While vying for a market share against the well-touted Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota Highlander, the unheralded 2017 Kia Sorento counters with equally high overall marks. It has an extraordinary list of standard features and industry-best safety ratings.
The Sorento was redesigned in 2016, so this year’s model is largely a continuation of the new generation except for a few technology tweaks. The midsize SUV is available in L, LX, EX, SX and SX Limited (SXL) trims. The SX and SXL include the other trims’ features and several upgrades: The SX features heated seats and steering wheel, push-button start and a power liftgate.
My weekly driver was the top-line SXL trim with all-wheel drive and a third row of seats. It’s packed with features from all of the other trims. But it also has Nappa leather seats, heated second-row seats, and a surround-view monitor. The quality of the interior material and the craftsmanship are surprisingly plush for the segment.
While some of my test mileage in city driving showcased the new Sorento’s strong maneuverability, most of the nearly 1,000-mile review mileage occurred on the open road. It was a round-trip haul from Sacramento to Los Angeles and included long high-speed stretches on Interstate 5 and Highway 99.
The highway driving allowed for the frequent use of Kia’s keen safety features, including Advanced Smart Cruise Control. Available in three pre-set distance options, the feature astutely and seamlessly adjusts your cruising speed to match the vehicle ahead of you. It marks the end of having to tap on the brake or readjust your cruising speed while utilizing cruise control.
The Sorento’s safety considerations go further. The Lane Departure Warning System tells the driver if they’re drifting out of a lane. There’s also the Blind Spot Detection System. It tells the driver when there’s a vehicle is its blind spot.
Despite its super comfort, strong safety features and overall manufacturing quality, the Kia Sorento may still find it difficult to infiltrate the top sales plateau in its class. But it deserves more attention.
Quiet, smooth drive.
Quality interior craftsmanship.
Versatile and easy-to-configure second-row seats.
Five-star NHTSA safety ratings.
Some navigation system functions are misleading.
Sensitive technology warning notifications.
Expensive top-line trim.
Facts & Figures: 2017 Kia Sorento
Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 7.8 seconds.
Fuel economy: 17 mpg (city), 23 mpg (highway), 19 mpg (combined), six-speed automatic transmission.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $45,700.00.
Manufacturer’s Website: www.kia.com.
Price As Tested: $46,595.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/ 100,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.
What Others Say:
“There is a marked sense of sophistication in the 2017 Kia Sorento’s ride. Even top-of-the-line models with their big 19-inch wheels manage to soak up bumps without harshness.” — edmunds.com.
The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:
“If there’s any remaining public notion that Kia represents a cheap alternative or isn’t worthy of consideration, the 2017 Kia Sorento erases those sentiments. It’s the real deal and a worthy challenger for the top-sellers in its class.”
Article Last Updated: November 29, 2016.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.