2014 Kia Sorento, new look, better ride for underdog SUV

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Introduced in 2002 into an increasingly crowded market, the Kia Sorento is an unheralded mid-size sport utility vehicle now in its third generation. The 2014 model has been designated with a “facelift” status. But the manufacturer lists more than 30 new additions, including increased horsepower and new interior and exterior styling.

As an underdog, Kia competes for a market share by offering a lot of variety in its vehicles. For 2014, the Kia Sorento is available with 2.4-liter GDI (LX, EX) and 3.3-liter GDI V6 (optional in LX, EX; standard in SX and SX Limited).

The 2014 Kia Sorento is new inside and out
Newly designed 2014 Kia Sorento. All images © James Raia/2013

It’s the diverse trims that Kia uses as the reason for promoting the Sorento with the campaign titled: “It has an answer for everything.”

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The Weekly Driver Test Drive

I drove the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Kia Sorento, but missed the 2013 model. The 2014 version immediately prompted the same impression as previous offerings: Why is this car so unknown? It offers the unique combination of a quiet ride, third row of seating and nimble handling for its segment.

The EX model, my weekly driver, had 290 horsepower, surprisingly quick acceleration and a carlike ride. It also combined functionality and good looks with a cavernous cargo area.

The new exterior design was complemented by an attractive interior and a substantial list of standard safety features.

Kia engineers did a superior job matching a utilitarian SUV (the second row of seats fold flat individually or in unison for a cave-like amount of space) with a carlike drive. The driver and front passenger sit high and in comfort.

Like many SUVs, the practicality of the Sorento is diminished by poor gas mileage. The 3.3-liter V6 receives an estimated 20 mpg combined (18 mpg city/24 mpg highway). And it’s difficult to consider any long-haul trips in the Sorento at $4 gallon.

But there’s a catch: The new Sorento also has a good selection of features that more vehicles should have as standard equipment and that work so well. The Sorento EX model I drove have one option, the Touring Package ($4,000).

That’s far from cheap, but the package included a superb navigation system, Infinity sound system, ventilated front seats, blind spot detection, four-way power passenger seat, panoramic roof with power sunshade, memory driver’s seat and mirrors, power folding outside mirrors and power liftgate.

The eight-inch navigation offered a terrific visual presentation and, like the navigation system in Hyundai, its efficiency and use options are among the best in the auto industry. It’s not worth the option package price by itself, but combined the features are worth it and bring the Sorento to a new level in the SUV market.

Likes:

Quiet ride.

Easy rear seat fold down and third-row option.

Industry-best warranty.

Easy-to-use, great features in navigation system.

Extensive standard features list.

Side mirror blind-spot detection system.

Two-sided (rubber and cloth), multi-use rear cargo mat.

Dislikes:

Poor fuel economy.

Sound system only adequate.

Facts & Figures: 2014 Kia Sorento

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, unavailable.
Airbags, 6.
First aid kit: Not available.
Fuel economy: 18 mpg (city), 24 mpg (highway), 20 mpg (combined), six-speed automatic transmission.
Government Safety Ratings: NHTSA, Not rated.
Horsepower: 290.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $31,700.00
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.kia.com
Price As tested: $36,550.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/60,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“The Sorento is still one of the best-looking SUVs on the market; its appearance is improved with the availability of 19-inch wheels, which complement the lower-trim 17- and 18-inch wheels.” — CarandDriver.com.

“The 2014 Kia Sorento is now an even more appealing package for tech-minded shoppers who want 3-row flexibility but not the bulk of a typical midsize SUV.” — Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com).

“Looking like a pill bug, the squat body of the 2014 Kia Sorento hides seating for seven, an economical engine, and an easy driving character, making it the perfect mobile bunker for the modern suburban family.” — CNET.com

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“The SUV market is flooded with options, and with all its new offerings, the Kia Sorento is moving closer to the front of the pack.”

 

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