The 2015 Kia Sorento is a vehicle that's family sized, albeit modestly so. At around 184 inches long, riding on a wheelbase of 106.3 inches, it's shorter than most mid-size sedans, although there's plenty of room for five passengers in the base configuration. Get the available third-row seat and you'll have space for two more, but they'll need to be quite small.
Last year the Sorento didn't look much different on the outside, but it went through a quiet transformation inside and underneath. Kia claimed that the refreshed Sorento was 80 percent new, with modest improvements in legroom for those in the second and third rows, as well as dramatic improvements to interior trim and the dash layout.
What hasn't changed is that Kia provides a very good driving position and passenger space in front. With good bolstering and wide cushions, as well as good adjustment range to the steering column, it's easy to find a comfortable position. No hard points make contact with the redesigned center stack of the dash, and the footwells are mostly flat. Step up to higher trim grades like the SX, and you get power adjustment, heating, and ventilation--all touches that have become increasingly common in today's premium SUVs but are still relatively rare in affordable models like this.
Passenger space in the second row is only habitable, although the Sorento doesn't have the twin captain's-chairs layout of the similar Hyundai Santa Fe. The bench seat does adjust to flex leg room between the second and third rows, and by Kia's reckoning, there's more than an inch of additional leg room behind the front seats--we think, primarily, from redesigned seats. The second-row bench has available heaters for the outboard positions (which also recline), and it's split 40/20/40.
As for the optional third-row seat, it's purely a kid zone. By interior volume, the 2015 Sorento is considerably smaller than any of the bigger three-row utes--the Pilot, the Ford Flex, and the Chevy Traverse--and it shows in the rearmost row, which has minimal head and leg room for even small adults. There's less than 10 cubic feet of space behind it for cargo; although if you keep that row folded down, as most are likely to do anyhow, that rises to about 36 cubic feet.
Thanks to last year's thorough rework inside, the cabin delivers a much stronger impression of quality than before; and that extends to noise levels as well. There's just a little tire noise audible from the back (the third row especially), while powertrain noises are nicely subdued on V-6 models and the materials are a finer grade, particularly on the pricey SX-L.