Any which way you judge such things – by outward appearance, by SUV-typical capability, by technical sophistication or by sheer metal-for-the-money value – the fourth generation of the Kia Sorento has now become a very serious, ambitious and distinctive player in the UK’s family SUV market.

The Sorento has long been rated – by this magazine and plenty of in-the-know owners – as a big, practical, capable, bargain-priced tow car and family holdall. But now it’s really spreading its wings. In this iteration, the car’s platform has been renewed; its engine range has been expanded; the gamut of active safety and driver assistance technology has been extended just as widely; and, perhaps most notable of all, its exterior and interior design has been quite radically reimagined in the hope of catching the eye of even more potential customers who may never have considered owning a Kia before.

And so, for the first time since the car’s 2002 introduction, diesel power has been joined in the line-up by two petrol-electric powertrain options. One of them – the ‘self-charging’ hybrid – powers the UK’s entry-level model, and that’s the car we’ve elected to test. As we’ll expand on shortly, it combines mechanical four-wheel drive and seven seats with what might just be considered full-sized SUV proportions and a sub- £40,000 price. So while some things about this car clearly have changed, its mission to represent practicality and value like almost nothing else in the family 4×4 market hasn’t.

If you’ve got more to spend, there are considerably more technology- and equipment-laden versions of the car you might consider; and that the plug-in hybrid looks set to combine a 30-mile electric range with an uncompromised seven-seat cabin could and should pique the attention of fleet drivers with bigger families.

But that’s for another day. For now, let’s find out whether the cheaper petrol hybrid can serve this car as well as a diesel engine typically has.