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Driven: 2021 Kia Sorento '3' 2.2 Diesel. Image by Kia.

Driven: 2021 Kia Sorento '3' 2.2 Diesel
Oil-burning load-lugger is the pick of the Sorento range.


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2021 Kia Sorento '3' 2.2 CRDi DCT AWD

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With diesel rapidly becoming socially unacceptable, perhaps itís no surprise that Kia decided to launch its new Sorento with a selection of petrol hybrid powertrains. But that decision brought its own problems. With so many motorists turning to the Sorento as a reasonably priced tow car, the hybrid systems simply werenít robust enough for the job, so a diesel version became a necessity. Kia has introduced it slightly grudgingly, with diesel buyers getting just one choice of trim level, but we hit the road to find out whether thatís a sacrifice worth making.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Kia Sorento Ď3í 2.2 CRDi DCT AWD
Pricing: From £43,020
Engine: 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, seven-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 176g/km
Combined economy: 42.2mpg
Top speed: 127mph
0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
Power: 202hp
Torque: 440Nm
Boot space: 615 - 2,011 litres

What's this?

The Sorento has never exactly been small, but this latest one seems bigger than before Ė or at least thatís the impression we get. Where the previous-generation car was rounded and soft around the edges, the latest version feels sharper and more muscular than its predecessor, and itís more modern as a result.

Telling the difference between the diesel and hybrid versions of the Sorento isnít easy, but part of the deduction comes from the trim level. Kia is only offering the diesel engine in conjunction with the Ď3í trim level, which comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, and black leather upholstery, but even that isnít foolproof. You can get a hybrid Sorento with the same specification.

Every version of the Sorento is built to look chunky and solid, and the result is a car that looks and feels enormous. But thatís because it is. At 4.8 metres long, the Sorento is 10cm longer than a Skoda Kodiaq and just 5cm shorter than a Volkswagen Touareg. Even a Range Rover Sport is only 7cm longer. This is a big vehicle.

Inside, the Sorento gets a modern cabin thatís in keeping with the exterior design, featuring big screens, massive air vents and a modern centre console with a kind of rotating gear selector. Thanks largely to the big touchscreen and the enormous digital instrument display, it all feels very modern, and the technology is pretty impressive.

The latest-generation Kia touchscreen has found its way into the Sorento, and itís now one of the best in the business, as long as you discount the systems made by premium brands such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW. With Volkswagenís latest on-board tech proving hit-and-miss and Peugeot still wrestling with sub-par touchscreen systems, the Kia screen is coming to the fore. Sure, it has some foibles in the menus and the navigation display feels a bit dated, but theyíre small gripes in what is largely a very intuitive and modern system.

The digital instrument display is great, too, and Kia has clearly raided sister firm Hyundaiís tech cellar to pinch the blind-spot cameras that pop up whenever you indicate. At first, they feel a bit odd and even irritating, but they certainly give you much better visibility. Theyíre the sort of thing you donít think about until they stop you doing something silly, such as cutting up an unsuspecting cyclist.

And it isnít just the tech that impresses. As weíve come to expect from Kia, build quality is generally very good, with only a handful of questionable plastics to let the side down. For the most part, everything feels really solid and robust while still being relatively tactile, and itís all bolted together in a reassuring sort of way. Perhaps it doesnít feel as premium as a Volkswagen Touareg or even the Hyundai Santa Fe with which it shares so much, but itís still a well-judged cabin that should stand up well to family life.

Itís as spacious as it looks, too, with bags of room for four adults Ė even if they all measure over six feet in height. Hidden under the boot floor are two more seats, which can just about take smaller adults on short journeys, but were really made for kids. It makes the Sorento a proper family bus, with space for all the children and their mates. But if you leave the rearmost seats folded away, you get a massive 615-litre boot, which will be more than enough for most customers.

As will the equipment offered by this mid-range trim level. With leather upholstery, satellite navigation and heated seats in the front and rear, it doesnít want for much at all. The big screens, leather upholstery and even ventilated front seats are all thrown in for the £43,020 asking price. If you want more, thereís a handful of options to choose from, but the Ď3í is really all the Sorento you need, and some.

How does it drive?

The Sorento recipe has long been the same: soft suspension, sensible amounts of grunt and a spacious interior. That means you canít expect the big Kia to be spectacular when it encounters a corner, but itís great on a long drive. Soft springs mean it soaks up the bumps nicely, and big seats make it perfect for settling in on a motorway slog. Admittedly, the ride could be a little softer around town, but the Kia is generally a comfy thing in which to waft about.

Thatís helped by the engine, which is perfect for long trips. With 202hp it isnít the most powerful option in the Sorento stable, but it pulls well and itís economical on longer drives. Yes, the plug-in hybrid might claim to be capable of three-figure economy, but only if you stick to mostly short journeys. Once you broaden your horizons, itís essentially a petrol engine with a big, heavy battery in the boot. Nope, for longer trips in big 4x4s, diesel power is still king, and the Sorento allows you to enjoy seeing around 40mpg on the trip computer. For a big seven-seater, that isnít too bad.

The engine also comes to the fore if you want to tow, providing greater pulling power than its stablemates thanks to 440Nm of torque. That means you can pull a braked trailer weighing up to 2.5 tonnes Ė something the hybrid will struggle with. In fact, Kia more or less admits this version of the Sorento is essentially on sale because customers who tow demand it. Hence the relatively generous, but not excessively priced trim level.

Without a trailer hitched up, performance is perfectly adequate, but it isnít about to set your hair on fire. The 202hp and 440Nm are sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox and an all-wheel-drive system, getting the big lump from 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 127mph. But the Sorento isnít for drag racing. The performance will be more than enough for most customers, and thereís plenty of off-road capability, too. Ground clearance is good and thereís a selection of off-road driving modes to get the most from the all-wheel-drive and traction control systems.

Where the Sorento will not shine, however, is when itís put through its paces on a winding country road. The soft suspension might be pleasant on the motorway, but it means body control is limited and the car leans quite a lot in the corners. The steering is a bit light, too, so it doesnít instill much confidence, even though thereís plenty of grip on offer. But with that big body wallowing from side to side, it doesnít do to make too much use of that grip Ė you might make your passengers sick.


Diesel power is undoubtedly the best choice for the Sorento. Although hybrid versions might be more powerful, they feel as though they need to work harder to make decent progress, and that spoils any refinement advantage they would otherwise have. The diesel, on the other hand, feels more relaxed and more effortless, even if it is a little noisier at low speeds. If you want to take the Sorento off-road or tow a trailer, this is the version to choose.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3 3 3 3 3 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain

James Fossdyke - 11 May 2022    - Kia road tests
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2021 Kia Sorento '3' 2.2 CRDi AWD. Image by Kia.2021 Kia Sorento '3' 2.2 CRDi AWD. Image by Kia.2021 Kia Sorento '3' 2.2 CRDi AWD. Image by Kia.2021 Kia Sorento '3' 2.2 CRDi AWD. Image by Kia.2021 Kia Sorento '3' 2.2 CRDi AWD. Image by Kia.

2021 Kia Sorento '3' 2.2 CRDi AWD. Image by Kia.2021 Kia Sorento '3' 2.2 CRDi AWD. Image by Kia.2021 Kia Sorento '3' 2.2 CRDi AWD. Image by Kia.    


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