Drive Car of the Year 2021 - Best Large SUV
Given Australia’s penchant for SUVs, the large sub-$70K segment is a fierce battleground. Alongside the promise of roominess and fantastic cargo areas, there’s also the option of seven seats – as all three of our finalists have.
Whilst not as practical as the simple van-styled people mover they replace, Large SUVs do offer more as a whole. Some are great off-road, and some are created with performance in mind.
With that in mind, the Ford Everest was a finalist but missed out on our top three due to its more off-road skew. A great multi-role car in many ways, but overshadowed by our other finalists.
With your preference of a low-speed dirt road to a high-speed corner parked aside, there’s also the undeniable kerb that a large SUV has. They’ve beautified a segment that has a daggy history. No longer are those with multiple children subjected to the tyranny of minivan ownership.
One finalist in particular – the Kia Sorento – proves the idea that a style and seven-seats need not be agnostic of each other. Another treat is the Skoda Kodiaq. Despite being the oldest of our three finalists, its clever features genuinely help busy parents. It also comes in a performance RS variant, which is unique for the segment.
The final and third contender for the title is the Hyundai Santa Fe – a crowd favourite, being the popular choice of the three. Note that at the time of testing the MY21 Santa Fe had not arrived in Australia.
And the Winner is...
The Kia Sorento sets a new standard for the quality and technology found in large SUVs. Consider the bar lifted.
Large SUVs are currently in vogue. Given there are well over 20 options in this segment alone, it wasn’t an easy run for the final three which made it on the podium.
Whilst earlier renditions of the large, seven-seat family SUV failed to nail the brief, this later-generation pack does resolve concerns. Third-row space, albeit not perfect, does mean your kids and their friends can ride comfortably, but more importantly safely, during the school drop-off.
The visual appeal has taken a big step-up too, particularly in the case of the Sorento. Its sharp design lines and uniquely styled lights give off a classy vibe – one no doubt preferred to an old-hat people mover.
It’s just one of many small reasons why the Kia Sorento nudged ahead of the pack. Coupled with the bigger wins of excellent ride quality and a gamut of standard technology across the range, saw it score highly.
Read the full comparison at Drive.com.au