Kia wants to take on the best of the SUV market with its third-generation Sorento, and a big lift in quality and driving refinement means it's off to a good start
This is the third-generation model of Kia’s big Sorento SUV. It’s heading for UK early next year, with a 2.2-litre diesel engine under the bonnet, all-wheel drive and seven-seats.The Mk3 Sorento is effectively all-new, with a new, stiffer, body shell, updated running gear and transmission and a completely fresh interior. The car is 95mm longer, measuring 4.78m long, 5mm wider and has been reduced height by 15mm. The ride height has been dropped by 20mm and the driver’s hip-point is 38mm lower, making getting in and out much easier for a wider range of drivers.Kia says that even thought the roof is lower, lower seat cushions mean more headroom for all three rows of passengers, and there’s an increase in legroom. With the third row of seats folded, the boot capacity is up from a useful 515-litres to a significant 615-litres.Kia engineers say this new bodyshell is ‘significantly’ stronger. 53 per cent of the structure is made up from ultra-high-strength steels (compared to 24 per cent on the outgoing model). 10 per cent of the structure – mostly in the A- and B-Pillars – is made from ultra-strong hot-stamped high tensile steel. ‘Stronger’ steel has been used around the wheel arches, tailgate and rear wheel surrounds to further stiffen this big body shell. All in all the new Sorento shell is 14 per cent stiffer than the old model.In parallel, there’s been a concerted effort on improving refinement, with tweaks including 30 percent thicker dashboard soundproofing and larger engine and transmission mounts. The 2.2-litre engine (set to be the only one sold in the UK) has seen power edged up from 194bhp to 197bhp and torque is up very slightly. Early figures suggest that fuel economy is marginally down, probably a consequence of the new motors meeting Euro 6 pollution standards.Under the skin, the Sorento rolls on the same MacPherson strut and independent rear suspension. A bigger rear subframe bushes and vertically mounted shock absorbers are designed to improve body control.