The best SUVs on the market need to be fantastic all-rounders to make an impact in such a highly competitive class. They have to deliver the versatility of an MPV and be as comfortable as anexecutive car while still having decent off-road ability. And the latest arrival in the sector is the all-new Kia Sorento.

• Best SUVs to buy now

This third-generation model, as you’d expect, is bigger than ever, and it comes with seven seats as standard. In typical Kia fashion, the Sorento features plenty of kit; but with prices ranging from £29,000 to £41,000, this is one Kia that’s closing in on premium brand territory. 

The question is, can it compete in this rarefied atmosphere? To find out, we’ve lined the Sorento up against a car that will test its credentials to the max: the Land Rover Discovery Sport

• Best family cars

The Disco also has seven seats and an upmarket interior, plus it carries a similar price tag. But unlike the Kia, it’s classed as a compact SUV – indeed, it was crowned best in the category at ourNew Car Awards 2015.

Can the Sorento’s larger dimensions give it the edge in this contest? Or is the Discovery Sport enough of a class act to make up for its lack of stature? We tested both models in town, on the motorway and even off-road to see how they measured up.

If you often carry seven adults, the Sorento is the car to go for. Its back seats (above) are easier to access, have more head and legroom and are easy to fold. The Disco’s rearmost seats are smaller, as is its boot. Land Rover quotes a 981-litre capacity to the roof, but according to our measurements it has less space under the load cover than the Kia.

While the Sorento is the seven-seat choice, the Discovery Sport is the off-road champ. Its Terrain Response system (above) adapts the traction control, engine and box to suit road conditions, while hill descent control is standard. On the Kia, you get hill start assist, but the 4WD system is automatic.

Equipment

Kia doesn’t offer any options aside from metallic paint (£575), but Land Rover allows for a lot of personalisation. There are contrast roof colours and different wheels, while inside you can add plush leather and upgrade the sound system, too.

It was close, but the Discovery Sport takes victory here with its combination of a high-quality cabin, first-class road manners and decent practicality. Sure, the back seats aren’t the roomiest around, but they’re good enough for most trips, while its off-road ability gives it an advantage. And if you order one now, you’ll benefit from Land Rover’s efficient new diesel (below).

There’s no doubt that if you want a seven-seater but don’t want to buy an MPV, the Sorento is a great choice due to its roomy back row. It has a spacious boot and is reasonably comfortable, too. Still, while this is the most upmarket Kia yet, it still doesn’t quite match the Land Rover for desirability or quality. We’d recommend one of the lower-spec models instead.

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