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2013 Kia Sorento SUV Review

Refresh for Kia's biggest SUV, the Sorento.

Refresh for Kia Sorento goes deeper than it looks.

Review

Good points: hugely comfortable, surprisingly accomplished to drive

Not so good: a lot of competition at this price in a small market

Test car details:

Model tested: Kia Sorento 2.2 diesel manual EX
Pricing: €37,990
Engine: 2.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: six-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, seven-seat, SUV
Rivals: Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mitsubishi Outlander
CO2emissions: 155g/km (Band C, €390 per annum)
Combined economy: 47.9mpg (5.9 litres/100km)
Top speed: 190km/h
0-100km/h: 9.7 seconds
Power: 197hp at 3,800rpm
Torque: 422Nm at 1,800- to 2,500rpm

Our view:

When Kia revealed its updated Sorento SUV in September we took a quick look, saw a mild facelift and moved onto the next press release, but now that it has arrived in Ireland it's time for a closer inspection. While the nip and tuck doesn't extend beyond the front and rear it is remarkably effective. Parked next to the previous model the new Sorento looks more modern.

The interior has been upgraded as well - and considerably so. It's much more pleasant to touch and use than before and, thanks to a reshaping of the floor (and a 10mm reduction in ride height), more spacious. Passengers in both the back rows of seats benefit most, though as ever the rear-most chairs are best reserved for children. The middle row offers generous accommodation for three adults and the rear seats are a cinch to fold out down completely to create a useful 515-litre load space.

The Sorento turns out to be surprisingly good to drive. I don't remember the previous car being all that remarkable, but the new one is. On a particularly challenging piece of road with camber and surface changes, nasty bumps and plenty of high-speed direction changes the big Kia actually managed to be fun. It's stable and dependable and the damping does a commendable job of keeping the large body and wheels in check, seemingly no matter what you throw at it. Perhaps of more importance to more buyers will be that fact that it's now quieter and more refined at a cruise than ever before. A quick scan of the original press release reveals that Kia has upgraded several aspects of the chassis, including the bushing, dampers, steering and brakes. Job well done we say.

All Sorentos sold in Ireland come with four-wheel drive, a part-time system that only sends power to the rear wheels when needed (up to 50 per cent of the engine's output) - or when the driver selects the Lock Mode. The benefit of a part-time strategy is reduced fuel consumption and emissions, and given the size of the Sorento, Band C isn't a bad place to be - though it's quickly becoming the norm for SUVs in this class.

Speaking of which, Kia is competing with some tough adversaries. The three competitors we've listed below are just as new on the scene and there really isn't much to choose between them in terms of pricing or ability. The Sorento does come with an excellent seven-year warranty and Kia offers it in two well specified trim levels - EX and Platinum.

Real alternatives:

Honda CR-V: all-new version just arrived and it's the most car-like SUV of this size there is right now - though has only five seats.

Hyundai Santa Fe: arguably the Sorento's biggest competitor, though entry-level model does not have four-wheel drive.

Mitsubishi Outlander: more efficient in its latest guise and more modern feeling too, plus it now comes with an eight-year warranty.