LOTS of SUVs offer seven seats but often only five are of any real use.
Space in the third row can be so tight it’s room for a couple of young children so how good to find a car where seven means seven.
Take a peak in the back of a Kia Sorento if you don’t believe me. You can’t hide away in the back row here, the seats are full size, there is room for a six footer, and you do not have to be a contortionist to get to them. Space can be varied because the split second row seats are on runners, and as if to emphasise these are not the cheap seats the two in the back get their own fan controlled air conditioning.
Sorento used to be known as a bargain seven seater until all that changed three years ago with the new model. It grew in length, but more significantly, grew in quality to claim a place in the premier league.
The last decade has seen a monumental shift in the brand’s image. With the Kia name firmly established the company set about moving up the ladder launching cars that looked good inside and out.
And now we have a Kia with a price tag of more than 40 grand – £41,995 to be precise. That is what you will pay for the top of the range Sorento GT-Line S. The big SUV, it really is a humungous size, has been freshened up with the GT-Line replacing the KX-4, the intention to add a sporty twist.
The goal is to join the cream of the crop – Land Rover Discovery Sport, Skoda Kodiaq, Volkswagen Touareg and the like – and Sorento has done it. Forty grand is not stupid money for a Kia, it is a wise choice and its sales show most buyers are prepared to shell out that sort of money for top of the range Sorentos.
The 2015 Sorento shot up in price because it was bigger and better all round and this latest wash and brush up signals another reminder to its rivals that it’s the car to beat. Apart from some subtle cosmetic body surgery the headline news is an eight speed automatic gearbox which brings a little more economy and shaves a few grams off the exhaust emissions.
It dovetails nicely with the 2.2 litre turbo diesel that pumps out nigh on 200bhp, just the job for pulling a big caravan, towing capacity is 2500kg, with a useful 100kg towball limit. That should be enough to mount a bike carrier on a caravan A frame but with so much length with all the back seats down two bikes can easily be stowed in the car.
Even with the second row seats in place, which is the more likely scenario for this family holdall, there is still a sizeable area for luggage.
Kia is obviously keen to promote Sorento’s towing capabilities fitting trailer stability assist which applies front braking to whatever side might be losing control. Trust me, that gives peace of mind particularly when overtaking artics on a motorway in a crosswind. And there is on demand all wheel drive for those wet camp site fields.
I averaged 24-27mpg towing which was acceptable given the Sorento’s lump of power but not quite as good as the less powerful Skodia Kodiaq TDI. Until this Sorento turned up the Kodiaq was my top SUV tow car but even though the Czech is a sharper, more rewarding drive the Kia package tops it.
You don’t have to pay £42 grand, the base Sorento is £29,000, but when you tot up what you get higher up the ladder it is hard to ignore. My KX-3, one level below GT Line, has more kit than an England soccer squad, let alone outgunning its rivals. Add to that a real feeling of quality right through the cabin and you have a big car that is cracking quality and value.
If that £42k is still hard to swallow think of it as six grand a seat. That will make you feel better!
Sorento KX-3 AWD
2.2 CRDI 8sp auto; 197bhp
0-60mph 9.1secs; 127mph
First year road tax £500
Insurance group 27