3/4 Front Glamour 2014 Kia Sorento
MPG 18 City / 25 Highway
Pros
  • Low price
  • Easily configurable interior
  • Strong acceleration
  • Reasonably good fuel economy
Cons
  • Aging design
  • Strong competition from rivals
, Automotive Editor -
The notion of a Kia as a superior manufacturer will certainly gain traction as buyers check out the new Sorento.

Introduction

Automotive makeovers are often skin-deep, but the Kia Sorento takes the opposite approach for 2014. Exterior styling looks the same—save for a slightly revised nose and tailights—but almost everything else has been redesigned or replaced. Contrary to first impressions, it's a whole new generation of the midsize crossover, right down to the stiffened chassis.

Speaking of underpinnings, the front suspension is totally new, and Kia beefed it up at the rear. Both handling and ride comfort benefit from the revised setup. The Sorento's available all-wheel drive now features a torque-vectoring system for greater control in corners. Electric power steering with selectable assist replaces the old hydraulic unit. And drivers have a choice of three assist settings: comfort, normal and sport.

Last year's base four-cylinder and 3.5-liter V6 have been broomed from the roster. The formerly optional 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 191 horsepower is now standard. And there's a new 3.3-liter V6—with 290 horsepower and direct injection—sourced from Hyundai. The V6 is standard on upper trim levels, but any Sorento can have it. Kia also offers a 194-horsepower four-cylinder turbo-diesel in some markets, but it's uncertain whether that choice will make it to the U.S.

The cabin feels more refined this time around with richer materials than those used on the outgoing Sorento. However, as with the exterior, the overall look is not appreciably different. The optional navigation system includes an eight-inch touchscreen that also interfaces with Kia's suite of smartphone apps, dubbed UVO eServices. Other available features include an Infinity audio system, power liftgate with customizable height adjustment, panoramic sunroof, and ventilated front seats. Auto trivia fans take note: the Sorento is the first Kia vehicle to offer a blind-spot monitoring system.

It's also the first Kia to flirt with the $40,000 mark. Although the Sorento starts modestly enough at $24,100, its four trim levels cover a lot of market territory, reaching $38,000 for the plush SX Limited—roughly the price of three Rio hatchbacks. That shouldn't come as too much of a surprise since Kia launched a Limited version of its Optima sedan last year.

Which Style To Buy?

2014 Kia Sorento
Starting price
$29,077
Shopper Popularity
14%

2014 Kia Sorento EX V6

Recommended for: Buyers who want generous standard equipment and a few key options.

The mid-level EX V6 aims to provide ample comfort and convenience without inducing sticker shock. Leather trim is used on the steering wheels, shift knob and seats, which also feature front heat and driver power. You also get dual-zone climate control, a seven-inch LCD screen, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, and push-button start. The exterior benefits from 18-inch wheels, fog lamps, illuminated door handle pockets and a rear spoiler. For safety, the EX carries a rear display camera and backup warning system.

The optional Touring Package adds a number of upgrades throughout: blind spot detection, programmable power liftgate, power folding outside mirrors, Homelink arrival and entry system, ventilated seats with driver memory and passenger power, eight-inch display navigation with Sirius traffic, UVO eServices apps suite by Microsoft, 10-speaker Infiniti sound system, second row sunshades, panoramic sunroof and chrome roof rails. The last two features are also available as stand-alone options. A third-row seat bundled with rear air conditioning is available with the Touring Package, boosting seating capacity to seven.

2014 Kia Sorento
Starting price
$23,867
Shopper Popularity
31%

2014 Kia Sorento LX

Most Popular
Recommended for: Price-conscious buyers who don't mind a four-cylinder.

The entry-level LX carries a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 191 horsepower, last year's middle engine which is now standard. All of the expected safety and convenience equipment is included, plus a few useful touches like a fuel-economy indicator and heated outside mirrors.

Aside from its mandatory 17-inch wheels, the LX is a highly scalable vehicle. Virtually all of the standard equipment on the EX (and most options) can be added to the LX in packages or individually. Buyers who need to be judicious in their spending will appreciate the ability to get everything they need and nothing they don't on the LX.

2014 Kia Sorento
Starting price
$25,430
Shopper Popularity
15%

2014 Kia Sorento LX V6

Recommended for: Buyers whose top priority is ample power.

The LX V6 is the cheapest route to 290 horsepower in a Sorento. The 3.3-liter's output is among the best for this class of crossover. All that extra oomph provides substantially better all-around performance, especially when ferrying passengers and gear. For family hauling or weekend excursions, it's the logical choice.

The V6 carries silver-finish roof rails and offers a 115-volt power inverter. Otherwise, it's nearly identical to the four-cylinder LX in terms of equipment and options.

2014 Kia Sorento
Starting price
$35,700
Shopper Popularity
9%

2014 Kia Sorento Limited V6

Recommended for: Buyers in the market for an entry-luxury crossover.

The best equipped Kia in history, the Limited V6 takes aim at whole new market for the brand. Every convenience and luxury you can get on the lesser models is included here, plus several exclusive features: HID xenon leadlamps with self-leveling feature, 19-inch chrome wheels, premium Nappa leather upholstery, second-row heated seats and heated steering wheel with genuine wood trim. It's an impressive package for a Kia that—combined with the new V6—takes the Sorento into premium company.

2014 Kia Sorento
Starting price
$33,563
Shopper Popularity
9%

2014 Kia Sorento SX V6

Recommended for: Buyers who want (almost) everything in a midsize crossover.

A notch below the luxo Limited, the SX takes all the available features of the LX and EX models and makes them standard. That means you get niceties such as a panoramic sunroof, Infinity sound, display navigation and a programmable power tailgate. The SX then adds 19-inch wheels with machined finish, driver-selectable steering assist, front and rear stainless steel accent plates, chromed exhaust outlets, LED tail lights, stitched dash visor and illuminated stainless door sill plates.

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