In-depth reviews

Kia Sorento review - Interior, design and technology

A lot of standard kit and a simple control interface impress, but materials 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 tail-lights 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. 

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, but it generally looks good. There isn’t the classy minimalist approach that some rivals 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.

The equipment levels are very good for the price, and unless you’re dead-set on leather seats the entry-level 2-specification cars have all the essentials plus quite a bit more. There’s Kia’s Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go that’s a godsend in a motorway traffic jam, plus heated seats and a heated steering wheel.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment 

The Kia infotainment technology is simple to use, aided by the mix of touchscreen controls and physical dials. The entry-level 2 cars only get 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. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are built in.

The 10.25-inch screen on the higher-spec cars is more impressive, and makes the 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. It’s the same story with the traditional dial for the infotainment volume, which is still the best solution. The larger screen 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. 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. At the top of the range, the 4-specification models get a head-up display and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound stereo.

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