Kia Sorento review - Interior, design and technology
A lot of standard kit and a simple control interface impress, but some material quality could be better
The Sorento is your typical bluff-fronted family SUV in shape, but Kia’s intention to continue its push upmarket is evidenced in some assured design touches. The grille and lights merge to form a distinctive band across the nose, and at the rear the window line and roof line part company in that familiar trick to soften the boxy appearance. Tall tailights seem to add to the impression of height at the rear, and the deeply sculpted lines of the tailgate and lower bumper add extra road presence. It does little that’s special or unusual in the large-SUV segment, but the Sorento is a handsome car nonetheless.
Inside, the positive impression continues, particularly if you haven’t kept track of Kia’s swift improvement in the perceived quality stakes in recent years. The quality of the plastics is a let-down in places, particularly the textured finish applied to the passenger side of the dash and the doors, and the piano-black finishes on certain surfaces may also be susceptible to scratches, but generally the cabin looks good. The design is also more adventurous than rivals like the X-Trail’s.
There isn’t the classy minimalist approach that some brands strive for – there are physical buttons for the major controls and no covers for the ample cubbies in the centre console – but the Sorento is more user friendly as a result.
Car group tests
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Used car tests
Right now the Sorento is offered in just one trim level called Edition, but standard kit is more generous than ever. Every new Sorento comes with LED headlights, 19-inch wheels, rear privacy glass, leather upholstery, remote smart park assist, blind-spot cameras, tilt/sliding panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, 360-degree parking cameras, head-up display, powered tailgate, 10.25-inch central touchscreen and a digital driver's display. That does mean it's expensive though, starting at close to £50,000.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
Kia's latest infotainment technology is slick and easy to use, aided by the mix of touchscreen controls and physical dials in the Sorento. The menus are logical, with the main functions easily accessible through a single menu page. Loading times are reasonable, but confirming a route on the navigation system includes what seem like a couple of redundant button presses.
At 10.25 inches, the central touchscreen found in every new Sorento isn't quite as large as a Nissan X-Trail’s display, but because the panel spreads so far across the dashboard – and the fact that it’s set relatively high and far back – we found reaching the touch-sensitive shortcut keys at the far end of the display can be quite a stretch.
The digital driver’s display presents its information clearly, and it’s through here that you can adjust the driver-assist systems, and delve into the trip computer functions in greater detail. Meanwhile, the ultra-widescreen touchscreen does makes the already dated LCD display for the heating and ventilation controls below look even more out of place. At least Kia has stuck to a separate panel with actual buttons for the ventilation system, unlike some rivals; this makes it that much easier to tweak the temperature quickly.
The Sorento Edition also comes with UVO Connect telematic services that add live traffic information, weather and parking information into the mix. Using the phone app, it lets you send routes to the car in advance of your journey, too. The infotainment system can pair two phones at the same time via Bluetooth, so one could be playing music while the other makes a call. Of course, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity are standard too.
There are loads of USB chargers with two in the front, three more in the middle row and a further pair in the boot/third-row area – there’s basically one for each occupant, while a wireless charging mat in the front means someone can even bring a second device with them.
The Edition models also get a head-up display and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound stereo.If you find a secondhand example of the recently discontinued entry-level 2 models, these only feature an eight-inch central display with no sat-nav, but still have the digital dials, and many owners will simply pair their smartphones for navigation using the built-in CarPlay or Android Auto.
In this review
- 1Kia Sorento reviewThe Kia Sorento is a top-class family SUV with plenty of kit and space, although it's expensive to buy
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Sorento serves up a tidy driving experience through a strong and varied engine range, but the ride is on the firm side
- 3MPG, CO2 and running costsEfficiency is a real strong point for the Sorento, with all the powertrains turning in strong numbers. You just need to pick the right one for your needs
- 4Interior, design and technology - currently readingA lot of standard kit and a simple control interface impress, but some material quality could be better
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceLots of space and features focused on everyday usability make the Sorento a fine family car option
- 6Reliability and safetyThe level of standard safety equipment is as good as you’ll find in the sector, while Kia’s seven-year warranty is a further draw