.8mpg (calc)

 

Ninth report: cloud watching

We road testers rarely get to sample what life is like in the rear seats - such is the nature of the job. But knowing that those in the back are well catered for is an important consideration, especially if you have children.

During the past six months, we’ve been impressed with the amount of kit and practical options on offer in our long-term Kia Sorento, and it’s not limited to those in the front either.

Second row occupants are very well looked-after here.

For starters our KX-3 car comes equipped with heated rear seats. My step daughter was a particular fan through the colder months. The standard panormaic sunroof is ideal for keeping the kids entertained on sunnier days - our favourite game is guessing the various shapes in the clouds - but it also helps the cabin feel lighter too. 

It stretches all the way across the front and second row seats, flooding the cabin with light. The roof actually opens too, though we’d only recommend doing so at low speeds as it can get a little noisy otherwise. It’s a single switch, and the only niggle is that sometimes you can end up opening or closing the blind and the glass together with one push. This can be frustrating.

The second row has its own air-con controls, plus there is a USB port and 12-volt socket- ideal for keeping various devices charged over long journeys.

Storage options are plentiful too with magazine holders, door pockets and a rear armrest with cupholders inside. The leather seats are large and comfortable and can be reclined if one of your passengers fancies a nap on route. The reclining seats also make manoeuvring into the third row a little easier.

In the back row the Sorento is more spacious than you would think. Most adults will be comfortable here over long journeys and you’ve still got somewhere to store your smartphone and drink too.

Apart from one instance on the A1 at the beginning of our time with the Sorento, ride quality has proved excellent over the past six months with the suspension effortlessly soaking up the potholes and bumps in the road. It's a great car for those with more than 2.4 children. 

Mileage: 3,026 miles 

Fuel economy:  34mpg (calc)

 

Eigth report: safety first

Car safety has advanced so much over the past decade that it’s hard to keep up with all the assistance systems and autonomous tech available these days.

When our long-term Kia Sorento was originally crash-tested in 2014 by Euro NCAP, it achieved a full-five star rating, which impressed us.

Strong body shell 

Despite being larger than the previous Sorento, the car is 14 percent stiffer, helped by the increased use of high-strength steel which was a key attributing factor to the Sorento's 90 percent adult occupant score during testing.

Standard features like hill-start assist prove useful at preventing roll-back when you’re stopped at the traffic lights on a hill, while the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) prevents the car from skidding if you enter a bend too quickly or in slippery conditions by braking individual wheels and reducing engine torque.

A handy tyre pressure monitoring system is also available so you'll know you've got a puncture in advance of the tyre actually failing, preventing a potentially dangerous situation. 

One of the headline additions to the standard specification in KX-3 trim is the lane-departure warning system. Although something we’re used to seeing on a lot of modern cars, we were impressed with how well it works day-to-day, displaying both a visual alert in the driver instrument cluster and an audible beep when you stray out of the white lines on the road - departing your lane, in other words.

Lively lane-depature warning system

The system can be a little overactive at times, though, and we’ve had to resort to turning it off via the button by the side of the steering wheel on a couple of occasions as it became annoying.

Also included as standard on KX-3 cars is a reversing camera and parking sensors - both things we've talked about a lot in previous reports.

Another useful feature is the speed limit information display. This highlights what the speed limit is on the road you’re travelling on via the touchscreen and on the dash in front of the steering wheel. The system uses the car's on-board camera so doesn’t rely solely on sat-nav information which means it’s adaptive and will show the correct limit when there are roadworks or variable speed limits on motorways - very useful.

Lighting the way

We’re big fans of the Sorento’s lights too, sporting LEDs at the rear and xenon lamps at the front. The lights are adaptive, automatically directing the low-beam lighting according to the direction of the steering wheel to improve visibility during cornering and turning.

Front and rear foglights are also included and our long-termer comes with headlight washers too, so you’ve always got the best visibility possible when driving at night.

So, our long-term Sorento gets a big tick in the safety department.

In our next update we take a closer look at how well those in the rear seats are catered for.

Mileage: 2,811 miles

Fuel economy: 34mpg (calc)

 

Seventh report: moving house

Hands up those of us who enjoy moving house?

Anybody??

The truth is moving house is never a pleasant experience. The end result is usually a very good one but the event itself, for most of us, is stressful, tiring and long.

Even if everything runs smoothly, which let’s be honest happens to probably one percent of us, uprooting your life from one house to another is no easy feat.

But this was the task I was faced with recently as my husband and I moved from our home of eight years in Peterborough to a new, larger house in a neighbouring village.

We had a van for the weekend which enabled us to transport a lot of the big furniture, but having our long-term Kia Sorento on hand to help proved invaluable.

Measuring 4,780mm long and 1,890mm wide, the Sorento is a spacious car. But like so many seven-seaters, when all three rows of seats are in use, boot space isn’t especially great at 142 litres.

The second and third row are easily collapsed down by using the pully levers behind the chairs in the third row and via levers in the boot for the second row. The second row also has levers on the seats themselves (see below).

They fold flat, too, which was ideal for us when manoeuvring furniture. The automatic boot opening also proved very useful when we were laden with boxes to put into the car. Inside there are a couple of clips so you can secure anything fragile.

When we eventually finished loading and the Sorento was full of boxes and a chest of drawers to take to the new house, the engine's 197bhp and 311Nm of torque provided enough power to get up to speed quickly.

The extra weight did mean that the 2.2-litre diesel needed to work a little harder and it was slightly noiser than normal when accelerating as a result, although it never felt underpowered or compromised. The new house was only 10 miles away so the move didn't have too much of a negative impact on fuel economy overall, we averaged 25mpg over the two journeys (according to the trip computer).

When we needed to park the car at the new house, the 360-degree reversing camera on our test car  - which we've talked a lot about in previous reports - proved crucial once again, as rear visibility was a little compromised.

We all know that moving into a new house is only half the battle; once you’ve unpacked, there are countless numbers of boxes that need to be collapsed and taken to the local tip.

My family decided to have some fun here and guess how many of the said boxes (some were very large and couldn't be broken down) we would be able to squeeze into the Sorento. Feeling confident in our-long termer's ability, it’s no surprise that I guessed the highest amount at 30, but the Sorento surpassed expectation again and fitted 35 boxes inside which ultimately meant fewer trips to the tip and more time enjoying our new home - a victory for everyone all round, I think.

Mileage: 2,556

Fuel economy:  34mpg (calc)

Sixth report: Premium vs mainstream

We’re at the halfway point of our time with the Sorento and we still can’t believe how much value-for-money it provides when it comes to kit.

In KX-3 trim, which nears the top of the range, our Kia will cost you £35,845 and for that money there’s a whole host of equipment available as standard.

To put it into prospective, we thought we'd pit it against another seven-seat member of the Parkers fleet - the Audi Q7 - to find out how the Sorento compares to a similar-sized car at a different price point.

The Q7 comes in top-of-the-range S line trim and costs £52,970 to buy as standard, so it's significantly more expensive.

When you first sit in the Audi's cabin, the amount of advanced tech on offer can be a little overwhelming. It’s not until you look at the spec sheet that you realise our version is stacked with £11,475-worth of options.

Highlights like the Virtual Cockpit, seen first in the new TT in 2015, forms part of a Technology Pack which will cost you a whisker under £2,000. The excellent upgraded sound system adds an extra £1,100 to the price tag.

As standard in the Q7 you’ll get a four-zone climate-control system, 20-inch alloy wheels, leather and Alcantara seats, parking sensors, an eight-inch multimedia screen, heated seats and privacy glass.  

 

In complete contrast to Audi, Kia doesn’t really offer options for its Sorento. If you want more kit then you’ll need to move up the trim levels.  

Outside there’s smaller 18-inch alloys on offer, privacy glass, xenon headlights with automatic levelling and roof rails.

We’ve already talked in previous reports about the reversing camera and heated seats, both of which have impressed over the past three months. There’s also heated second row outer seats as standard - unlike the Q7 which has them fitted as a £400 option. Our long-term Sorento also comes with a heated steering wheel, something which is also missing from the Q7's standard spec.

Both cars offer an eight-inch multimedia screen with DAB radio and sat-nav. For optimum luxury and comfort, you can choose to upgrade the Q7’s part-leather upholstery to full Black Valcona leather for £1,100, something again already fitted as standard on our Kia.

So the Sorento wins on the kit front, but what about size?

The Q7 is a little longer and wider than the Sorento so offers more interior space, however both are roomy seven-seaters nonetheless. The Q7’s 770-litre boot significantly trumps our Sorento’s 650 litres, but the two are well matched when it comes to storage options around the cabin.

Both cars also come with an automatic tailgate which makes life easier day-to-day when carrying armfuls of luggage. The pair are also equipped with electronically adjustable seats, although the memory function (costing an extra £350) in the Q7 makes it easier to switch between three saved seating positions if more than one person often drives the car.

Interior quality is very good in the Kia, but as you would expect, Audi is in a league of its own for quality and refinement.

What about the drive?

With a 268bhp 3-litre diesel engine under the bonnet that delivers a huge 600Nm of torque, the Q7 will cover 0-62mph in just 6.5 seconds. The 2.2-litre diesel under the bonnet of our Sorento offers 197bhp and 311Nm of torque and lags significantly behind the Q7 for outright pace, completing the benchmark sprint in nine seconds.

We’ve found both engines to be smooth and refined, although the slick eight-speed automatic in the Q7 is far superior to the six-speed manual fitted in our Sorento.

You’d think that running costs are where the Sorento would gain a few extra brownie points, however both are almost identical at a claimed average of 46.3mpg for the Kia and 47mpg for the Q7, despite the latter’s extra performance. 

Despite the Sorento's accomplished performance on the road, the Q7 is better to drive, especially on the motorway with excellent comfort levels and superior handling.

There's no getting around the price, though. Considering there’s almost £30,000 between the two cars and the Kia comes so well equipped, we think that’s pretty hard to ignore, despite the Audi's better drive and interior quality.

In our next update we’ll be evaluating the Sorento’s practicality credentials following a recent house move.

Mileage: 2,160

Fuel economy:  33mpg (calc)

 

Fifth report: Multi-storey challenge

Owning a big car like our long-term Kia Sorento has many advantages; it’s spacious for a start and practical too, plus it’s ideal for growing families, offering seven seats as standard.  

But when it comes to parking at your local shopping centre, big cars can be a bit of a burden, especially if the spaces are tight.

Luckily for us, our test car comes equipped with a reversing camera as standard, with a high resolution screen to help when manoeuvring into a tight space.

Just in case the camera is obscured for some reason – for example when the car is well overdue a wash or the camera is iced over – our Sorento also comes with reversing sensors that emit an intermittant beep that escalates to a solid tone, the closer you get to an object behind you.

When parked, the door mirrors fold away too, cutting down the risk of your car being clipped or marked by other cars that park next to you.

The 2-litre diesel offers 422Nm of torque between 1,800 and 2,500rpm - plenty for making progress up the steep ramps to the next level. Our test car also comes with a Hill-start Assist Control system that stops the car rolling back if you're waiting on the ramp for other cars to get parked.

The only issue occured when we headed for the exit, as the lanes became very narrow with sharp turns. The Sorento has a fairly compact 11-metre turning circle, but although this latest model is significantly more accomplished when it comes to handling, we needed to keep the speed very low to make the bends in one go. 

Sometimes we were even forced to reverse and reposition the car.

So, although manoeuvring the Sorento around a multi-storey isn't as easy as smaller cars like the Ford Focus or MINI Hatch, the tech on board gives you plenty of confidence and peace of mind – no sweaty palms, anyway.  

We think our long-term Sorento represents very good value for money. To find out how it stacks up against premium alternatives, in our next update we’ll be pitting our Kia against another member of the Parkers fleet: the Audi Q7.

Mileage: 1,725

Fuel economy: 31mpg (calc)

 

Fourth report: Feeling regal

Our long-term Sorento has been with us for more than a month now and it’s settling into the Parkers fleet well. In fact, it's one of the most popular cars we’re currently running.

My colleagues particularly like the heated seats and steering wheel – not surprising considering the cold weather we’ve been experiencing lately.

First impressions of comfort levels are very positive, and what better way to properly put the car to the test then taking our Sorento on a long journey?

An opportunity came up a couple of weekends ago when my husband and I decided to visit Hampton Court for the day.

The 108-mile, two-hour route to Hampton Court is made up mainly of motorway travel with a little suburban driving. Last time we were on the A1, the Sorento lost some of its composure over a particularly uneven patch of road, calling into question the ride quality. On this particular journey however, the ride proved excellent with the suspension effortlessly soaking up the potholes and bumps in the road.

Finding a comfortable seating position is easy thanks to the electronic seats and the engine still surprises us on how smooth and quiet it is. Despite its raised height, there’s a lack of wind noise intruding the cabin too – even when driving at 70mph.

One important feature when entering unknown locations is the speed-limit display which, as the name suggests, highlights what speed you should be travelling at to keep you legal and to avoid getting snapped by speed cameras.  

The car felt supremely comfortable as the miles stretched on and the adaptive cruise control is on hand to make the long stretches of motorway even more relaxing – lane departure warning will soon tell you if you’re straying out of your lines if you become too distracted though.

As you’ll probably guess from the outside, there’s plenty of space for everyone to stretch out in the front and second row seats (we’re yet to test out the third row properly). The aforementioned heated seats and steering wheel keep you warm and toasty in the front, and the second row outer seats are heated too.

Our long-termer's 2-litre diesel engine offers 163bhp and 400Nm of torque, more than enough power to make decent progress on the slip road when we joined the M25.

You’ve got plenty of storage options throughout the cabin to store drinks and snacks (Haribo in my case) and thanks to the impressive sound insulation, having a conversation with everyone inside the car requires no raised voices, even at motorway speeds.

Bluetooth is simple to set up and the infotainment system easy to navigate around. Helping us to find our way to Hampton Court is the standard sat-nav system which performed faultlessly – we like the 3D effect on the map too.

Mileage: 1,334 miles

Fuel economy: 25mpg (calc)

Third report: Winter ready

I’m one of those people who really feels the cold, even when the temperature drops just a few degrees. My favourite jumpers, woolly gloves and trusty hot water bottle all come out of storage before the last of the autumn leaves have fallen.

For me, there’s nothing worse on those really cold mornings than having to sit inside a freezing cold car which takes forever and a day to warm up.

Luckily for me I’m currently driving our long-term Kia Sorento which has many features perfect for keeping everyone comfortable this winter.

Likely to become the most popular feature in the Sorento for the next few months are the heated seats. They're not just for front passengers either; those in the second row outer seats also get their rumps heated. My step-daughter's opinion of the Sorento has skyrocketed as a result.

Not long ago, heated steering wheels were the reserve of upper-class executive saloons, but they're becoming a regular feature on many option lists these days. However, our Sorento suprisingly offers it as standard on KX-3 trim. One of our favourite features, it quickly warms up and maintains a toasty temperature until turning itself off automatically after half an hour. If needed, you can easily turn it on again, though.

The dual-zone climate control helps set the cabin at the desired temperature individually for both you and your front passenger. This feature is particularly useful for me as my husband prefers sub-zero temperatures. It also comes with an ioniser to ensure the air coming out is as clean as possible.

Now it's dark at 4pm, our Sorento's lights are constantly in use for the commute to and from work. Automatic lights mean you can never forget to turn them on when leaving, and the xenon headlamps with automatic levelling are excellent at illuminating the road ahead. The lights are adaptive too - another feature we're impressed to see as standard - so they change direction to mirror the steering, which is very useful on winding country lanes.

I also like the headlight washers; very handy to help the lights shine as brightly as possible, especially during this time of year.  

We’ve only had a couple of light frosts so I haven’t had an opportunity to fully test the front and rear heated windscreens and heated door mirrors yet, but I’m looking forward to sitting in comfort on my heated seat, with my hands wrapped around a warm steering wheel, listening to the radio as the car does it all for me. If only the Sorento came with a built-in coffee machine, it would be the perfect winter morning companion.

Mileage: 887 miles

Fuel economy: 30.5mpg (calc)

Second report: First driving impressions

The Kia Sorento has been with us a few days now and we’ve already made our first stop for fuel. 

That doesn’t sound too impressive until you consider that the Sorento has a huge 71-litre fuel tank - this isn't a cheap car to fill up! But more on that later. 

With over 330 miles under our belt in the new car, we thought now would be an ideal time to sum up our first impressions.

One important thing to note is that the Sorento had just 141 miles on the clock when it arrived - pretty much just delivery mileage - so we’re going to need to give the engine some time to run in before we judge the fuel economy too harshly. Our first tank of fuel produced just 27mpg.

Under the bonnet of the Sorento is the only engine available in the range, a four-cylinder 2.2-litre diesel which offers a hefty 197bhp and 441Nm of torque.

First impressions are very good indeed - the engine is powerful and surprisingly quiet and smooth. Despite our long-termer's 2.5-tonne gross weight, it feels quick on its feet giving confidence when overtaking and joining the motorway.

Finding a comfortable seating position is easy thanks to the electronically adjustable seats and ride quality has impressed overall, except for one instance on a bumpy part of the A1 when the Sorento lost some of its composure. We suspect opting for 17-inch alloys rather than our test car's 18-inch wheels may improve this.

Mated to the engine is a six-speed manual gearbox which seems odd for a car of this size and type, with most manufacturers going for automatics instead. I’ve not quite got my head around driving it yet. That said, it’s proved well-matched to the engine so far.

The Sorento is no sports car but it’s accomplished on the road, mostly comfortable on the motorway and despite its size, handles in-town driving well.

There’s a fair amount of bodyroll in the corners though, as you may expect for a car of this size, and the Sorento can at times understeer in corners at speed, meaning the front end can wash wide. The steering has a choice of three settings, but if you want any feedback you’ll need to keep it in Sport mode. It's well-weighted overall, though.

So overall we’re enjoying our time in the Sorento, the engine is proving quiet and refined and the car comfortable over long distances. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the fuel economy as the weeks progress and we get more miles under our belt.

Mileage: 472 miles

Fuel economy:  27mpg (calc) 

  

First report: Welcome

Getting the keys to a new long-termer is always an exciting time and here is the latest addition to join the Parkers fleet - the Kia Sorento.

All-new for 2015, this latest-generation Sorento is larger and better equipped than before, with an upgraded interior and practical new features. Let us also not forget about that market-leading seven-year warranty.

We’re excited to be getting behind the wheel of our latest long-termer, however, as is now the tradition with new arrivals, first we must take a closer look at how the car shapes up on paper.

You can buy the Sorento in four grades and our car is in KX-3 trim, which sits near the top of the range and costs £35,845 to buy. There’s a whole variety of kit available as standard including heated seats and steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, privacy glass, keyless entry and start, leather interior, ten-speaker sound system and sat-nav.

There’s also a great deal of safety kit installed, including a 360-degree Around View reversing camera, a lane departure warning system, parking sensors and a traffic sign recognition tool. We’re particularly interested in testing the new reversing camera to see how it stacks up against the competition, and the heated steering wheel is going to be ideal for this wintry time of year.

Loaded with practical features and seven seats as standard, we’re looking forward to putting the Sorento to the test when I move house at the end of January. The 40/20/40 style split seats in the second row should prove useful, along with the 650-litre boot. Also fitted to our test car is the Smart Tailgate which opens automatically when you’re a metre away from the rear of the car with the keys in your pocket.

All UK versions of the Sorento come with a 197bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine under the bonnet. KX-3 cars come with the option of an automatic gearbox, but our car is fitted with a six-speed manual. Four-wheel drive is standard on all Sorentos too, which will be good when winter weather hits the UK, and we’re looking forward to testing our car off the beaten track during our tenure.

Headline figures include an official combined fuel economy of 46.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 161g/km. Thanks to the engine's 197bhp and 441Nm of torque, 0-62mph can be achieved in just nine seconds - not bad when you consider our Sorento has a gross weight of 2,590kg.

That’s enough evaluating the paperwork for now though, we need to get behind the wheel and find out what the Sorento is really like to drive on the road.

Mileage: 142 miles