We've always considered the Kia Sorento to be an easy compromise for buyers who can't decide between a compact and midsize crossover. This year's full redesign pushes it even further toward to the senior end of its class. By offering such a deep range of models, Kia has positioned the new Sorento as both a typical compact and a credible alternative to slightly larger, premium-branded vehicles.

Pricing and Equipment

The Sorento covers acres of market territory with five trim levels that start with the $24,900 L and top out with the $41,300 SXL.

You'll still have to pay $1,200 for third-row seating on the $25,234 LX, but that's included as standard equipment, along with a bigger engine, if you upgrade to the $28,300 LX V6.

The mid-level $31,100 EX is where most buyers will find the right mix of price and features. It comes with a turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder, and also offers six-cylinder power in the $31,700 EX V6. With either, you'll get standard leather upholstery and an upgraded climate control system.

It's a big price leap to the $37,900 SX V6, the turbocharged $39,900 SXL, and the SXL V6, but all are equipped like true luxury SUVs.

All-wheel-drive is available for about $1,800 on all trims except the base L. If you want seven-passenger seating, you'll need to choose a V6 model, where it's standard, or the LX, where it's optional; it can't be ordered at all on other four-cylinder Sorentos.

Performance Pros

The 2.4-liter four-cylinder makes 185 horsepower, which is actually above average for a base engine in this class. With 240 horsepower on tap, the 2-liter turbo (new this year) is fully capable of moving the Sorento smartly, even under full load. The 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 provides snappier pickup off the line, but otherwise doesn't affect performance much. All engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Selectable driving modes (Sport, Normal, Eco) allow the driver to tweak transmission performance and steering effort.

Performance highlights include:

  • Steering/handling: With this year's updated suspension and firmer body structure, the Sorento's road manners are even more poised and confident than we expected.
  • Turbo power: The new 2-liter turbo provides quick bursts of power with a minimum of disruption.
  • Towing: A V6 Sorento with all-wheel drive can pull up to 5,000 pounds, tops among all compact crossovers.

Performance Cons

  • Although all models have a Sport driving mode, the Sorento doesn't offer much in the way of driving enjoyment.
  • You would expect the V6 to offer smoother performance, but transmission downshifts can be jarring with this engine.

Interior Pros

  • The Sorento looks and feels far more sophisticated inside thanks to top-notch materials and a reimagined dashboard.
  • You get up to 74 cubic feet of cargo space, enough to make the Sorento fully competitive with midsize crossovers.

Interior Cons

  • The second sits rather low, not at all what we expect in a family-style crossover.
  • The optional third row is clearly intended for children, and you might need a shoehorn to get them out once puberty hits.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

The upper-trim interiors are not only refined but downright elegant. Pry the Kia emblem off the steering wheel, and a leather-appointed Sorento could easily pass for an Acura.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

All of the Sorento's social climbing comes at a price. You have to spend more than $30,000 to move off the base engine, and we could forgive anyone who busted out laughing at the sticker on loaded V6 model.

The Bottom Line

The Sorento isn't the crossover it used to be, which is a terrific thing in all aspects except price.