• Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross
  • Image Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross

Vital Stats

Engine:
3.3L V6
Power:
290 HP / 252 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Automatic
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,965 LBS
Seating:
2+3+2
Cargo:
72.5 CU-FT (max)
MPG:
18 City / 25 HWY
Base Price:
$26,500
As Tested Price:
$40,795
For most new car shoppers, three-row crossovers are little more than a way for the family-minded to avoid succumbing to the minivan stigma. Admit it – the only things that differentiate most larger CUVs from minivans are their lack of sliding side doors and – on most of them – the option of all-wheel drive. Having blossomed into a popular segment with thicker profit margins, though, automakers have plenty of incentive to keep their offerings fresh, and that's exactly why Kia is presenting its 2014 Sorento so soon.

At first glance, the crisply styled utility vehicle seen here appears to be nothing more than a mid-cycle refresh – and not a particularly extensive one, at that. But that's not the case at all. Despite looking very similar to the second-generation vehicle that came on the scene for the 2010 model year, this is an all-new Sorento. Or, more precisely, it's about 80-percent new. Kia says less than 20 percent of the parts have been carried over from the 2013 Sorento, and that's a pretty typical amount for an 'all-new' vehicle generation.

Since we've yet to spend quality time with the "Made in the USA" Sorento for more than a short First Drive in Arizona last February, we snagged the keys to a 2014 model in the all-new SX Limited trim level for a lengthy backroad meander from Florida to South Carolina.
2014 Kia Sorento2014 Kia Sorento2014 Kia Sorento

This third-generation 2014 model brings subtle changes that help make for an even better-looking crossover.

The second-generation Sorento helped inaugurate an entirely new design language for Kia upon its introduction in late 2009 as a 2010 model, and this third-generation 2014 model brings subtle changes that help make for an even better-looking crossover. These improvements include LED daytime running lights and vertical foglights up front, while horizontally oriented LED taillights add a much cleaner look to the Sorento's posterior than the outgoing model's square-shaped, honeycomb units. Overall, these modest improvements have given the 2014 Sorento a more mature and upscale appearance, but the changes are subtle enough that you could be forgiven for mistaking one generation for the other. Despite being a new model, we hear a substantial exterior update is in the near-term pipeline, so if you'd like some more visual differentiation, you might want to wait a while.

For the moment, though, it isn't until the hood is opened that you will start to appreciate just how new this Sorento really is. Front and center in the engine bay is the Sorento's new 3.3-liter, direct-injected V6, a slightly downsized engine that replaces the 2013 model's 3.5-liter mill. You can still opt for the base 2.4-liter four-cylinder, but this smaller engine is only offered on the lowest LX trim. Regardless of engine choice, all 2014 Sorentos are shifted with a six-speed automatic. The new V6 is definitely the way to go, as its 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque offer plenty of pep and surprising acceleration for the almost-two-ton Sorento.

2014 Kia Sorento2014 Kia Sorento2014 Kia Sorento2014 Kia Sorento

The official EPA rating ... is an unimpressive 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

Unfortunately, while the 3.3-liter V6 brings an incremental power increase of 14 hp and 4 lb-ft over the preceding V6, it does come at the expense of fuel economy. The official EPA rating for front-drive V6 models like our tester is an unimpressive 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, decreases of 2 mpg on the urban cycle and 1 mpg on the superslab. In an effort to see the small-town sights, we made the entire trip from north Florida to western South Carolina with minimal interstate travel, and we averaged 27.2 mpg for the entire 782-mile journey, getting as high as 28.1 mpg for a good portion of the trip. Interestingly, the Sorento's fuel tank capacity is down slightly (about a half gallon), but we still managed the whole trip on less than two tanks of gas.

Just behind the engine, sharp eyes will note some added plastic in the engine bay. This plastic covers the new strut tower support brace, which is perhaps the most visible indication of how far Kia has gone to improve the structural integrity of its new model. Kia says it has stiffened the Sorento's chassis by 18 percent, and, in the real world, this translates to a smoother ride with more confident handling. The Sorento has long offered a ride and handling balance that favors the firm and sporty, and while this continues to be the case, the word "rough" will no longer be used to describe its ride quality. Larger speed bumps are still enough to rattle some molars, but all other road surfaces and imperfections are absorbed ably by the suspension for a hassle-free driving dynamic.

2014 Kia Sorento

Sorento's cabin looks similar to last year's model, but is in fact very different.

Another big change for 2014 is the addition of electric power steering with the driver-selectable modes found on many Kia and Hyundai models. The system allows drivers to tailor steering effort to suit their taste, but it doesn't alter the ratio or improve road feel, which remain weak points. In a few instances, we found the Sorento's steering to be a little jerky, but we don't see the average CUV buyer being put off by the system's lack of feedback.

Like its exterior, the Sorento's cabin looks similar to last year's model, but is in fact very different. The most noticeable change is a redesigned center stack and center console with a larger touchscreen infotainment display, a concentrated organization of buttons and controls and a T-handle shifter that feels like it was pulled from a luxury car. That attention to detail is also evident in newly rubberized soft-touch knobs for the audio and HVAC systems. The front seats would prove to be plenty comfortable for our road trip, and in addition to offering heat and ventilation functions for front occupants, there is now an additional 1.2-inches of rear legroom to go with the sliding and reclining 40/20/40 second-row seats. The third-row seat (a $1,000 option), is still intended for smaller occupants, but one nifty feature back there is the separate control for rear HVAC fan speed. Another interesting detail about the Sorento that buyers with babies will love is the LATCH anchors built into the front seat brackets for the tethers of rear-facing car seats. As befits a family-first vehicle, they are very useful and make it much easier to install child seats quickly and correctly.

2014 Kia Sorento2014 Kia Sorento2014 Kia Sorento2014 Kia Sorento

Spending six hours strapped into any car is a good way to learn its strengths and weaknesses.

Spending six hours strapped into any car is a good way to learn its strengths and weaknesses. Minor gripes include a driver's seat bottom that won't lower enough and window switches that feel a little too far back on the driver's door panel, but our biggest complaint could be the Sorento's newest cabin tech. On all but the base model, the Sorento now comes with a seven-inch TFT display, but its level of customization is disappointing. This screen provides great resolution for vehicle information, audio and navigation functions, but the majority of the TFT's real estate is used to display an analog speedometer with no ability to customize the layout. Other additions for 2014 that are appreciated include manual rear side window shades, a programmable power liftgate and a redesigned panoramic roof with a single, power-retractable shade and smaller cross support for a more open viewing experience.

Following in the footsteps of its popular Optima sedan (as well as its newer Cadenza and K900 models), the 2014 Sorento has also added this new range-topping SX Limited model, which comes at a $3,300 premium over the Sorento SX's price and is only offered in a limited color palette – black, silver or pearl-effect white. The true benefit of the SXL package is on the inside, where the Sorento adds Nappa leather seats, dark wood trim, heated second-row seats and soft-touch, suede-like headliner and pillar trim. This package also brings 19-inch chrome wheels and red brake calipers. We think the latter looks a bit aftermarket-tacky, and the bigger wheels conspire to make the same-size brake rotors look a bit undersized.

2014 Kia Sorento

Our 2014 Sorento SXL came with an as-tested price of $40,795 – that's without optional all-wheel drive.

Of course, such luxury doesn't come cheap. Taking a giant leap up from the Sorento LX V6's $26,500 base price, our 2014 Sorento SXL came with an as-tested price of $40,795 (with delivery and destination) – that's without optional all-wheel drive. At that price, you're looking at close to an even swap with CUV offerings from some prestige brands, though most of them will be smaller and offer far less equipment.

More importantly, the Sorento is somewhat of a middle-ground CUV, as it's larger than vehicles like the Honda CR-V, Ford Edge and Toyota RAV4, yet it's smaller than other three-row crossovers like the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, Nissan Pathfinder and even its platform-mate, the Hyundai Santa Fe. Indeed, it has a smaller footprint than those vehicles, but it's also substantially lighter and quicker, while offering interior measurements that aren't completely out of the hunt, either. As third-row seats often go unused in these vehicles and cargo bays aren't always full, we like the idea of this easier to drive, easier to park tweener size.

Regardless of which crossover you buy, as enthusiasts, it's still hard for us to get too excited about any of these three-row vehicles. However, it's also hard to argue with them as practical, comfortable family transportation. The 2014 Sorento delivers all of the goodies buyers expect from a family-friendly utility vehicle, and it does it with improved styling and refinement in a well-sized package. Toss in the all-new SX Limited trim level, and buyers now have a whole host of new reasons to consider the Georgia-built Sorento.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 73 Comments
      AudiA4
      • 1 Year Ago
      They seriously stuffed a 3rd row in that thing? I guess if it fits, but it looks like it really doesn't.
        joegorowyourboat
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AudiA4
        There's a third row in the new 4 Runner too. If you count seatbelts, it seats 7. If you actually try to put people in it, it seats 4.
        Fonin
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AudiA4
        they've been offering 3 rows since the last design, we went 2 row and got additional storage under the rear cargo that would have been occupied by the folding seats. 2nd hip room is pretty good, but still only seats 5.
          joegorowyourboat
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Fonin
          I sold Toyotas from 2002-07, so I know that the Rav4, Highlander and 4Runner have all tried the 3rd row thing to varying levels of success. The Hughlander had to get bigger and wider to do it as the first gen was laughable leg room with the 3rd row. The Rav4, well... The Rav4 no longer has the option, enough said. As for the 4Runner, the new one has a tighter seating configuration than the previous generation and it shows in the back seats and 3rd row.The previous model had fold up jump seats, this one has fold into the floor seats. Both have pros and cons, but the space in a 4runner is not enough for a 4rd row that can be used by people. Kids that could fit, woulf still need booster seats which makes another step for you when you want to fold them down. At the end of the day the Sienna is such a sold seating configuration, if you need 7 seats the minivans comfort can't be matched until you consider full-sized SUVs like the Sequoia, Tahoe, Expedition etc.
      Karfreek
      • 1 Year Ago
      \"For most new car shoppers, three-row crossovers are little more than a way for the family-minded to avoid succumbing to the minivan stigma. Admit it – the only things that differentiate most larger CUVs from minivans are their lack of sliding side doors and – on most of them – the option of all-wheel drive\" The only people who think a 3-Row CUV can offer the flexability, roominess and conveinence of a MiniVan are those who are in denial. We traded our large 3-row CUV for a Minivan when we finally accepted that we were parents with an active family and now wonder why we did not do it sooner. Todays mini-vans are not the vans of the 80s.
      FIDTRO
      • 1 Year Ago
      "The official EPA rating ... is an unimpressive 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway." That's what you get when you hire "engineers" that are better at lying than at engineering.
        Rob J
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FIDTRO
        Which is funny because in this road test, they exceeded the EPA numbers. So you LITERALLY have it ass backwards.
          Bruce Lee
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rob J
          That's not what literally means dude...it's in fact the opposite of what literally means.
        ffforte
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FIDTRO
        It seems like your are equating engineers with liars. Putting engineer in quotes does not negate the insult to a reputable and honorable profession.
      hboi18
      • 1 Year Ago
      40k and it does not even have AWD...what the hell...your better off getting a almost fully loaded acura RDX or lexus or something damn Kia...
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        GR
        • 1 Year Ago
        They are a different class, buddy. The KIA rival to the CX-5 would be the Sportage, not the Sorento. The Sorento is closer to the CX-9, Highlander, Pathfinder, etc. Also, stop using drugs.
        Gorgenapper
        • 1 Year Ago
        Really? But pie cake asphalt brings the chewing gum. In which case, silver moonlight speeds over the laughing bridge. Therefore your North American Anna Silk Army Troopers becomes green apple classic India spice.
      imm
      • 1 Year Ago
      $41,000 for a Kia Sorento ??????????? Thanks but no thanks :(
      bK
      • 1 Year Ago
      Too much for what its really worth.
      48Chevy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Most of the reviews of this thing talks about how stylish it is. I've tried to see it in that light, but, it just comes off as a perfect compliment to Toyota's Camry, right down to the "missing piece" tail light design. Give me a Flex or Durango. They not only look better, but, drive with more feeling, plus, you can spin the rear tires of the Durango.
      NightFlight
      • 1 Year Ago
      Comments are +7 in less than 50 minutes after being posted? Sounds like the H/K trolls are here.
      knightrider_6
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why aren't they using the 8 speed gearbox? Does it really cost too much over the 6 speed one?
        aquaticko
        • 1 Year Ago
        @knightrider_6
        The 8-speed auto Hyundai uses has so far only been available in RWD cars, so I'd imagine that it'll be a while before they start using it in FWD chassis like the Sorento's.
      HUMANMPC2000
      • 1 Year Ago
      KIA is really moving upmarket pretty fast now. 40k for this is a joke no other way to say it !
      zoomy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Did KIA hire ex Pontiac designers. Chrome!? This car is 10K overpriced, but I'm sure dealers are already using huge discounts as most KIAs require.
        Tyler
        • 1 Year Ago
        @zoomy
        How is this 10k overpriced? This is a fully loaded model, its right in line with the competition.
    • Load More Comments
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