Road tests

New Kia Sorento HEV 2020 review

The new Kia Sorento HEV combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor for 227bhp, but is it the pick of the range?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Verdict

When it comes to image, technology and space, the Sorento has really upped its game. The new hybrid powertrain is punchy and efficient and will certainly appeal to those who don't want a diesel, while few customers will be left wanting for an SUV with a greater degree of practicality. Question marks remain over the Sorento’s ride quality, but on the whole Kia has delivered another impressive family SUV. 

If there’s a car that perfectly demonstrates Kia’s transformation from budget brand to premium player, it’s the Sorento. What started as a Mercedes ML-mimicking SUV in 2002 has evolved over the years to become a genuine alternative to the likes of the Volvo XC90 and Land Rover Discovery.

This fourth-generation model has now arrived in the UK, packed with cutting edge tech, a sharp new look and a range of hybrid powertrains. But in the process of shaking off its budget-conscious image, Kia has also left behind the associated pricing - the latest Sorento starts from £38,845. That’s a good chunk less than its upmarket rivals, but considerably more than the likes of a Skoda Kodiaq or SEAT Tarraco.

That entry-level Sorento gets you the car we’re driving here, in base spec ‘2’ trim and powered by an all-new 1.6-litre hybrid powertrain. It’s still pretty well kitted out, with an eight-inch infotainment system, heated seats and steering wheel, LED headlamps, 17-inch alloys and seven seats as standard. The biggest giveaway that you’re sitting in the entry-level model is the black cloth upholstery.

Most buyers are likely to step up to mid-spec ‘3’ trim, which adds £3,900 to the price. It comes with larger 19-inch alloy wheels, a more impressive 10.25-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a full leather interior (with electric adjustment in the front and heating front and rear), ambient lighting, wireless phone charging plus an electric tailgate. It’s probably the one to go for.

The Sorento is the first recipient of Kia’s new 1.6-litre hybrid powertrain. It comprises a turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, a small 1.49kWh battery and an electric motor, which combine to develop 227bhp and 350Nm of torque. It’s four-wheel drive as standard and drives through a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Performance is pretty strong on the move; the electric motor giving the two tonne Sorento plenty of zip from a standing start. Once up and running the engine takes over, kicking in smoothly enough and remaining hushed at low speeds; on part throttle it’ll even run in EV mode for short distances, too. But ask for a squirt of acceleration and the engine becomes rather coarse at the top end of the rev range. It’s certainly quick enough for a large family SUV of this size though, hitting 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds. 

One thing to be aware of is towing capacity - or lack of it; the Sorento hybrid can tow up to 1,650kg, while the more torque-rich 2.2-litre diesel can pull up to a maximum load of 2,500kg. 

Even on the smallest 17-inch wheels, the Sorento’s ride is too firm for a seven-seat family SUV. You wouldn’t call it uncomfortable, but over broken surfaces, the type of which the UK’s road network is littered with, the Sorento fidgets about and doesn’t absorb bumps as well as it should. Perhaps the firmer suspension setup is a way of helping contain the Sorento’s hefty kerbweight, but it lacks the suppleness and more laid back feel you get from a Skoda Kodiaq or Land Rover Discovery. 

One positive to come out of the Sorento’s firmer setup is that it does handle and corner with plenty of stability and surefootedness. The steering is quick and direct and it resists roll surprisingly well considering its size. However, we can’t help but think potential customers - and passengers on-board - would rather there be a greater degree of comfort than handling prowess. 

The Sorento remains an enormously practical SUV, however. It’s a seven-seater as standard, each of those seats coming with its own USB charging port and cup holder. There’s enough space in the middle row for three adults to sit in total comfort thanks to the generous knee room, while the third row of seats aren’t just a token gesture - you can even get adults back there. The middle row slides forwards to create enough space in the back without comprising knee room for those in the second row too much. Not many rivals can do that. 

And when you’re not carrying seven passengers the 813-litre boot will swallow everything a family can throw at it. Drop the middle row and that figure rises to 1,996 litres.

Model:Kia Sorento 1.6 T-GDi HEV
Price:£38,845
Engine:1.6-litre 4cyl petrol electric 
Transmission:Six-speed auto, four-wheel drive 
Power/torque:227bhp/350Nm
0-62mph:8.7 seconds
Top speed:119mph
Economy/CO2:40.9mpg/158g/km
On sale:Now

Most Popular

New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle
Volkswagen T7 Multivan - front
Volkswagen Caravelle

New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle

The Volkswagen T7 Multivan MPV switches to the MQB platform and adds plug-in hybrid technology
10 Jun 2021
LEC launches affordable EV conversion for classic Mini
LEC MINI Electric
MINI

LEC launches affordable EV conversion for classic Mini

The conversion sees the Mini’s A-Series engine replaced with a dinky electric motor and a 20kWh battery for a range of 70 miles in the city
10 Jun 2021
New Toyota Land Cruiser 300 revealed with six-cylinder petrol and diesel power
Toyota Land Cruiser - front
Toyota Land Cruiser

New Toyota Land Cruiser 300 revealed with six-cylinder petrol and diesel power

Six-cylinder engine line-up and clever new suspension tech for the new large Toyota Land Cruiser, but it’s not destined for the UK
9 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time
Vauxhall Astra teaser 1
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time

The new Vauxhall Astra will get electrified powertrains and a more premium image
8 Jun 2021
New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp
Tesla Model S facelift - front
Tesla Model S

New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp

Range-topping version of the Tesla Model S officially unveiled, with a sprint time of 0-60mph in less than two seconds
10 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'
Gearknob
Opinion

‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'

Want to drive a manual car? You need to take your test in a manual car. So what happens once all driving-school cars are automatic EVs?
8 Jun 2021
New Genesis G80 2021 review
Genesis G80
Genesis G80

New Genesis G80 2021 review

Is the new Genesis G80 a worthy competitor in the executive saloon segment?
9 Jun 2021
Audi updates line-up for 2022 with new tech and trim features
Audi S5
Audi

Audi updates line-up for 2022 with new tech and trim features

Almost every car in Audi’s line-up has received a tweak, with major updates including Amazon Alexa integration and a Sonos stereo
11 Jun 2021
New Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet 2021 review
Mercedes E 300 Cabriolet - front
Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet

New Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet 2021 review

The soft-top Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet gets the same updates as the saloon and estate variants
10 Jun 2021
'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'
Car manufacturing
Opinion

'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'

Steve Fowler points out the fresh issues facing global car manufacturing
9 Jun 2021
New 2021 BMW X4 facelift arrives with new look inside and out
BMW X4 - front tracking
BMW X4

New 2021 BMW X4 facelift arrives with new look inside and out

The updated BMW X4 line-up gets a new look and now comes with hot petrol and diesel options
8 Jun 2021
New 2021 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe breaks cover
BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe - front
BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

New 2021 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe breaks cover

The new second-generation BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe adds four-door coupe style to the 4 Series range
8 Jun 2021
New Vauxhall Grandland SUV unveiled with fresh design and tech boost
Vauxhall Grandland - front action
Vauxhall Grandland X

New Vauxhall Grandland SUV unveiled with fresh design and tech boost

The heavily facelifted Vauxhall Grandland family SUV gets Visor design cues and plug-in hybrid power
8 Jun 2021