Hey, didn’t I just review one of these? Seems like it. But that was eight months ago and that was the 2013 Sorento, and this is the new 2014 model which has brought some improvements to the table.
I reviewed the SX trim, which is the top of the line. It’s loaded to the gills and there are no options available.
2014 KIA Sorento
Base price (SX trim): $40,595
Options: $200 paint colour charge
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $42,560
Though the Sorento’s side profile remains relatively unchanged, that’s a good thing. It’s a very nice shape that I enjoyed. Nothing spectacular, but it will age well and its solid, broad-shouldered stance looks good.
Walk around to the front and you’ll see where the nipping and tucking started. The SX gets a sport signature grille and there are significantly revised Xenon HID headlights with an integrated strip of LED running lights. The foglights below received a make-over too.
Head to the rear end and you’ll see that it got a big re-do as well. The new sculpted dual-depth lift gate looks great – especially when it’s augmented by the SX-trim-specific LED lightbar tail lights. They look really good at night. The whole thing is tied together with a freshened bumper and a meaty oval exhaust outlet.
While the 2013’s wheels were nice, I loved the bigger and much more handsome machined-finish 19″ rims on the 2014, now shod with 235-55 rubber.
Of note, though it’s instantly recognizable as a Sorento, the 2014 model sports a new chassis under the skin.
Under the Hood
The changes for 2014 aren’t just skin-deep. Under the hood lurks a new smaller-displacement but more powerful 3.3-litre V6. It’s rated at 290 horsepower at 6400 RPM (an increase of 14 over last year) and 252 lb.ft of torque at 5200 RPM (that’s up a hair over last year too). The power gets sent through a 6-speed automatic transmission to an all-wheel drive system.
Fuel economy is rated about the same – 11.9 L/100 km (20 mpg) in the city and 8.4 L/100 km (28 mpg) on the highway. I managed to improve my average fuel consumption, burning 14.2 L/100 km (17 mpg) during my week with it. This was a very typical week for us – commuting, occasional freeway driving and one quick highway run.
The Sorento’s interior is a very nice place to be. The overall styling of the dash remains similar to the previous model. Although I was disappointed to find no soft-touch plastics anywhere on the dash, the materials have wonderful visual textures and are very nice to look at. The fit and finish was excellent throughout the vehicle and there were no rattles or creaks at any time.
The leather seats – both heated and cooled (last year’s only allowed the driver to have his royal behind cooled) and both power adjustable – are very comfortable and actually provide a bit of bolstering too. There is a 2-position driver side memory setting as well.
The heated steering wheel has buttons for the media system, phone, driver information system, handsfree and cruise control. Behind it is a gauge bin. The left side holds the tach, the right side the fuel and temperature gauges. The real story is what’s in the middle. It’s an extremely sharp screen – it actually took me a few minutes to realize it wasn’t a real gauge. This screen makes up a speedometer and a driver information screen in the center. You can access your media information, navigation system, vehicle information, fuel economy and trip meter data.
The top of the center stack holds an 8″ touchscreen – it handles your media, navigation, phone and vehicle settings. The 10-speaker Infinity sound system sounds very, very good and will play AM, FM and satellite radio, as well as CDs, USB media and Bluetooth streaming music. You’ll also find your back-up camera feed on the screen, which is augmented with audible distance sensors.
The Sorento has keyless entry and a push-start ignition. Overhead are buttons for 3 universal garage door openers, and a gargantuan panoramic sunroof.
In the back are three seats, each with a headrest and seat belt. I found the outboard seating positions (both are heated) to be very comfortable. The middle seat is narrow but would accommodate an adult if necessary. It was quite spacious back there – I could easily sit behind myself (I’m 5’10”) with good legroom and footroom. The headroom is decent, but seems even more so because of the huge sunroof that extends back past the rear passengers’ heads.
In terms of comfort and convenience, you get a 12V and a 120V household plug on the back of the center console, and there are adjustable air vents on the B-pillars. There are two seatback mesh pockets, bottle holders in the doors, manual sunshades on either side and of course the middle seatback folds down to become an armrest with a slide-out dual cupholder.
The rear seating was definitely roomy enough for our three kids – they felt quite comfy back there, and you’ll find two sets of LATCH connectors for their seats if you need them.
Storage around the cabin isn’t anything to write home about. There’s a convenient rubberized drop-in tray at the front of the center console – you’ll also find two 12V plugs and your auxiliary and USB connections there. The glove compartment is decent and there’s a nice storage bin under the armrest lid.
The cargo space is large at 1046 litres. The lift gate is powered, and operable from the dash, your key fob or the button on the lift gate itself. You can fold the rear seats down (they split 40/20/40) to make a huge 2051 litre trunk. I was quite taken aback by the enormous amount of useful underfloor storage as well. The trunk has a 12V plug and can be visually secured with a removable, retractable tonneau cover.
The updated engine provides plenty of power off the line, and I never found myself wanting any more power around town. It did have to work a bit when passing on the highway, but it still does a decent job moving this SUV around. It remains exceptionally smooth throughout the rev range, and gave the impression of great refinement.
The same can be said of the transmission. It was always smooth and shifted imperceptibly. The gears can be changed manually, but the shifts aren’t particularly quick and it’s best left in drive mode – it does a fine job on its own.
One of my biggest gripes on the 2013 model was the ride. Kia has done a great job tuning the suspension. Yes, it’s soft and rides very nicely, but it’s not so softly sprung that you’d need Gravol in the twisties. The electric steering offers three Flex Steer settings which change the steering effort required (Comfort, Normal and Sport) – I just left it in Sport. Even there, it’s a bit numb on center. Handling is fine and remains competent in any normal driving situation – there’s body roll of course, but the Sorento doesn’t seem to mind being thrown into curves.
The all-wheel drive system sends power to the rear wheels when the front ones start to slip, though our dry streets gave it no reason to kick in.
The brakes are fine, and visibility out of the vehicle is quite good – the blind spot detection system helps with your shoulder checks.
I have to say that the Sorento might be the quietest SUV I’ve driven so far. Whatever they did in terms of noise reduction worked! It’s very well done – road, wind and drivetrain noise is almost unnoticeable.
Apparently you can tow up to 3500 pounds if that’s your thing.
I liked them in the 2013 model, and they struck me as cool here too – there are stainless steel scuff plates on door sills, illuminated with a red “SORENTO” logo.
The Sorento is a very nice SUV. It competes directly with the Japanese offerings (the Toyota Highlander, the Nissan Pathfinder and the Mitsubishi Outlander) and of course its mechanical cousin, the Hyundai Santa Fe, and holds its own. It comes pretty well equipped in its base form, but this loaded SX trim really feels pretty premium in terms of the luxury, the tech and the look.
I found it to be an attractive vehicle, and give it full marks for improved road manners. It rides beautifully, performs well and wraps you in comfort along the way.
I give the 2014 Kia Sorento a 7 out of 10.
WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) was non-commital. She did like the outside styling and appreciated that they’ve now thrown in a powered lift gate, but she said it felt big on the road and wasn’t particularly enjoyable to drive for her.
Kia calls this a refresh, but they did a great job in making the improvements that matter, and the 2014 Kia Sorento is a fine vehicle and competes strongly in this class.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by KIA Canada
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