Nearly 50 grand for a Kia? You have to be kidding.
But apparently not, because this week we are testing the new fourth generation Kia Sorento.
This seven-seat SUV is the biggest car the South Korean manufacturer makes – and at top spec, or grade 4 as Kia calls it, you will pay £46,945.
That puts the car up against Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover, both more desirable badges.
The entry level Sorento, however, at £38,845 is a different matter, as we’ll come to.
First of all, what’s new about this Sorento? The big deal is it’s now available with a hybrid powertrain.
Under the bonnet is Kia’s 1.6-litre GDi (Gasoline Direct injection) petrol engine that is combined with a 44.2kW electric motor for a total output of 226bhp and 258lb ft of torque.
Four-wheel drive is standard on all Sorentos, and on the petrol engine the only transmission is a six-speed automatic.
Kia quotes a top speed of 119mph and 0-60mph in 8.7sec. More important numbers are fuel consumption figures of 38.2 to 40.9mpg depending on trim level. We drove both the entry level ‘2’ and the top of the range ‘4’ and found that – even with careful driving – consumption in the mid 30s was more realistic.
If you tow a caravan look instead at the diesel-powered Sorento which features a 2.2-litre engine that produces 199bhp and 325lb ft of torque.
The braked towing capacity of the old Sorento diesel was 2,000kg but this one can manage 2,500kg – the petrol hybrid by contrast, can tow only 1,650kg.
The 2.2 CRDi diesel engine comes only in ‘3’ trim and costs £41,245. We drove this version, too, and for my money this is the one I’d choose.
The small petrol engine struggles in this two-tonne 4×4 even with just a driver. Fully loaded with seven people it would feel very sluggish.
The diesel’s torque, driving through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, makes lighter work of pulling away.
That judgement might soon change when Kia introduces a plug-in hybrid powertrain later this year.
With a 66.9kW electric motor I suspect the car will feel lively away from the lights and then there are those PHEV tax advantages for business users.
The new Sorento has clean and tidy styling that makes it look slightly smaller than its 4,810mm long and 1,900mm wide dimensions. It’s built on a new platform that’s paid dividends for interior space.
There’s more legroom for both front and middle row passengers. The two rearmost seats are best left for kids but there’s more room than in Mercedes’ seven-seat GLB or in Land Rover’s Discovery Sport.
The interior is a massive step up from the last model.
There are plenty of soft touch materials, bright trim pieces and quality fabrics. It’s perfectly adequate, as is the technology.
A 10.25in touchscreen comes standard with sat-nav on the ‘3’ and ‘4’ spec cars. There’s a proper rotary control for the audio system’s volume and for scrolling through menus.
Driving modes include Eco, Sport and Smart on the hybrid models and an additional Comfort mode on the diesel. Add to that Snow, Mud and Sand off-road settings.
The 17inch wheels fitted to the ‘2’ give the most comfortable ride around town, but even the bigger 19s on the ‘4’ don’t turn the Sorento into an uncomfortable motor over bumps and ruts.
The turning circle is wide but on the move the car doesn’t feel as big as it is.
Both of the automatic gearboxes are smooth and both engines are quiet.
The 2020 Kia Sorento is a no-nonsense, large practical vehicle that’s comfortable and will do the job just as well as its more flash and posher rivals.
It’s a typical Kia in other words.
And although the sticker price for the top model may look stiff, the more sensibly priced ‘2’, which Kia reckons will be the best seller, contains a lot of standard equipment.
Kia Sorento 1.6 Gdi ‘2’ five-door SUV
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol, 226bhp
Fuel consumption: 38.2-40.9mpg
Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi Premium
Diesel engines only – which may put off many.
Mercedes-Benz GLB AMG Line Premium
Interesting looking newcomer. But add features like 4×4 and it gets expensive.
Land Rover Discovery Sport
Also a mild hybrid and available with 5+2 seating.