The Kia Sorento is a mid-size crossover with proportions befitting all-wheel capability and three-row capacity. Although all-new in 2016, the Sorento remains a fashionable and features-oriented choice.
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2018 Kia Sorento Overview
What's New for 2018
A carryover model for 2018, the Kia Sorento sees a few updates, specifically new standard equipment on every trim level. This includes a rearview camera (L); third-row seats on AWD models (LX four-cylinder); a hands-free power liftgate and power-folding mirrors (EX); and rain-sensing wipers (SX V6). Packages have also been revised for select trims.
Choosing Your Kia Sorento
Save for the 7-passenger Sedona minivan, the Sorento is Kia’s largest vehicle with standard seating for five or, if equipped, with a third-row for up to seven occupants. And seating is only one of many options available, such as engine choices – there are three. Transmission options, however, are relegated to a lone six-speed automatic.
The standard engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder which produces 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy is EPA rated at 21 city miles per gallon, 28 highway, and 24 combined for front-wheel drive models and 21/25/22 for AWD. An optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder produces 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Front- and all-wheel-drive mileage is rated at 20/27/23 and 19/25/22, respectively.
A 3.3-liter V6 is available on all but the base trim and produces 290 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque. Its fuel economy numbers for FWD vehicles, regardless of trim, are an estimated 18 city mpg, 25 highway, and 20 combined. A top-of-the-line Sorento V6 drops to 17 city mpg, 23 highway, and 19 combined.
The 2018 Kia Sorento is available in four trim levels:
Once exclusively a value brand, Kia has upped the ante on premium offerings, particularly with hot-selling crossovers. Budget-minded buyers, however, still have plenty of options. A Sorento LX V6 FWD with Convenience and Advanced Technology packages will be just shy of $34,000 but offer plenty of power, safety, and amenities. Add another $1,800 for AWD. For a similar package but with a higher-end flavor, the EX AWD with an Advanced Touring package is your best bet, and with a price tag less than $40,000.
2018 Kia Sorento Review
With seven trims to consider, choosing the “right” 2018 Sorento may depend on your budget and personal preferences. That said, we like models equipped with the powerful V6 engine, so that rules out three grades. The 3.3 EX with a starting price of $32,087 (including a $940 destination charge) is the pick of the Kia Sorento litter.
At this price point, you have a well-equipped model with keyless entry with push-button start, leather seats, dual-zone climate control, and seating for seven.
We don’t recommend stopping there either. The EX Advanced Touring Package includes a roster of driver-assist features that families will appreciate. Here’s how we would build it:
- Model:2018 Kia Sorento EX V6
- Engine:3.3-liter V6
- Output:290 hp/252 lb. ft.
- Transmission:6-speed automatic
- Drivetrain:All-wheel drive
- MPG:18 city / 25 highway
- Options:EX Advanced Driving Package ($2,900, advanced smart cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, panoramic sunroof, a power sunshade, and a 110-volt power inverter), All-wheel drive ($1,800)
- Base Price:$35,040 (including $995 destination charge)
- Best Value Price:$39,740
The standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. For this reason, dealers are not likely to stock that many. Chances are if you drive one, you’ll be asking for the other models — it simply doesn’t deliver the level of performance matching this vehicle’s size. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder comes in one grade, which delivers 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. We found that it offers a perky driving feel that effectively offsets the slight turbo lag. This engine offers peak power early on and syncs well with the six-speed automatic transmission. The main drawback here is that you can’t get a three-row configuration, so the intended audience is small.
The V6 is the clear winner here, in part for the four trims it's available on, but mostly because it performs well under a full load. It also pulls up to 5,000 pounds when equipped with the towing package. It matches what most competitors offer as the V6 is the segment’s go-to engine. Credit the six-speed automatic, standard across the model line, with being a well-tuned companion here. That said, the V6 is rather thirsty – the 2.0-liter provides a better balance between performance and fuel economy.
Interior and Exterior
Front to back, the Kia Sorento is one of the most stylish models in this class. You’ll receive forgiveness if you confuse it with an Audi or Mercedes-Benz. Its grille is prominent, but not dominant. Tasteful levels of chrome add a finishing touch to a body with soft sculpting. The cabin is spartan on the base trim, but quickly picks up on higher models with finer materials a bit further up the trim walk. Leather, soft-touch materials and metal pedals provide this model with flair and distinction.
Seating is very comfortable in the first row, but we found the second-row seats could use more support. As for the third row, legroom is quite limited, so consider those two seats ideal for young teenagers.
We like the Sorento’s comfortable, quiet and well-controlled ride, which is well damped and better than the previous model. The UVO telematics system supplies a brief learning curve and is one of the best units on the market. We also like Kia’s navigation package, but were at home with the included Apple CarPlay smartphone integration (Android Auto is also included) for our directions.
The Best and Worst Things
The Sorento’s upscale look and feel is quite impressive, easily putting it on par with the Buick Enclave and providing a worthy point of comparison to models from Acura and Audi. We just wish Kia offered a third-row option with the EX 2.0T, what would supply a compelling alternative to the V6.
Families needing the space and utility of a crossover and available all-wheel drive not found in most minivans. The standard 5-seat capacity may be fine for some, but why not opt for the third-row...just in case?
Crossovers still aren't the best choice for hardcore hauling duty. Lucky for Kia fans, the automaker also makes the Sedona minivan, offering room for eight along with amazing cargo space.
The Bottom Line
Attractive looks, three rows of seats, and a wide range of price points make the 2018 Kia Sorento a tempting option for consumers with big and growing families that aren't willing to accept the all-conquering capability of minivans.
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