Kia Sorento (2015-2020) Review
Seven seats and four-wheel drive for under £30,000 with the Kia Sorento
Strengths & weaknesses
- Class-leading reliability and quality
- Smooth and comfortable
- Seven-year warranty
- Cramped rear row of seats
- More expensive models are poor value
- Only two Isofix child seat mounts
With space for seven, a huge boot (when you fold the rear seats) and four-wheel drive with trailer stability assist as standard, the Kia Sorento is four vehicles in one: mini-bus, van, off-roader and tow car.
It's a popular formula for families, and there are plenty of other seven-seat sport utility vehicles (SUVs), including the Hyundai Santa Fe, Nissan X-Trail and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace. All feature a rugged design and a high driving position but these are cars that are designed for school runs and motorway trips, rather than off-road expeditions.
Despite the competition, there's a lot going for the big Kia Sorento, particularly when it comes to value. There's a lengthy seven-year warranty, as well as air conditioning, digital radio and parking sensors across the range.
Value doesn't mean cheap: the Sorento may not quite match the Volkswagen or the slightly more expensive Land Rover Discovery Sport, but the controls are robust, the interior is covered in soft-touch materials and there are plenty of high-end options including seats that heat or cool, a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control and all-round camera.
Owners speak highly of the car: in the latest Driver Power new car satisfaction survey, the Sorento was ranked as the best SUV to own, and the second best new car in Britain for reliability.
The Sorento was updated in 2018 with a more efficient automatic gearbox, some minor styling tweaks and some additional trim options. If you're on a tight budget, going for a pre-2018 used model is still a good idea as no major changes were made to the car that first appeared in 2015.
The Sorento is a safe vehicle with the maximum five stars from Euro NCAP. There are only two sets of Isofix points - in the middle row of seats - for securing a child seat.
Visibility is good, with the driver enjoying a great view of the road. The middle row of seats can easily accommodate three adults. They get their own USB charging point, too. The rearmost row is a bit of a squeeze but passengers here have their own ventilation controls, which make things more bearable.
There’s not a lot of boot space behind that third row but you can always fold it down to create more. Fold down the middle row and you’ll be thinking you bought a van, there’s so much of it.
Fortunately, the Sorento is far from van-like on the road. It’s quiet, smooth and comfortable over most roads. Being a tall vehicle, it will lean noticeably in corners if driven with any enthusiasm. The light steering makes a doddle of low-speed manoeuvres such as parking but makes it difficult to judge precisely where the wheels are pointing at higher speeds. There’s a choice of manual or eight-speed automatic gearboxes. The latter suits the Sorento’s relaxed style but adds £2,000 to the price.
As a used car it makes a lot of sense, but in the past two years the competition has intensified and the Sorento has now been overtaken by rivals, which are even cheaper. The new Peugeot 5008 is more comfortable, arguably more stylish and comes with a flashy two-screen dashboard; Skoda's Kodiaq offers exceptional value with the nimble driving feel of a much smaller car; there's a new and improved Hyundai Santa Fe; while the Land Rover Discovery Sport is surprisingly competitive when compared with a top-specification Kia Sportage - and much more capable off road.
If you all you want is seven-seat versatility without the bulk of an SUV, then check out people carriers such as the seven-seat Kia Carens, which is likely to cost significantly less than the Sorento. Other large MPVs worth looking at are the Ford Galaxy and Citroen Grand C4 Picasso.
|7 years / 100,000 miles
|Tax (min to max)
|£500 to £800 (in first year), £140 thereafter
Best Kia Sorento for...
Best for Economy – Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi KX-1
Smaller wheels generally offer the best fuel economy, so a Kia Sorento in basic KX-1 trim with 17in wheels is more efficient than other models in the range which have larger wheels.
Best for Families – Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi KX-3 auto
At list price, this is expensive, but if you get a good deal for a KX-3 model, you'll have a great family car with a panoramic sunroof for more light in the back seats, and a powered bootlid that’s handy when your hands are full.
Best for Performance – Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi GT-Line Auto
There’s only one engine in the Sorento range, so there’s no extra power on the sporty GT-Line. It does have bigger 19in wheels that offer a little more grip, though.
One to Avoid – Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi GT-Line S
This top-of-the range Sorento wants for little. However, its £41,995 list price means you pay a £310 road tax surcharge in years two to five, on top of the new first-year diesel surcharge. Not only that but its high price puts it within touching distance of a Land Rover Discovery.
- 2015 New Kia Sorento goes on sale.
- 2018 Updated Sorento goes on sale with a new, more efficient eight-speed automatic gearbox and new GT-Line and GT-Line S trims, replacing KX-4 trim.
- 2020 A new generation of Sorento replaces the outgoing model, and introduces a plug-in hybrid variant.
Understanding Kia Sorento names
Engine 2.2 CRDi ISG
There’s only one engine available for the Kia Sorento and its size is given in litres - 2.2. The letters CRDi stand for common rail diesel injection, which describes the way the car’s fuel system works - and indicates that it’s a diesel engine. ISG stands for 'idle, stop & go': the engine switches off when the car is stopped - at traffic lights, for example - to save fuel.
The trim level indicates what equipment is fitted as standard. There are four ranging from the cheapest KX-1 to GT-Line S.
Kia Sorento Engines
2.2 CRDi ISG
There may only be one engine in the Sorento range but it’s well suited to the car. It’s got good pulling power and needs it, with the Sorento weighing in at 2 tonnes, and able to tow up to 2.5 tonnes (2 tonnes for the automatic).
Fuel consumption varies noticeably depending on the size of the wheels that you choose, but none of the models are particularly frugal.. The KX-1 version, with 17in alloy wheels returns 49.6mpg, according to official tests, and costs £500 to tax in the first yearm, but more expensive manual cars do 47.1mpg and cost £800 to tax. Choose an automatic and the official mpg rating is 43.5mpg, with an annual tax bill of £800.
0 - 60
43.5 - 49.6mpg
9.0 – 9.6s
Kia Sorento Trims
KX-1, KX-2, KX-3, GT-Line, GT-Line S
The trim levels might have unimaginative names, but at least they are easy to understand.
KX-1 is the basic trim and includes air conditioning, rear parking sensors (useful in such a big car), electric mirrors and cruise control. As with all Kia Sorento models, it has seven seats and four-wheel drive. It’s the only model not available with an automatic gearbox.
Even the very best Kia Sorento deals can be more expensive for the next level up - KX-2 sold for around £4,000 more than the KX-1 when new. It does, however, bring a raft of equipment including a 7-inch dashboard-mounted touchscreen with sat-nav, a reversing camera, leather seats which are heated in the front, and dual-zone climate control that allows both front passengers to select their desired air temperature. Self-levelling suspension is fitted, which helps keep the car level when towing.
Good deals on KX-3 cars are less common, so the cars can cost several thousands of pounds more for a panoramic sunroof, electrically-adjustable driver’s seat and an electric bootlid that opens automatically when you stand behind the car (with the key) for three seconds.
When new, GT-Line was a little cheaper than KX-3 models, but at the cost of some equipment. Its 19-inch alloy wheels make the car look more sporty than the KX-3's 18-inch alloys, too. GT-Line S added more kit to the GT-Line, including additional driver assist features, and costed upwards of £40,000.
Kia Sorento Reliability and warranty
Whatever happens with your Sorento, you’ll be protected by the longest warranty in the business. It lasts last seven years - or until it’s driven 100,000 miles if that comes sooner. If you are a high-mileage driver, then consider the Hyundai Santa Fe which has a five-year warranty with an unlimited mileage limit.
The lengthy warranty is borne out by the Sorento’s performance in the latest Driver Power 2018 customer satisfaction survey, where it was it was rated the second best new car for reliability and second best for quality. Overall, it was ranked the eighth best new car to own out of 75 best-selling models.
Used Kia Sorento
Kia’s excellent warranty remains with the vehicle when it’s sold, so if you’re buying a three-year-old model, then it will still be covered for four years - as long as the car doesn’t cover more than 100,000 miles.
Kia’s reputation hasn’t yet caught up with the quality of its cars, and so used car buyers are not yet willing to pay as much as they would for a second-hand Land Rover, for example.
The former top-of-the-range spec KX-4 was discontinued in 2018 to coincide with a minor update. This means that there are well-specified bargains out there if you don't mind having an earlier car.