2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD Review

Wednesday September 20th, 2017 at 8:99 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

Hypes: Best Dash Layout and Controls of Any SUV
Gripes: Tiny Third Row Seats

Kia has been on a winning streak for so many years now that it’s hard to remember the automotive landscape in the USA before this Korean powerhouse arrived. But I clearly recall the advent of Kia here, back in 1994, when I rented a subcompact in Las Vegas. Hertz turned me loose in a boxy little Kia Pride badged as a Ford Festiva. The car was so remarkably lively and inspiring to drive that I thought Kia would soon make a major impact on the North American auto landscape. But the company declared bankruptcy in 1997, and its resurgence in the USA did not regain a foothold until recently. Now Kia, which is partially owned by Hyundai, offers a full model range of sedans, crossovers and SUVs. One of their best models is the Sorento, a midsized SUV with a wide choice of power trains and luxury accoutrements. We spent a productive and comfortable week test driving the top model in the Sorento range, the all-wheel-drive SX Limited (SXL) powered by an exceptionally responsive 3.3 liter, 290hp V6. This Titanium Metallic over White Leather beauty priced out at $46,595

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

The appeal of the Sorento model line lies in the many echelons of equipment on offer, starting with the SX base model (2.4 liter 185hp Inline 4 at $26,295), escalating to the intermediate EX grade (2.0 liter turbocharged 240hp Inline 4), and topping out with our SXL, which gets 19 MPG overall and can tow 5000 pounds of trailer. 52% of Sorento buyers opt for the SX, 13.5% choose the LX, and 35.5% pick the AWD SXL. New for 2017 is a very effective Autonomous Emergency Braking System (AEB), which is standard on the EXL and optionally available on other models. Kia has also made Android Auto and Apple Car Play standard on EX and SX levels of the Sorento.

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

Although you could conceivably carry a couple of tykes in this SUV’s third row seat, don’t plan on doing it regularly since ingress and egress is very tight. As a 4 or 5 seater, however, this Kia accommodates a full passenger load with grace and comfort. The Nappa leather seats are well contoured for long distance cruising comfort and stylish looking, with perforated inserts that contain both heating and cooling elements for the front row. Even the grab areas of the steering wheel are heated and come to full temperature gratifyingly quickly on cold mornings.

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

The beauty of the Sorento is that Kia engineers have achieved a perfect combination of fixed dashboard buttons for full operation of all critical systems (heat, ventilation, lights). Unlike so many manufacturers, who insist on embedding these command controls inside layer upon layer of screen menus, Kia takes a distinctly opposite tack in making the basics clearly and instantly available to the driver. This is a huge benefit in terms of peace of mind and safety in operation. It’s just one of the many factors responsible for Kia winning the JD Powers Initial Quality Survey for the last two years running.

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

But the Sorento is more than just a well tailored living room. This is one of the most responsive and quick SUVs we’ve driven in a long time. By coincidence, we parked the SXL next to a slightly earlier version of the same vehicle. Kia has really improved the Sorento’s appearance at the front with ice cube tray LED light clusters, and at the back, with new LED tail lights and a stainless ribbed diffuser spanning the distance between the twin exhaust outlets. But the single most noticeable difference between the older Sorento and our SXL was the stance of the vehicle produced by tire and wheel differences. The earlier version rode on nondescript 17″ rims with tall sidewall 65 series radial tires (235/65R17). The SXL’s highly polished 19″ alloys are fitted with excellent Michelin all season rubber (235/55R19 Premier LTX) that provide good cornering grip, immediate response to steering input, and AWD-augmented wet weather adhesion.

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

Recently I drove an Acura MDX on the same 120 mile roundtrip through the North Bay that I completed with the Sorento. In both cases, I set the radar cruise control to a speed of 65mph and let the system do its thing. As traffic ebbed and flowed, he MDX constantly accelerated and slowed to the point that I deactivated the cruise control and used my throttle foot instead. The Sorento, on the other hand, maintained a serene pace under all circumstances, without surges or brake slams. This operation of the Kia cruise control is emblematic of the Sorento’s unobtrusively well honed behavior. If you’re looking for a top line family mover with lots of guts under the hood and an equal measure of refinement and thoughtful operational design in the cabin, then the SX Limited Sorento is an optimal choice.

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

  • Engine: 3.3 liter Gas Direct Injection (GDi) V6
  • Horsepower: 290hp
  • Torque: 252lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 17 MPG City/23 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $46,595
  • Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars

Posted in Expert Reviews, Feature Articles, Kia |Tags:, , || No Comments »

Review: 2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD 2.0 Turbo

Wednesday August 5th, 2015 at 9:88 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD 2.0 Turbo

By David Colman

Hypes: Love the Quadrant of K900 Style Driving Lights on Each Front Fender
Gripes: Light-Switch Power Curve, Innocuous Interior

Kia’s 2016 Sorento model range begins with the front-wheel-drive base model LX ($24,300), proceeds through intermediate versions called EX ($31,700) and SX ($36,700), and tops out with the SXL or Limited version we tested. Without first consulting the window sticker, I often try to guess the asking price of a test vehicle the first time I climb aboard. Generally, my ballpark estimates tend to be fairly accurate. The SXL Sorento, however, threw me a curve ball because it initially impressed me as a compact SUV priced in the high $20K to mid $30K price range. When I caught site of its $45,095 bottom line, and $41,700 base price, a shot of adrenalin was needed to counter sticker shock. Frankly, there isn’t much in terms of interior finery or mechanical sophistication to counter my initial notion that the Sorento SXL 2.0 is overpriced.

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD 2.0 Turbo

Though I have not had the opportunity to sample base levels of this model, the cabin of the SX, with its rubberized, industrial looking dash top and door panels, and bargain basement mesh storage pockets behind the front seat backs do not define plush. Both front and rear seats, however, are good looking and finely tailored, with deviated stitching on the bolsters, and diamond patterned grey inserts. They are also quite comfortable, offering the softness of Nappa leather on both the first and second rows. The front seats boast 3 stage heating and cooling, the driver’s seat is 14 way adjustable, and the steering wheel rim warms to a toasty grasp without delay. The ability to alter the seatback inclination of the rear seats is particularly welcome. In fact, rear seat passengers are well cared for in all respects with adjustable large ventilation ducts, 115v plug receptacle (150W maximum), and privacy screens for both rear side windows.

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD 2.0 Turbo

The all-wheel-drive SXL can be ordered with either the turbocharged 2.0 liter inline 4 of our test vehicle, or a 3.3 liter V6. The turbo 4 makes 240hp and 260lb.-ft. of torque compared to the V6, which produces 30 more hp (290hp) but 8 pound feet less torque (252lb.-ft.). The gain in fuel consumption for the inline 4 is negligible, with the V6 posting 18/26MPG and the I4 good for 19/25MPG. That being the case, I would definitely opt for the smoother V6 because the I4, while quite powerful, has a light-switch quality to its power curve. Even when you don’t require full power, a slight tip-in of the throttle results in an unwelcome shove in the back when you least expect it. The I4 needs attention to its power delivery curve, especially the jerky transition from part to full throttle. However, thanks to that raging turbo, you’ll never find yourself short of acceleration when merging onto freeways or passing slower cars on back roads.

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD 2.0 Turbo

The 6-speed Sportmatic transmission works through its well-spaced gears with a floor mounted lever allowing selection and retention of individual ratios as needed. 19 inch alloy rims are standard fitment on the SXL, fitted with solid performing Michelin Premier LTX tires (235/55R19). Suspension calibration is more oriented to comfort than handling. As a result, the Sorento heels over rather quickly on sharp turns, allowing the Michelin tires to shoulder most of the cornering load. This comfort calibration leads to pleasant freeway travel, with little disturbance over potholes, bumps, or truck lane troughs.

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD 2.0 Turbo

Our test Sorento boasted the addition of a $2,500 SXL Technology Package, which consists of Xenon HD headlamps, lane departure warning system (LDWS), forward collision warning system, electronic parking brake, surround view monitor, and smart cruise control. Save yourself the extra outlay for this grouping. Due to an all but invisible indicator light on the instrument cluster, I could never tell whether the e-brake was on or off, so I gave up using it, relying on the transmission’s Park setting instead. Since I find LDWS intrusive and annoying, I switched it off at start up on most outings. The radar cruise control is also rather demanding in tight traffic, so I substituted my own judgment instead. About the only thing I would miss without the Technology Package is the HID headlights, which add a good measure of night time safety.

But if there is one overwhelming reason to chose the Sorento over any other mid size SUV it is this: Sorento is one of only 9 vehicles to record zero deaths per million registered vehicles according to the Insurance Institute for Highway safety.

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD 2.0 Turbo

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD 2.0 Turbo

  • Engine: 2.0 liter Turbo with Direct gas Injection
  • Horsepower: 240hp@6,000rpm
  • Torque: 260lb.-ft.@1450rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 199MPG City/25MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $45,095
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

Posted in Expert Reviews, Feature Articles, Kia |Tags:, , || No Comments »

Review: 2013 Kia Sorento EX AWD

Saturday October 26th, 2013 at 8:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Counterbalanced Hood, Well Designed Interior Accoutrements
Gripes: Dark Red Instrument Needle Pointers Virtually Invisible

Last year, Kia transformed its Sorento from a truck framed SUV to a crossover style unibody. That big switch relegated the 2013 version to such minor revisions as new badge work and optional 3rd row mini-seats. The model range covers the gamut from entry level front-wheel-drive, 4 cylinder offerings like the $23,950 LX, to the penultimate offering we spent a week in, the $31,700 EX. Top of the model line is the SX, which stickers for $33,400. The all-wheel-drive EX model features a 3.3 liter V-6 using variable valve timing and direct fuel injection to produce 290hp and enough torque to tow 3,500 pounds. You’ll be operating a 6-speed automatic transmission without the assist of steering wheel paddles. The V-6 in this 4,235 pound vehicle, records just 18 MPG in city operation and 24 MPG on the highway. A round trip from Mill Valley to Santa Rosa surprised us by taking the fuel needle from full to half full in just 120 miles.

The Sorento EX is so softly sprung that the buckled pavement typical of California back roads causes it to pitch to and fro like a carnival ride. Comfort improves considerably on freeway jaunts where the independent front and rear suspension systems cope better with smooth pavement. Steering is fingertip light, with little information about front wheel position filtering back through the smooth leather wrapped rim. Although Kia provides the EX with standard 18 inch alloy rims wrapped in premium Kumho Venture rubber (235/60R18), you’ll rarely put these beefy contact patches to the test because the jiggling EX will dissuade you from cornering too vigorously.

At the moderate pace thus dictated by this SUV, you will, however, enjoy luxury and comfort beyond expectation in this price range. Of course, part of the bounteous swaddling stems from the fact that KIA fitted our EX with a “Touring” package that added a whopping $4,000 to the base price of the Sorento. Included in this compendium were such niceties as a Navigation System with a prominent 8 inch display panel. Unfortunately, unless you tap the “I Agree” button on the screen’s legal release document every time you start the Sorento, you’re forced to view this ridiculous warning in perpetuity.

Also provided by the Touring Package are an Infinity Surround Sound System, Ventilated and Power Adjustable Front Seats, Blind Spot Detection, and the Biggest Sunroof You’ve Ever Seen. When you factor in good visibility from the driver’s seat, oversize rear view mirrors, and very refined cruise control, the Sorento EX becomes a willing long distance cruise partner. Standard inclusions at the EX level include keyless push button start, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, tire pressure monitoring system, BLUETOOTH wireless technology, USB input jacks, 3 months of free SIRIUSXM service, and a rear camera display through the navigation screen.

If you opt for the $715 third row seat, you’ll be able to carry 5 adults and 2 children in the Sorento at the same time. This makes the EX an attractive proposition for large families more concerned with practicality than performance. While the latest Sorento will never confuse you with BMW-like handling, it accomplishes more mundane driving chores with a panache and refinement that exceed the modest expectations suggested by its cost.

2013 Kia Sorento EX AWD

  • Engine: 3.3 liter DOHC V-6 with direct injection and variable valve timing
  • Horsepower: 290hp
  • Torque: 248 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 18 MPG City/24 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $36,550
  • Star Rating: 7.5 out of 10 Stars

Posted in Expert Reviews, Feature Articles, Kia |Tags:, , || No Comments »

Tested: 2014 Kia Sorento V6

Monday August 26th, 2013 at 11:88 AM
Posted by: Francois

What’s New

Wow, color us surprised. The exterior did not wow us but we got in the car, and fell in love within our first day with the Sorento. It’s a kind of car that just keeps surpassing expectations from the moment you mash the throttle, throw it into a corner or open the sunroof. Every aspect of the car overdelivers except the sticker price. And one thing we love is the option list is empty and does not come with a $6000 price tage. Most everything is included in our trim level package.

The Sorento gains standard leather seating in EX trim, while the LX V6 now comes standard with a third-row seat.

From the outside, the Sorento lacks the visual pop of Kia’s other products, such as the stylish Soul and Optima. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it may widen the Sorento’s appeal to more mainstream buyers. Step inside the Sorento and it’s a different story. The interior simply outshines the competition with an elegant design, rich materials and fabric choices–such as white-on-ebony leather–features usually reserved for more expensive luxury models.

In addition to its ability to carry seven passengers, the Sorento’s fuel economy and horsepower are near the top of its class. And its pricing undercuts just about everything comparable. The Sorento also comes with a 5-year/60,000-mile vehicle warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty that is virtually unmatched. And for those who feel strongly about buying American, it will come as welcome news that the Sorento is built at Kia’s plant in West Point, Georgia.


  • Powerful 4-cylinder engine
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Low price
  • Impressive standard equipment list
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick


  • Side curtain airbags don’t cover the third row
  • No blind spot warning system
  • Somewhat sedated and boxy exterior styling

YouTube Preview Image Video: Edmunds.com Review

Comfort & Utility

Kia packs a lot of utility into the Sorento, giving it an available third-row seat and 60/40 split folding, second-row seats. Although the third-row seat expands passenger occupancy to seven, it’s really only suitable for young children. With the third-row seat in the up position, the Sorento’s generous 37 cu ft of cargo space dwindles to around 9.1 cu ft.

On the comfort side of the equation, the Sorento exceeds expectations. Base LX models are nicely equipped with such standard features as a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, USB interface and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity. The EX trim adds dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8-way power driver’s seat, fog lamps and a backup camera. Move to the top-of-the line SX and you’ll get full leather seating, Kia’s navigation radio and a 10-speaker 550-watt Infinity audio system. Options for the Sorento include all-wheel drive, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, an air-cooled driver’s seat, power folding side mirrors and a panoramic glass moonroof.


Powered by Microsoft, the UVO information and entertainment system allows voice control of Bluetooth-enabled cell phones as well as a portable music devices like an iPod or iPhone. Add the available navigation system and you’ll enjoy SiriusXM Traffic free for three months (after that, you’ll need to pay for a subscription). SiriusXM Traffic uses the navigation system to alert you of approaching traffic problems. If there’s a delay, the navigation can be used to calculate a new route around the jam.

Performance & Fuel Economy

The Sorento’s standard engine is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder good for 175 horsepower and 169 lb-ft of torque. Available only on the LX, this engine may help the Sorento achieve a low starting price, but it won’t do much to help move it along when fully loaded. A better choice is the 2.4-liter GDI gasoline direct injection 4-cylinder (optional on the Sorento LX, standard on the EX), which bumps horsepower to 191 and torque to 181 lb-ft. GDI technology boosts horsepower while also offering better fuel efficiency. Fuel economy for the 2.4-liter is rated at 21-mpg city/29-mpg highway (front-wheel drive) and 21/27 mpg (all-wheel drive). The GDI changes those figures to 21/30 mpg and 20/26 mpg, respectively.

The Sorento’s 3.5-liter V6 is available on the LX, EX and SX models. With 276 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque, this engine has the muscle to move a loaded Sorento with ease. Yet its fuel economy figures of 20-mpg city/26-mpg highway are not far below the 4-cylinder’s figures. The all-wheel drive (AWD) model attains slightly lower marks of 18/24 mpg.

No matter which engine you choose, it will be connected to Kia’s electronically controlled Sportmatic 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. Those who opt for the AWD option will get a full-time on-demand system with a lockable center differential that’s useful when driving slowly through heavy snow or light off-road duty.


The 2013 Kia Sorento offers a full complement of standard safety equipment, including electronic traction and stability control, 4-wheel ABS, front seat side-impact airbags, first- and second-row side curtain airbags (the third-row seat is not protected) and Hill Start Assist to keep the vehicle from rolling backward when pulling away on a steep grade. The Kia Sorento is also an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick, getting top marks in the frontal offset, side impact and roof strength crash tests.

Driving Impressions

Despite its size, the Sorento rides and drives like a midsize sedan. With its wide track and independent front and rear suspension, the Sorento delivers a smooth, controlled ride. Excessive body lean was observed only during extreme hard cornering maneuvers. The Sorento’s unobtrusive stability control allows for somewhat sporty driving. But when the road gets rougher, we did notice more noise and impact harshness than in comparable SUVs. We also found that the Sorento’s steering wheel feels a bit heavy to turn, and its suspension favors the softer side of the spectrum. If you’re looking for an SUV with a firmer suspension and a sportier attitude, we suggest the Ford Edge or the Mazda CX-5 (though neither offers third-row seating).

We’re not big fans of the standard 2.4-liter’s performance, but we do like the GDI version, which offers better off-the-line acceleration and passing power. The Sorento’s 3.5-liter V6 not only ups performance but also increases the maximum tow rating from 1,650 to 3,500 pounds.

Other Cars to Consider

Dodge Journey: The Journey offers more room for its third-row occupants and can match the Sorento’s feature and content offerings. But the Sorento gets better fuel economy and has a more powerful 4-cylinder engine.
Ford Edge: The Ford Edge has a more buttoned-down feel to it, with a sportier ride and an available turbocharged engine; however, the Edge doesn’t offer a third-row seat option, and its pricing starts well above the Sorento.
Toyota Highlander:  The Highlander holds its value better than the Sorento, but a comparably equipped model costs a bit more and doesn’t offer as good a warranty.

The Bottom Line

Step up to the SX or Limited models from $35,850 and $38,850 respectively, and AWD can be added as an option to all trim levels for an extra $1,700.
All in, the 2014 Sorento is a decent SUV. Though undeniably improved, it doesn’t look it, and that could be its biggest drawback. Continuing to be a strong value package with checkmarks in both the plus and minus columns, in a sea of attractive new offerings the Sorento fails to deliver any wows.


  • Engine: 3.3L V6
  • Power: 290 HP / 252 LB-FT
  • Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
  • MSRP: $31,700 (base)

Posted in Expert Reviews, Feature Articles, Kia |Tags:, || No Comments »

2011 Kia Sorento EX 3.5 Review – A Lot More Than Meets the Eye

Tuesday May 25th, 2010 at 3:55 PM
Posted by: berrichondanny

2011 Kia Sorento

By Danny Chang


  • Third-row seating
  • Good power & decent MPG
  • Great backseat AC
  • Panoramic sunroof


  • Narrow cabin
  • Temperamental iPod jack
  • Slightly harsh ride

After seeing Kia’s TV commercial for the Sorento that features the oversized stuffed animal monkey with freaky button eyes, an orange one-eyed monster, a teddy bear, and the robot daydreaming about cruising around town having a blast, I’ve been curious about this SUV. Is it really that much fun that toys dream about driving this thing around town and getting mom tattoos sewn onto their stuffed animal arms? I wondered. I thought about renting a monkey suit to drive the Sorento around town, but quickly realized that I don’t have the budget to do so.

Driving Impressions

Even without the monkey suit, the Kia Sorento EX has a 3.5L V6 that pumps out 276 horses and 248 lb-ft of torque which was actually very decent for this 3,896-lb. SUV. Get-up was good and I felt like a champ merging into traffic on the 280 in the morning. High-end acceleration was also good as I passed up those suckers on my way to the carpool lane. Life is good. Steering feel is solid and the SUV handled well at highway speeds as well as at 35 MPH down Main Street in Los Altos. The ride was smooth for the most part with an occasional creak from the rear of the vehicle. The view out of the side of the vehicle was less than ideal, since the C pillar is pretty darn thick.

Read the rest of this entry »

page 1 page 2

Posted in Expert Reviews, Kia |Tags:, , || 2 Comments »

Latest Reviews

Select a Category