The Kia Sorento was new just a couple of years ago--but for 2014 it's being re-engineered pretty extensively under the skin. Will the changes just bring it up to date--or is it ready now to tackle the best-selling seven-passenger crossovers?
Kia says the Sorento is 80-percent new, but it doesn't look all that much different than before. It's only a fraction of an inch longer and wider, and the overall shape's stayed the same, except for LED taillights and a good-looking grille.
Where it's visibly changed the most is inside, with a redesigned interior, better seats, and a better grade of interior materials. The front seats provide a good driving position along with plenty of passenger space, and the redesigned center stack leaves knee room untouched. We also really like the flat footwells, and the soft-touch stuff all over the interior--it's best on the SX-L, where Nappa leather covers the seats.
Move back to the second row and you'll find the space just as habitable as the front, with plenty of knee and leg room. And while the rear seat does slide fore and aft, you can't option for twin captain's chairs like you can in the Hyundai Santa Fe.
The optional third-row seat is what we'd call a kids-only zone. This may be a three-row crossover by interior volume, but it's a lot smaller than three-row SUVs like the Pilot and the Pathfinder. There's not much room behind the third-row seat, either--just 10 cubic feet when it's in use.
Under the hood of the Sorento you'll find one of two engines. The base engine is still a four-cylinder rated at 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. Those figures are a bit lean for a 3,600 pound vehicle. The near mandatory engine is the new 3.3-liter V-6 rated at 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. The most fuel-efficient Sorento is the four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive model with a 20-mpg city rating and a 26-mpg highway rating. Those numbers will drop to 18/25 mpg if you opt for the V-6.
Safety scores aren't in yet, but the Sorento's performed well in the past. It has side-curtain airbags, but we should point out they don't cover the third-row seat. New on the options list is a blind-spot monitoring system.
Base prices have risen about $4000 since it was new in 2011, but the Kia Sorento is still a good value. A base Sorento LX starts from just over $24,000 and has power features, 17-inch wheels, a USB port and Bluetooth. A rearview camera and Kia's UVO infotainment system are available. Stepping up to the $30,000 EX model adds a V-6 engine, and a 7-inch LCD screen in the gauge cluster which doubles as a secondary navigation screen. Step up to the $35,000 SX model and you get 19-inch wheels, a massive panoramic sunroof, navigation, and an Infinity audio system. A fully loaded SX-L model is nearly $40,000 and includes Nappa leather seats, a wood-trimmed heated steering wheel, and heated rear seats.
So what's the bottom line with the 2014 Kia Sorento? The mid-life lift has fixed the Sorento's niggles while brightening up the cabin and softening the ride.
For more information be sure to read our full review of the 2014 Kia Sorento here.