David Bonnici finds out the hype around the latest Kia Sorento is warranted.

I wonder when Kia knew it was on the money with the new Sorento?

The Korean-maker’s SUVs were once timid affairs, with lacklustre looks that dated as soon as they rolled off the production line.

The past several years have seen great improvement in the Kia range, which has become a force to be reckoned with in the cut-throat SUV market. With the Sorento, Kia has taken the improvement up another notch and this has been recognised with good sales and a swag of awards.

The latest Sorento is bigger than previous models and feels nice and solid on the road but is by no means a truck. It has nice sweeping lines more reminiscent of the European SUVs than its direct competitors from Japan.

2015 Kia Sorento Platinum

I drove the top-spec Platinum model, which includes extras such as leather-appointed seats and panoramic sunroof.

Inside

The driver is well catered for with a 10-way electronic multi-adjustment seat and electric steering wheel adjustment with two memory settings.

Space is good and there’s plenty of storage for odds and sods. It even has heating for the wood-look steering wheel, which I didn’t get to test because of the mild weather. I’m thinking a steering wheel cooler would be more beneficial for Australian conditions.

Entertainment and comms are displayed on a seven-inch screen which does the business well.

This comes with a 10-speaker sound system with amplifier that sounds the business. The seven-seater provides plenty of comfort in the middle row, with heaps of leg and headroom and nifty little sunscreens you can slide over the back door windows.

2015 Kia Sorento Platinum

The two rear-most seats, which fold up from the floor of the large rear cargo area, provide relative comfort for two adults so shouldn’t trouble children at all. I drove the test vehicle to Hanging Rock with six adult passengers and the two sitting down the back reckoned they were pretty comfortable.

The drive

Everyone noticed how smooth and quiet the Sorento was as we drove up the Calder Highway.

The suspension is firm, tuned for Australian conditions and body roll is remarkably subtle for such a car.

It’s built for comfort. But even with seven adults weighting it down it had no issues with performance, thanks to the 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that provides a nice balance between power and economy – I averaged 8.1 litres/100 kilometres during the week I had it, which is good for a car this size.

2015 Kia Sorento Platinum

Lower spec models have a 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine with the diesel turbo as an option costing an extra $3500.

The Platinum is replete with active safety features including all-wheel drive, active cruise control, blind spot detection, hill-start assist, emergency stop signal, reverse camera, rear cross traffic control.

This is a hell of a lot of car for about $61,000 drive away, and compares incredibly well with similarly equipped competitors.

The base model Si starts at $45,000 drive away.

For more information on prices, specifications or to book a test drive at your nearest Kia dealer, www.kia.com.au/cars/suv/sorento/2016