UPDATE 10/28/21: This assessment has been up to date with take a look at outcomes.
Kia faces a formidable problem with the launch of its redesigned fourth-generation 2021 Sorento SUV, which involves market on the heels of the Korean model’s immensely profitable and 10Best-winning Telluride crossover. But, whereas each SUVs compete in the identical mid-size, three-row phase, the marginally smaller Sorento makes a compelling case with its enticing design, extra inexpensive pricing, and a various vary of powertrains that features two fuel engines, a hybrid, and a plug-in hybrid.
The brand new Sorento might not have the identical daring type because the chunky Telluride. However its chiseled traces look handsomely trendy and set off its extra outstanding styling particulars, such because the hexagonal sample in its grille and its eye-catching LED taillights. A $2800 X-Line look package deal is obtainable on all-wheel-drive SX fashions; it provides a model-specific roof rack and entrance and rear bumpers together with quite a few extra options. The X-Line can also be obtainable in a fetching Aruba Inexperienced coloration that pairs properly with the Sorento’s non-compulsory brown leather-based inside.
Whereas we have solely pushed well-equipped SX fashions to this point, we’re impressed with the design and materials high quality of the Sorento’s cabin. Its faux wooden trim is convincing, its quilted leather-based upholstery is mushy, and its shapely door panels characteristic enticing stitching and plush armrests. The dashboard’s abundance of air vents can look busy, however the SX’s crisply rendered 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system sits inside straightforward attain of the motive force, and the local weather controls are easy to function. Lesser LX, S, and EX fashions have a smaller 8.0-inch touchscreen with wi-fi Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, however surprisingly the SX’s bigger display requires you to plug your cellphone in with an old style USB cable with a purpose to entry these options.
With a wheelbase that is 3.4 inches shorter than the Telluride’s, the Sorento is nearer in dimension to two-row mid-size crossovers such because the Honda Passport, but the Kia comes normal with a questionably helpful third row of seats. Lodging in the way in which again merely aren’t snug for adults, with restricted stretch-out house and a low backside seat cushion that forces your knees up towards your chest. Plus, we solely match two carry-on suitcases in its cargo space with the third row raised versus the 4 we match within the Telluride’s aft maintain. If we owned a brand new Sorento, we might in all probability go away the third row folded till we completely wanted to ferry extra riders for brief distances. Decrease trim ranges have a second-row bench seat and seven-passenger capability, however larger trims are restricted to 6 riders with their second-row captain’s chairs.
The Sorento provides 4 powertrain choices, together with a base 191-hp 2.5-liter inline-four, a turbocharged 2.5-liter 4, a hybrid that pairs with a 1.6-liter turbo 4, and a plug-in hybrid with a bigger battery pack that allows a claimed 32 miles of electrical vary. We have pushed the non-compulsory 281-hp turbo 2.5-liter up to now, and we loved its responsiveness and clean energy supply. We additionally reviewed the hybrid individually.
Though the Sorento’s non-compulsory turbo 4 (EX and SX fashions solely) is considerably uncommon in a phase the place naturally aspirated V-6s stay the norm, that the engine mates to an eight-speed dual-clutch computerized transmission is much more unconventional. Kia claims that this setup permits faster shifts and higher gas financial system. Certainly, the two.5-liter turbo’s 24-mpg EPA mixed estimate for an all-wheel-drive mannequin is an identical to the determine for an equal Sorento with the considerably much less highly effective naturally aspirated engine and standard eight-speed torque-converter computerized.
We did discover a slight lag in throttle response when ranging from a cease with the dual-clutch, however the transmission in any other case carried out easily and unobtrusively. We measured a comparatively swift zero-to-60-mph time of 6.3 seconds for the turbocharged mannequin, which is faster than the Telluride and on tempo with many V-6 opponents. We estimate that the naturally aspirated Sorento might be roughly 2.5 seconds off that tempo.
In comparison with the floaty experience and dealing with of the previous-gen Sorento, the brand new mannequin feels significantly extra strong and planted on the street. Whereas the brand new mannequin’s 0.84 g of grip round our skidpad and 70-to-0-mph braking distance of 173 ft had been each an identical to a 2019 mannequin we examined, the brand new automotive rides extra confidently. Even massive bumps produce little noise from the suspension and minimal vibrations by the steering wheel. The tuning of the first controls additionally is way improved, with properly weighted steering and a agency brake pedal.
Beginning at $30,565 for a front-wheel-drive LX mannequin and ranging as much as $43,765 for a top-spec all-wheel-drive SX Status X-Line, the Sorento prices lower than the bigger Telluride, which begins at $33,415 and may high $50K with choices. Given the Telluride’s presence and wonderful packaging, it stays a extremely tempting possibility amongst three-row utes. However the brand new Sorento is enticing in its personal proper. For smart buyers who do not want its bigger sibling’s further dimension (and value), Kia’s newest mid-size SUV has so much to supply.
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