The new all-terrain Kia Sorento1.6 HEV T-GDi Auto AWD plug-in hybrid is packed full of new initiatives, many of them designed to enhance driver experience.

This tells you that this Sorento is a PHEV model

This tells you that this Sorento is a PHEV model

It's one of those vehicles that ticks a lot of boxes for a wide variety of buyers. especially those attracted by inside practicality, as well as outside looks and performance.

On first viewing, it is a sturdy four-wheel-drive, with a bit of finesse thrown in, for an all-around reliable but powerful look. Its 19-inch alloys blend in with the angular lines and its privacy glass, rear spoiler and panoramic sun-roof, to give it an overall sporty look.

Inside, there's a comfortable feel. And for the driver, there are eight-way controls to get your carcase fitting just right into its black Nappa leather upholstery (as fitted to the test vehicle), with two-way lumber support. Operationally, the pedals and foot-rest are well-spaced, large and comfortable to use, making it great for a long drive – at least if we were allowed such during lockdown! The heated seats and heated steering wheel, add to driver comfort, especially during the cold weather during the period the test vehicle was with us.

Inside the roomy cabin of the Kia Sorento, with all controls easy to get to

Inside the roomy cabin of the Kia Sorento, with all controls easy to get to

Unlike some more expensive makes on the market, the air conditioning works in all three seating areas, not just filtering through from the front, ensuring that rear-seat passengers get a more rounded warmth. Taking cold feet is not an issue.

The audio and communications are fairly straightforward for setting up your phone and radio for those who require very few gadgets and get their experience from the drive, rather than the cockpit. For drivers who require a bit more 'tecchie', there is a customisable head-up display, Bluetooth with music streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with voice control, all streamed through a Premium Sound System with 12 speakers.

A wireless phone charger, together with two USB ports in the front and second row seats and well-situated cup holders in both, again add passenger comfort. The rear two seats split and can be folded flat for extra space but the outside of the car bellies the space inside, even when the rear seats are up.

The Sorento comes in three spec' levels of 2, 3 and 4. The Kia 4 1.6 T-GDi, costs a fairly hefty £46.945 and has a 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 44.2kW electric motor and 149kWh lithium-ion battery, giving a comfortable and powerful drive. It would be ideal as a family seven-seater 4 X 4 but is still able to give a sexy, sporty performance, which gives confidence to any driver.

As the flagship of the range, the '4' boasts all manner of technology to enhance the driving experience. There are, arguably, too many bells and whistles for the average driver and it is slithering into the range of watching too many cameras and hearing too many buzzers, to allow the driver to concentrate on the road. Side-cameras, appear on the dashboard, when turning left or right, distracting the driver from using the necessary mirrors and windows.

The wing mirrors automatically turn down to face the road when reversing, which may well prevent hitting a kerb, but not a pedestrian or a car when reversing out of a space in a car park, unless you also use the rear camera.

The third row of seats – the Sorento can seat up to seven – can be configured to make the most of the space available

The third row of seats – the Sorento can seat up to seven – can be configured to make the most of the space available

Other features, like the Driver Attention Warning (DAW), Forward Collison Avoidance (FCA) and Hill Start Assist Control(HAC), are all useful but largely unnecessary if you, like me, pay attention! The Lane Follow Assist (LFA), causes the car to pull on narrow roads and while it can be turned off, it turns back on automatically, plus like that, the Start/Stop tune, which plays every time you enter or leave the car, becomes annoying after a time.

The anti-lock braking system, with Downhill Brake Control (DBC), is smooth as well as efficient and helps charge the 13.8 kWh battery. This adds to the ecological and economical performance of the car, which boasts zero-carbon emissions, with its combined petrol and electric capability, giving the flexibility of distance, while reducing CO2 and overall running costs. With a six-speed automatic transmission, it can reach 60mph in around 8.7 seconds, with a fuel consumption of around 45mpg, which is not bad for what is a fairly substantial vehicle.

The multi-link, self-levelling suspension ensures a smooth ride, even over potholes or loose terrain and off roading would not be an issue as the Terrain Mode Select (TMS) also lets you adapt your drive at the touch of a button, with a host of Drive Modes (Eco, Sport, Smart) and Terrain Modes (Snow, Mud, Sand) to suit your specific journey.

Overall, this is an outstanding family/business car, which will comfortably drive short or long distances and carry its seven passengers easily, giving both driver and passengers a comfortable ride.

Oh … and it needs a shorter name. Saying Kia Sorento1.6 HEV T-GDi Auto AWD plug-in hybrid needs breathing exercises to accomplish!