According to the 2016 Super Bowl ad, the Sorento is worthy of former Bond Brosnan so it’s probably good enough for you. It may be home on a snowy mountain road but it’s more likely most at home hauling you and your family around comfortably. With class leading reliability and safety ratings, you can drive with peace of mind knowing the Sorento won’t let you down.
Kia and Hyundai have positioned themselves as the budget priced luxury alternative brand, the Sorento is no exception. You’ll find modern design inside and out and features you’d expect from a more expensive SUV. It’s not quite as refined as its luxury competition but it does feel more premium than its budget competitors. With several available trims and seating for up to seven, we’re sure there’s a Sorento that fits your lifestyle and your budget.
Acceleration performance and fuel economy will vary based on which of the three power plants your Kia is equipped with. The DOHC 16 valve 2.4 Liter inline 4 cylinder makes 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. The turbocharged DOHC 16 valve 2.0 Liter 4 cylinder makes 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. The DOHC 24 valve 3.3 Liter V6 makes 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. Fuel ratings for these engines are 21 city/28 highway, 20 city/27 highway, and 18 city/25 highway respectively. Subtract 1 mpg for each in for All Wheel Drive equipped models.
The slowest reaches sixty in about nine seconds, while the quickest gets the job done in seven. All engines are paired with an electronically shiftable six-speed automatic transmission. The top SXL trim features steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters that make it a bit more fun. The largest area of improvement in the Sorento’s performance characteristics is the steel unibody construction. The previous generation Sorento was a body on frame design that caused an abysmal reputation for handling. The unibody construction has improved rigidity and reduced weight to improve this SUV’s handling profile.
We wouldn’t call the handling inspiring, but it’s significantly better than the previous Sorento. The ride is quiet and composed, similar to the Volkswagen Touareg, high praise for the Korean SUV. Ride quality may be nearing the Germans, but the steering feel is still lacking. You don’t get the same road feedback you get in, say, an X5, but steering feel is much better than the last generation. If you’re looking for an average performing SUV with upscale design and a comfortable ride, the Sorento isn’t a bad choice.
Inside the Sorento, you’ll find one of the better interiors for the money. There are chrome and a faux wood trim accents in even the lowest EX trim. You’ll also find a cross stitched leather dash and padded surfaces on the doors. The cloth seats are better than most, though not adjustable for height. The leather seats in the EX provide better support but you still won’t get a height-adjustable driver’s seat unless you pick the SXL trim that costs over $40,000 dollars! Second row room is great and will accommodate adults but the optional third row is best left to children who won’t mind the cramped leg and foot room. The third row isn’t available on the L and EX trim, is an option on the LX trim, and standard on the LX V6, EX V6, SX V6, and SXL V6 trims.
Why isn’t it available on all trims? We couldn’t tell you. Taller drivers may not like the Sorento because the telescopic steering wheel doesn’t come far enough out to make for a comfortable seating position with the seat all the way back. Otherwise, the driver’s seating position is comfortable and provides good vision to the sides and front. The rear, on the other hand, is awful. The Sorento’s sleek design creates giant blind spots in the corners. We’d definitely recommend the blind spot monitoring system and the rearview camera as must haves to mitigate this issue. The controls are logical and functional, something you see less and less of these days with over complicated touchscreen systems. The gauges are bright and easily read.
The top trims receive an LCD driver information display that can display all sorts of information that’s easily navigated with the steering wheel mounted controls. The lowest trim doesn’t have a touchscreen infotainment system. The LX has a 4.3inch UVO infotainment system, while the EX and higher trims receive a 7 or 8 inch UVO system. We’d recommend the latter as it’s much easier to read and use. It also receives Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Siri Eyes Free to make your life easier. The stock sound system it’s paired with is one of the better stock systems available. The Infinity 630-watt system with subwoofer is amazing! Cargo space behind the third row is very low at 11 cubic feet. Pull a lever and the third row folds flat to give you about 38 cubic feet of space, better than average for most 5 seat SUVs. Fold all seats to use an available 73.5 cubes of space, plenty to haul to your heart’s content. We think the Sorento offers a quiet and comfortable cabin with enough utility and space to suit most families’ needs.
The latest refresh of the Kia Sorento has it looking pretty upscale. At first glance, one might confuse this Kia with a more refined luxury SUV. That’s exactly what the brand is trying to do, take some consumers from their German rivals. It’s worth noting that only the top trims receive LED lighting and additional body moldings that give it the luxury look. At those prices, it’s no longer a budget SUV but will offer a few thousand in savings when compared with luxury rivals.
The Sorento’s size puts it in a class of its own. It’s a little large to be considered a compact crossover and not quite large enough to be considered a midsize SUV. The large grille and modern headlights and fog lights follow the smooth gently sloping body lines. The roof slopes down towards the rear, ending with a spoiler that enhances the SUV’s sporty aspirations. The rear is the tidiest aspect of the design. The vertically narrow, wide tail lights give the rear a wide stance similar to the Audi SUVs. Top trims receive very good looking LED tail lights as well as some additional chrome or body color accents. We think it’s a good-looking SUV for the price but still has a way to go to compete with the Germans it aims for.
The Kia Sorento receives a 5-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA, its highest rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards all “Good” crash test ratings with the additional “Top Safety Pick+” designation, their highest rating. The dummies never experienced enough force in any of the crashes to indicate a possibility of serious injuries, which is quite impressive. Additionally, the front crash prevention technology available is rated “Superior,” the highest rating available. The headlights are rated poor, which is the one weak spot for an otherwise perfect safety rating. Based on these ratings, we would definitely consider the Sorento one of the safest SUVs on the market.
JD Power gives the Sorento a 4 out of 5 predicted reliability rating, signifying reliability that’s “better than most.” Meanwhile, Consumer Reports also offers a 4 out of 5 predicted reliability rating, noting some improvement over the last few year models. According to their research, the display screen sometimes freezes or goes blank in 2016 and 2015 models. The 2014 and 2013 models’ infotainment system was much less reliable as the backup camera failed in numerous consumers’ Sorentos. The screen would also freeze and the GPS system has several issues.
Some reported difficulty pairing via Bluetooth and USB as well. Models before the 2014 update suffered several more problems than later year models. Among the concerning problems is poor weather proofing that’s prone to air and water leaks, poor suspension durability, alternator issues, and poor paint quality. Our research turned up additional common complaints about airbag warning light illuminating erroneously, headlight bulbs burning out prematurely, and a faulty ignition coil that may develop into an engine misfire. Keep in mind, this is 2013 and earlier models. The 2017 model is subject to just one NHTSA recall for an error that causes trailer brake lights to stay lit when using the trailering package. Kia dealers will replace the tow hitch harness free of charge. According to the vast number of complaints and 5 recalls issued for the 2014 model, we’d probably avoid that year as well. If you’re considering a Sorento, stick to 2015 and later model years and you should have a very reliable SUV.
We think the Mazda CX-9 is a strong competitor to the Sorento. Like the Kia, this Mazda looks and feels a lot more expensive than it is, especially in the Grand Touring trim. Though the lone power plant's 227 horses are less than two of the Kia’s engines. It still delivers better on road performance, thanks to Mazda’s driving focused engineering philosophy. It’s still enough power to motivate the 2-ton beast to sixty in just over 7 seconds. Thank the 310 lb-ft of torque! That’s significantly more torque than you’ll find in any Sorento. This large SUV handles deftly despite its weight and there’s tons of feedback from the road that you wouldn’t expect in a seven passenger SUV. The CX-9 features acoustic glass in all trims and sound deadening technology that provide an even quieter ride than the Sorento. The soft touch leather dash trim has superior fit and finish and looks like a cabin you might find in a German rival.
The Sorento wins in the convenience category as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t available in the CX-9 at any trim. The CX-9 does include many more features standard though, like a rearview camera and touch screen infotainment system. Speaking of infotainment, many drivers prefer the Mazda’s and it has a better reputation for reliability. Cargo capacity and second row room are about the same in both, as is the third row. We have to give Mazda credit for including a power liftgate standard, making loading and unloading more bearable. The Sorento’s advanced safety features are better, as there are many complaints of the Mazda’s being too over eager, impeding the driving experience. If we had to choose between the two, we’d go with the Mazda CX-9 for its superior driving dynamics and superior interior. That said, we wouldn’t fault you for choosing the Sorento. If you do, let us know why in the comments below.
The Sorento’s base L trim has an MSRP of $25,600 which includes a 2.4 Liter Dual Overhead Cam 16 valve inline 4 cylinder engine with continuously variable valve timing and gasoline direct injection, 6-speed automatic transmission with Sportsmatic Sports Shifter, front wheel drive, body-color heated mirrors with LED turn indicators, solar control glass, privacy glass, variable intermittent wipers, projector beam headlights, positioning lights, a rear spoiler, 17 inch alloy wheels, Sirius XM satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, USB port, auxiliary input jack, 12-volt power outlets, tilt and telescopic steering column, EcoMinder fuel efficiency indicator, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, interior accent illumination, dual illuminated visor vanity mirrors, under rear floor cargo storage, cloth seats with YES Essentials fabric treatment, 40/20/20 split folding 2nd row, advanced airbags, and electronic brake-force distribution. Remote start is available for an additional $425. The $26,900 LX trim adds sound absorbing windshield glass, auto light control, silver finished low profile roof rails, 4.3 inch touchscreen audio display, rearview camera, USB 2.1 charger ports, and front seatback pockets, as well as several options unavailable on the L trim. All Wheel Drive costs $1,800. The LX Convenience Package equips the 7in UVO infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, rear parking assist system, dual zone climate control, and leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift for $1,800. The $695 LX Essentials Premium Package builds on the above with leather seat trim, Smart Welcome, and Smart Key with push button start.
The LX 3rd-Row Seating Package adds a third row and upgrades the second row for $1,490. A $1,500 LX Advanced Technology Package adds the 7in LCD driver information display, Autonomous Emergency Braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, and an electronic parking brake with auto hold. The LX V6 trim costs $29,200 and equips a 3.3 Liter Dual Overhead Cam 24 valve V6 with dual continuously variable valve timing and gasoline direct injection, a shark fin antenna, sliding and auto-folding second-row seats, and 50/50 split-folding 3rd-row seats. All Wheel Drive costs $1,800. The LX V6 Convenience Package costs $2,500 and installs a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear parking assist system, shark fin antenna, dual zone automatic climate control, 3rd row air conditioning, auto-dimming mirror, rear cross traffic alert, and blind spot detection system. A $1,000 LX V6 Advanced Technology Package adds Autonomous Emergency Braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, and an electronic parking brake with auto hold. The EX trim provides a turbocharged 2.0 Liter Dual Overhead Cam inline 4 cylinder engine, a gloss black front grille, illuminated door handle pockets, sound-absorbing front window glass, bulb type front fog lights, lower silver bumper accents, 18in alloy wheels, UVO eServices with 7 inch color touchscreen display, Android Auto, Apple Carplay, HD Radio, rear parking assist system, steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, push button start with smart key and immobilizer, dual-zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming mirror, integrated second row sunshades, leather trimmed seats, 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support, heated front seats, leather and wood-style gearshift handle, and leather-wrapped steering wheel for $31,700.
The EX Premium Package installs a smart power liftgate, blind spot detection, 7 inch driver information cluster, 110 volt power inverter, power folding outside mirrors, smart welcome, and rear cross traffic alert for $1,600. An Advanced Touring Package costs an additional $2,500 and equips a panoramic sunroof with power sunshade, autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, and LED map and room lights. All Wheel Drive is available for an additional $1,800. The 33,300 EX V6 installs the V6, blind spot detection system, rear cross traffic alert, 7 inch LCD driver information cluster, third row air conditioning with controls, sliding and auto-folding second row, and 50/50 split folding third row seats. For $1,200, the EX V6 Premium Package includes smart power liftgate with programmable height adjustment, power folding outside mirrors, 110 volt power inverter, smart welcome, and power windows with second row one touch auto up and down.
The $2,500 Advanced Touring Package builds on the above with a panoramic sunroof with power sunshade, autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, LED map and room lights, and chrome finished low profile roof racks. All Wheel Drive can be equipped for $1,800. The SX V6 trim costs $38,800 and equips red painted calipers, rack mounted motor driven power steering, dark metallic front grille, power folding outside mirrors, smart welcome, reverse tilt down outside mirrors, panoramic sunroof with power sunshade, smart power liftgate, programmable liftgate height adjustment, LED jewel-type positioning lights, LED rear combination lamps, chrome finished low profile roof rails, stainless steel lower bumper accents, stainless steel rear bumper protector, body color wheel arch moulding, body color lower door moulding, 19 inch alloy wheels, UVO eServices with Navigation, 8” inch color touchscreen display, SiriusXM Traffic, 119 volt power inverter, Infinity 10 speaker audio system with Clari-Fi external amplifier and subwoofer, one touch up down on all power windows, LED map and room lights, 14-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, driver’s seat integrated memory system, leather and black deco gearshift handle, illuminated aluminum door sill scuff trim, stainless steel liftgate trim, and carpeted floormats.
The lone SX V6 Advanced Technology Package costs $2,000 and adds projector beam HID headlamps with auto leveling, dynamic bending light with auto leveling, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, lane departure warning system, forward collision warning system, autonomous emergency braking, electronic parking brake with auto hold, ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel. For $1,800, All Wheel Drive can be installed. FInally, the $44,100 SXL V6 trim arrives loaded with black painted calipers, High Intensity Discharge projector beam headlights with automatic leveling, dynamic bending light with automatic leveling, LED front fog lights, chrome lower door moulding, chrome 19 inch wheels, surround view monitor, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, lane departure warning system, forward collision warning system, autonomous emergency braking, electronic parking brake with automatic hold, auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink, premium Nappa leather seating trim, ventilated front seats, heated second row seats, leather-wrapped and wood-style steering wheel, heated steering wheel, and stainless steel pedals. All Wheel Drive is an additional $1,800.