Change comes from inside: the 2014 Kia Sorento's classy new cabin proves that talk-show talking point rather succinctly. It's the obvious shift in the new Sorento, much more so than the sheetmetal, which looks about the same as last year's model.
The Sorento cuts a more rugged profile than most of the crossovers of its size. The SUV flavor isn't as faint as it is on a Highlander, or even a Santa Fe, or as overplayed as it is on the Honda Pilot. It's simply drawn, minimally detailed, and only mildly altered this year, with new front and rear ends and some trim at the sills to give it a little more mass. The taillamps are LED-lit now, of course, and the grille is either bright like metal, or a more intense black mesh on the Sorento SX.
Kia's designers saved their energy instead for the cabin. It's relieved of most of the inexpensive-looking plastics that worked well enough for the past few years, and covered in finer, soft-touch materials, polished off with thin, spare metallic trim. The center stack's been reshaped to fit a bigger LCD screen for models equipped with navigation, and the gauges are recast so that an LCD screen will fit there, too, at least on more expensive models. The woodgrain trim still comes down on the inauthentic side--as does some of the real wood we've seen on other crossovers lately--but there's a substantial feel to the cabin now that matches the Sorento's silent creep in price over the past few years.