Kia Sorento (2015-2017)

By Jonathan Crouch

Models Covered 5DR SUV (2.2 DIESEL [KX-1, KX-2, KX-3, KX-4])


This vastly improved third generation version of Kia’s Sorento proved to be efficient, smart and more spacious for families seeking practical, seven-seat all-wheel drive transport. More interesting than an MPV and roomier than a CR-V or RAV4-style soft roader, you can see why it might appeal as a used buy in the SUV D segment.

The History

Let’s say you want a decently sized SUV for family duties. A compact RAV4-style soft roader is too small. A bigger full-sized Discovery or Land Cruiser-class model too large and expensive. No, potentially what you want is something like this, Kia’s third generation Sorento.

This car, along with its Hyundai Santa Fe cousin, has long offered this kind of appealing compromise for family SUV buyers in search of spacious, affordable seven-seat versatility. Traditionally, its buying proposition has always been that for not much more than RAV4 or CR-V money, you could get three rows of seats, extra capability and better value for money. Job done.

Except that it wasn’t. Even in its more polished second generation guise, the Sorento felt a touch utilitarian. And for longer journeys, the truth was that it could only really seat seven if the last two members of your party were of junior school age. In developing the MK3 version then, Kia’s clear objectives were to make this car a little larger, as well as making it a little more up-market. If it could do that without dramatically affecting this model’s biggest selling point, its value pricing proposition, then opportunities for sales growth looked certain.

That’s exactly what this third generation Sorento design claimed to deliver. A model launched in the Spring of 2015 that was supposed to provide nearly everything you’d get from a large-segment European-badged SUV rival costing over 50% more. And a car that marked a further stage forward in Kia’s intended transformation from value brand to premium quality car maker. Hence the fresh technology, the extra efficiency and the greater depth of engineering, refinement and quality. The MK3 model sold in its original form until early 2018, when it was then replaced by an updated model featuring updated safety technology, a revised trim structure and a new 8-speed auto gearbox. It’s the original pre-facelift version of this third generation design though, that we look at here.

What To Look For

Most MK3 Sorento owners we came across in our survey were very happy with their cars, but inevitably, there were a few issues. The worst one we came across was a rogue example that had an engine that stopped on the move for no apparent reason and sometimes suddenly reduced its power when overtaking. Another owner had a steering rack failure. And another had to get his car’s LG Central Control unit replaced. Early on in this design’s model life, there was a factory recall for faulty door handles; make sure that the original owner of the car you’re looking at had this update seen to; we came across one owner still struggling with an offside door handle.

Otherwise, the only issues were minor ones – things like the sat nav mapping not being updated for example; check out your local newly-added roads on your test drive. It’s extremely unlikely that he Sorento you’re looking at will have been seriously used off road (particularly if it has a higher-spec trim level), but just in case, check the underside of the car for dents and scrapes. It’s more likely that you’ll find scratches on the alloy wheels caused through ham-fisted parking. Check out the rear two seating rows for scratches caused by unruly children. And of course, insist on a fully stamped-up service history.

On The Road

By its own admission, Kia has never overly prioritised rewarding driving dynamics when it comes to this, its flagship Sorento model. Typical customers, the brand has always pointed out, generally enter the family SUV segment looking for a robust, comfortable and refined driving experience rather than a memorable one. Times are changing though and by the time of this MK3 model’s launch in 2015, the company had decided that it wanted to prove itself the equal of European competitors – which meant upping its game when it comes to ride and handling.

Better instead to relax and waft happily along on the wave of torque delivered by the 197bhp 2.2-litre CRDi diesel engine, slightly uprated for this MK3 model and the only unit on offer to MK3 model Sorento buyers in this country. Pulling power is certainly in plentiful supply, the 441Nm on offer here easing you from rest to 62mph in around 9s on the way to an academic maximum of 124mph. Also impressive is the much improved refinement of this third generation model, something Kia thinks is indicative of premium quality. Hence that extra body rigidity, the sleeker shape and vast swathes of aerodynamic shielding beneath the car, these measures together cutting noise levels by around 6%. That still isn’t quite enough for full Executive segment silence – the large tyres and door mirrors see to that – but it delivers a big improvement.

And off road ability? Well, the approach and departure angles of this MK3 Sorento are a little down on those of the previous model and ground clearance remains modest at 185mm. This is because the old second generation Sorento’s ‘Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system’ was replaced for this MK3 design by a much better Dynamax set-up that actually is quite intelligent. This Kia still doesn’t run in 4x4 form all the time (that wouldn’t be very efficient). It is though, courtesy of the Dynamax system, readier to cope when conditions turn nasty. So where previously, this car’s 4WD system clicked in only when you were already losing grip, the Dynamax set-up is intuitive enough to anticipate when all-wheel drive will be needed and provide the extra traction ahead of time. Which will probably be all you’ll need to keep mobile in the next snowy snap or to take on the nearest forest trail.


In the SUV ‘D’-segment, it’s certainly true that there are trendier, more dynamic choices you could make than this MK3 Sorento model. There are few better all-round options though. For all kinds of reasons, this is very much a car you’d like – rather than merely one that would be very handy to have. If that kind of proposition’s new to you when considering the Kia brand, pleasant surprises await here.