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[Behind the Wheel] New Sorento’s spaciousness threatens other family SUVs

Kia Motors’s the fourth generation Sorento Kia Motors
Kia Motors’s the fourth generation Sorento Kia Motors
Kia Motors’ mid-sized sports utility vehicle Sorento means a lot to the automaker, considering that its SUV lineup ranging from Niro to Mohave has begun to receive attention with popularity of Sorento.

The first Sorento was launched in 2002, with the third generation of the car released in 2014. Six years later, an all-new Sorento was unveiled on March 17.

The Korea Herald had the chance to test drive the fourth-generation Sorento on March 23 on a 25 kilometer route from Yeouido in Seoul to Ilsan in Gyeonggi Province, which included highways and curvy roads.

What’s unique about the latest Sorento is the new size of the vehicle’s platform, which has been largely inspired by Kia’s other three-row SUV, the Telluride. The Kia Telluride is yet to launch in Korea, despite its high popularity overseas for its bold, boxy design.

The fourth generation Sorento’s exterior has become a lot bolder, moving away from its curvy image toward straight, sharp lines with a “tiger nose” radiator grille and connected head lamps. 

Kia Motors’s the fourth generation Sorento Kia Motors
Kia Motors’s the fourth generation Sorento Kia Motors

The new Sorento offers four different type of driving performance modes: comfort, eco, sports or smart mode. The sports mode fit the Sorento the most when accelerating, as it pulled the speed up smoothly despite being a 1,755-kilogram SUV.

The road noise and engine sound were relatively well controlled, keeping the interior silent and increasing the driving comfort. When speeding up to 130 kilometers per hour on the highway, it was then that the wind noise became clearly audible from the driver’s seat.

Like other Hyundai and Kia cars, Sorento’s semi-autonomous driving function was useful.

The driver assist mode is synced with the navigation, so it can automatically calculate the speed limit on the road and control when to speed up and slow down, on its own. The autonomous-driving’s handling was smooth even on curvy roads. But the hands still had to be on the steering wheel, or a beeping sound and the signs popped up on the dashboard for driver’s safety.

On top of high-tech features, the new Sorento’s spacious rear area was the most impressive, making it a good option for a family car.

Compared to the previous model, the height and the wheelbase of the fourth generation Sorento has been stretched by a relatively modest 10 millimeters and 35 millimeters. But by using the new platform, the interior has become more spacious than rival models like Santa Fe and Renault Samsung’s QM6.

The second row offers plenty of legroom while the third row could also fit two tall adults leaving about a hand span of headroom. The third row can be folded to make the trunk roomier to load stuff.

Having large rear room area means it can appeal to families with young children.

Figures show that the new Sorento is received well by millennial fathers.

According to Kia Motors, during the preorder period from Feb. 20 to March 16, 58.6 percent of orders out of 26,368 units were made by fathers in their 30s and 40s.

By Kim Da-sol (

The Korea Herald ratings

Design: 4 stars
Fuel economy: 3 stars
Safety: 4 stars
Price: 4 stars

Overall: 15/20