Kia Sorento AWD

Kia Sorento 3 lr
Kia Sorento AWD
 
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By Tim Saunders

What’s the best way of transporting six people in comfort?

The Kia Sorento, of course.

A road trip to the west of France puts the Kia through its paces. It clocks up over 1,500 miles on a variety of terrains while carrying six occupants including my wife’s parents.

When six people want to go travelling there are only a small number of vehicles that will satisfy this need and fewer still that provide adequate room for everyone.

But the Kia scores highly not least because it doesn’t actually look that large and cumbersome from the outside. It’s a bit of a tardis because there’s plenty of room inside for four adults and two children. And it would even carry another passenger if necessary without compromise.

With our two daughters, Harriett (3) and Heidi (1) in the boot, there is little space left for luggage. That’s where the Thule roof box comes into its own because even though we opt for the smaller Touring 100 model it surprisingly fits our pushchair and three sizeable bags, two of which are Thule Chasm duffel bags. That roof box in itself is deceptive. I have never fitted one until now and confess to being a little confused by the instructions so much so that after successfully fitting the roofbars I venture to my local branch of Halfords where expert fitter Colin happily shows me how to fit the roofbox. It’s actually very simple as you can see in the videos at testdrives.biz. While driving with a roofbox it is advisable not to exceed 83mph (135kph).

The Kia will travel almost 500 miles on a single tank of diesel and that’s with the roof box fitted; the Sorento’s economy setting squeezes as much as possible out of the fuel. The model tested has an automatic gearbox and cruise control so continental touring is easy. Surprisingly, it’s easy to park too; I squeeze into a very tight spot by the roadside in Melle, as onlookers watch with bated breath.

Probably 350 miles into the journey from Cherbourg to Crezieres my neck starts aching, suggesting to me that the driver’s seat could be more supportive. Admittedly, I am a temperamental customer but there are better car seats. However, there are no complaints from my fellow travellers and the black leather interior is hardwearing. Far from being a slow vehicle the 2.2-litre diesel is gutsy, if required. When we realise that we’re not going to get to our destination at the time we had hoped we start travelling with a bit of oomph and it’s a real joy. There are some great overtaking opportunities on the quiet roads and the ride height of the Sorento really helps the driver to see far ahead to overtake in absolute safety. When braking at speed it is not as quick to slow down because of its height and weight but still it is impressive.

The sat nav proves a great resource during our trip and at first I do not understand why it refuses to take us on toll roads. When an alternative route is provided by our hosts that sees us travelling through three tolls at a cost of 40 euros, I understand. The toll roads in France really do seem expensive these days especially when considering that gazole (diesel) costs 1.29 euros per litre meaning that the Kia can be filled up from empty for around 60 euros. Okay the toll roads might knock off a couple of hours from the route but if you’ve got that time to spend it’s actually a cheaper more enjoyable alternative to drive through the towns and to stop off and explore.

Needless to say the Kia becomes a great friend over the course of the trip. The children love it in the back and especially enjoy being able to control their own air vents. There are also controls at the front for operating the front and rear air conditioning. The camera for reversing that appears in the centre console is also helpful. Power folding wing mirrors are a neat touch especially useful for roadside parking. The rear privacy glass is generally much appreciated although the UK Border Agency doesn’t approve at passport control because they can’t see all the occupants! It becomes frustrating that the Kia does not let me open another door or the boot if I leave the key in the ignition; this happens a number of times on the holiday and I have to unlock the doors before I exit.

Equally at home on the motorway or pottering around the town it shines when off-roading, as you can see in the videos at testdrives.biz.

Facts at a glance

2.2CRDi AWD

New price range: £26,700 - £36,505

0-60mph: 9.4secs

Top speed: 118mph

Power: 194bhp

Economy: 35mpg

Road tax: £285

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