Having moved from the realm of SUVs to crossovers with its redesign in 2009, the Sorento both looks and feels the part. Combine that with a family-friendly 7-seat option, not to mention a sporty V6 and SX trim level and Kia’s flagship crossover checks a lot of boxes.
|1. Three engine choices are offered on the 2013 Sorento, a 175 hp 2.4L 4-cylinder, a 191 hp direct-injection 2.4L 4-cylinder and a 276 hp 3.5L V6.
2. 2WD 4-cylinder models are rated at 21/30 mpg (city/highway) and 20/26 mpg for the AWD, while V6 AWD models get an 18/24 mpg rating.
3. 4-cylinder models can tow 1,650 lbs, while the V6 is rated at 3,500 lbs.
4. Starting at $23,150, SX models start at $31,700.
5. In 2014 Kia will add an SX-L trim level with larger 19-inch chrome wheels, Xenon HID headlamps, a panoramic sunroof, premium Nappa leather seating, a heated steering wheel and a new FlexSteer selectable drive modes system with Normal, Comfort and Sport modes.
Thriving in its second generation, the Sorento can be had as either a five- or seven-seater, with three engine options and starts at just $23,150 for the LX model.
A base 2.4L 4-cylinder makes 175 horsepower with 169 lb-ft of torque, while a gasoline direct injection (GDI) version of the same engine can be had raising output to 191 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. Both are suitable for daily commutes though if you’re driving style is a bit more aggressive then the 3.5-liter V6 in our test car with 276 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque is perfect.
Both models include a 6-speed automatic transmission with either a front-wheel drive or optional full time all-wheel drive systems, as well as Kia’s Sportmatic manual shifting feature.
Fuel economy is solid at 21/30 mpg (city/highway) for 2WD models and 20/26-mpg (city/highway) for the AWD. GDI models favor added performance and only offer one more mpg in the city on the front-drive version.
As for the V6, it achieves 20/26 mpg (city/highway) for the front-driver and 18/24 mpg with AWD.
DO A DOUBLE TAKE
Kia has earned accolades over the last few years for a new wave of vehicles with charismatic German-inspired styling cues. More handsome and less rugged, the Sorento improves with age with smooth lines, a bold front fascia and sleek lighting. Fully equipped in SX trim like our test car and it’s quietly alluring. And with five trims available, there is definitely something for everyone.
Going basic means getting the LX model, which offers standard 17-inch alloy wheels, body-color heated side-mirrors with turn signals, silver roof rails and the option of front fog lights. Priced at $2,250 more, the LX V6 has standard silver roof rails along with the aforementioned items.
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Stepping it up, the EX trim ($26,950) encompasses some added features like standard automatic lighting as well as 18-inch hyper-finish alloy wheels and a rear spoiler. For an extra $2,700, the EX V6 adds the same tech features plus options like power-folding heated side mirrors with turn signals and a panoramic sunroof.
Our sporty SX trim tester ($31,700) is the shiniest example with 18-inch mirror-finish alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, chrome roof rails, stainless-steel accent plates, body-color bumpers, side sill trim, colored body-moldings, stainless-steel step pads, chrome tailpipes and LED taillamps.
With so many options to choose from, in the color department Kia lets you play it safe with options like silver, grey, black and white while those with a taste for the theatrical can pick Tuscan Olive, Dark Cherry, Metal Bronze or Baltic Blue.
SO MUCH MORE ON THE INSIDE
With so many options to choose from, the Sorento’s interior comes well equipped even before you start to check the order boxes.
Standard amenities include modern tech like USB input jacks, Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted controls as well as power windows and door locks with keyless entry. Available options include Kia’s UVO in-infotainment system with rear-camera display, auto-dimming rear-view mirror (with compass), a handy back-up warning system and a 2nd-row sunshade screen
Within the top three trims (EX, EX V6 and SX), expect regular features like a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, leather heated front seats, a 60/40 split-folding 2nd-row and black wood trim.
Our tester was dressed in the SX Premium Package with great tech and sporty leather finishings. Included in the SX model is everything from an 8-way power driver’s seat and 10-speaker Infinity audio system, to a custom gauge cluster, dual-zone climate control, keyless access with a push-button ignition, as well as illuminated stainless steel scuff plates and both heated and cooled front seats.
The result of all these add-ons is a cabin that’s mature yet sporty, though perhaps still with a bit too much low-grade plastic.
Our 7-seater test car with three rows sounds ideal for families, but that last row is best left down for added cargo room, with the seats used only for emergencies. Space in the third row is tight, even for children, and cargo room behind it a minimal at 9.1 cubic feet. Drop the 50/50 split folding seat and trunk space is improved to 37 cu-ft with 72 cu-ft total.
Of note, while 5-seater models feature an under-rear-cargo-floor storage compartment, that space is absent on the 7-seater model.
FIRM RIDE: FOR BETTER AND FOR WORSE
The Sorento moves with the stance of an SUV and the ease of a car, with capable steering and handling but there is still a little ruggedness often found in larger SUVs. Handling is capable, though the trade off for reduced body roll comes in a stiffness that can make the ride bumpy at times.
On better roads, it’s a relaxing drive and is stiff enough to be engaging when necessary. The V6 engine helps too, and with a small trade-off in fuel economy, it’s the one to go for.
A capable and practical machine, with good looks and solid fuel economy, the Sorento is an attractive buy for many crossover shoppers. Entry offerings fit the bill for those who need the space and utility on a tight budget and don’t hide the fact that their interiors match their price. Models like out SX tester, however, deliver much of the toys you’d expect in a premium crossover, at a serious discount. It might not have the fancy badge, but the Sorento SX makes sense for fewer cents.