The 2017 Kia Sorento EX is fine. Really, it is.
Engine: 3.3L V6
Output: 290 hp, 252 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed auto
US Fuel Economy (MPG): 18 city, 25 hwy
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 13.2 city, 9.3 hwy
US Price: Starts at $33,300
CAN Price: Starts at $37,095
As a matter of fact, it is legitimately impressive in numerous ways, but I’m just a bit sour. Let me explain.
Three of my friends and I were supposed to travel about 500 miles and back for an archery tournament, each of us with a pile of luggage and equipment. You need a big vehicle for that, but you don’t need a fun one.
After securing the Kia Sorento EX outfitted with a 3.3-liter V6 and seating for seven adults, two of the guys backed out from the trip. We no longer needed such a big vehicle for just the two of us, so I wanted something a bit more fun.
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Would a Porsche Panamera have been a little cozy for two people and a fair bit of gear? Perhaps. Would a Lexus GS F or a Cadillac CTS-V have been too cramped? Maybe. But I gladly would have put up with this whisper of inconvenience to spend a week feeling like a damn rock star.
I’m married with two young kids and drive a 2010 Mazda5 splattered with the rotting carcasses of an army of Gold Fish crackers, an infantry of mangled pretzel chips and the partially consumed remains of a brave but forgotten Ring Pop so entrenched in the carpet that it is now considered part of the car. The haunting memories of Taylor Swift duets piercingly screamed from the back seat are forever seared into my brain. Just give me a damn sport sedan so I can feel cool again!
But like any professional, I pushed the desire for a screaming turbocharged V8 deep into the pit of my stomach where it will later turn into indigestion. It was time to soldier on and give the Kia Sorento a fair chance.
Step inside the Kia Sorento EX and you are treated to a pleasant and luxurious interior. Leather seats are plenty comfortable and the infotainment center is easy to use – a nice change from the cumbersome system found in the Lexus RX 350 we drove a couple of months ago.
A generous seven-inch information display is very intuitive, so switching from the satellite radio to your mobile device is a snap. Our only complaint was the lack of a GPS. Thanks to a selection of mobile apps, this normally wouldn’t be an issue, but as we were crossing the border, we were wary the data charges we’d surely face.
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With the third row folded flat, there was ample room in the back for our luggage, bow cases, and camera gear. We weren’t particularly careful about loading our stuff, so it looked more crowded than it really was. Any Tetris-inspired traveler could easily fit in twice the amount of gear we had with us. The space is certainly acceptable for anything a family of four or five should need for a road trip.
The EX falls in the middle of the Sorento’s lineup, but it comes equipped with an impressive list of features. Four 18-inch machined aluminum wheels are nice, the blind spot detection system proved useful on the highway, and having both heated seats and steering wheel was a treat on this mid-winter trip. Other features include rearview camera and sensors, push button start, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and individual climate control for driver and passenger.
The vast majority of our time in the Sorento was spent on the highway. Because I’m cheap, I drove in Eco mode pretty much the entire time. Compared to the Lexus RX 350, the Eco mode in the Sorento is downright sporty. In fact, I had no real desire to switch it over to a more aggressive driving mode, as it only would have reminded me of what could have been in a truly fun car (sometimes the longing returns).
At highway speeds, I found the interior to be considerably loud, but noise levels were certainly within reason and much better than my aging Mazda5.
The Sorento’s suspension soaked up any chatter from the road, offering up a smooth, confident ride. In the city, I didn’t notice any squishy body roll in the corners like you’ll sometimes find in larger vehicles like this (but never in the Panamera!).
Power felt pretty strong while pulling away at traffic lights and stop signs. It’s not going to win any drag races (unlike the GS F), but I had no trouble keeping ahead of traffic after a stop.
Kia offers three different engine options for the Sorento, but the added cost of the peppy 290-horsepower 3.3L V6 in the EX model seems like a worthy investment. It’s a really nice powerplant – just not screaming V8 in a CTS-V nice.
Fuel economy was also impressive. I put about 1,000 miles on the odometer and averaged just a hair more than 23 mpg. Had I not kept it in Eco mode those numbers would likely look a bit worse, but overall I was quite happy at how little fuel the Sorento sipped.
The Verdict: 2017 Kia Sorento EX AWD Review
Despite the disappointment at not getting to rip around in a high priced, ridiculously powerful car for a week, I will almost certainly never buy one. The 2017 Kia Sorento EX, however, would suit my family of four quite well. The interior is nice (and those leather seats are easy to clean), the list of features is impressive, and I was quite pleased with the power – even in Eco mode. With an MSRP starting at $33,300 in the U.S., it is also financially attainable.
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