Kia Sorento has gone ultra stylish in its just-released third generation. Perhaps not a surprise, as Sorrento in Italy has been famed for style for hundreds of years.

We aren’t sure why Kia spells its Sorento with just one ‘r’ rather than two as in the Italian original – perhaps to try to stand out from the crowd. As almost a third of vehicles sold in Australia in 2015 will be SUVs, the Sorento’s “look-at-me” style is certainly important.

Sorento’s front grille has the now familiar ‘Schreyer’ shape and leaves no doubt which brand it belongs to. The headlights join the grille in a BMW-like manner to increase the visual effect of width. Large cutouts for the foglights join the party and the lower grille is hardly of the shy and retiring type.

We like the side profile, particularly the deep windows that continue all the way to the rear. Too many stylists are going for a shapely kick up in the rear-side glass which looks nice but can ruin the view for the children in the rearmost seats.

Similarly, we like the practical squared-off tail designed to carry a decent amount of luggage even when all seven seats are in use.

As before, the Kia Sorento is offered in Si, SLi and Platinum grades. Prices begin at a pretty reasonable $40,990 for a petrol two-wheel-drive Si and run up to $55,990 if you chose a Platinum with the turbo-diesel and all-wheel-drive.

Even the lower-cost Sorento Si is well equipped, with 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, power windows and mirrors and wood-look interior trim among quite a list of other upmarket features. The SLi has 18-inch alloys, the wood-look is extended to the steering wheel and centre console and there are sporty looking alloy pedals.

Topping it off is the Sorento Platinum, with a huge sunroof, 19-inch alloy wheels, a heated steering wheel and a more powerful stereo.

All-new Kia Sorento comes with a choice of petrol or diesel engines. Initial road testing at the Sorento launch out of Port Douglas shows the 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine has decent torque at normal engine revs and the lighter weight of the new design petrol made it our favourite.

The petrol powerplant is only offered in 2WD models (the front wheels). As befits its heavier duty use, the diesel is used in Sorentos with all-wheel-drive.

In a sign of the times all Sorento models have a six-speed automatic.

The big Sorento is smooth, quiet and comfortable and leans in the people mover direction rather than that of a bush basher.

The all-new Kia Sorento is stylish, spacious, smooth and a real pleasure to drive. We can see it pulling increased sales over the just-superseded model.

Ewan Kennedy