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It’s no secret that Kia has stepped up their game where quality and comfort are concerned. And with six trim levels to choose from, it’s likely there’s a version of this midsized, three-row, seven seater for nearly any budget. So, how does this top of the heap Sorento SXL measure up in such a competitive segment?



From the outside, the Sorento looks good. It’s conservative and well-proportioned. The chunky hood lends an air of gravity to the front end and makes the car look slightly nose heavy and even minivan-ish from some angles. The B and C pillars are blacked out to give the illusion of one large window along the side of the vehicle. It’s nice to see that KIA’s design team hasn’t gone with some iteration of the floating roofline that’s so popular today.


19″ chrome wheels don’t look oversized on this car thanks to the high window sills. The back of this car looks especially well thought out. The transition between the quarter panels and the rear hatch’s curved glass is a smooth one. Oversized tail lights bookend a relief in the “hands free” liftgate that looks like it could have been borrowed from a Lexus. The clever liftgate opens automatically after three seconds if you stand next to it.



Inside, the Sorento is clean and classy. The heated and cooled front seats are trimmed in Terracotta colored Nappa leather. They are as comfortable as they are handsome. The console and controls are logically arranged and there’s an eight inch touchscreen in the dash. The touchscreen is a display for everything from the Harman Kardon stereo, to the navigation and surround view monitors.

The SXL’s navigation interface is easier to use than many of the systems in other vehicles. Apple Carplay and Android Auto come standard on all Sorentos. Bluetooth connectivity and multiple charging ports make it convenient to stay plugged in.


The second row seating is spacious enough for adults and is car seat capable. It’s probably safe to assume most Sorentos will see service hauling kiddos. It’s nice to know there’s room for them and all their kiddo accessories too. If a road trip is on the agenda, the panoramic sunroof makes seeing the sites even easier.


As is the case with many mid-sized SUVs, the third row seating is cramped. It should be reserved for little ones and adults who are adept at yoga. There are airconditioning controls available to third row passengers so they’re not crowded and hot. The second and third rows fold flat to create an open cargo space.



The Sorento SXL has a 290 hp 3.3 liter V6 mated to an eight-speed automatic that will scoot the car to sixty in about seven and a half seconds. The transmission is not as crisp as the offerings from other brands. For nearly 300 horsepower I expected a little more when I flat-foot the accelerator.


Steering feel is good and the ride is smooth. There is noticeable body roll in the curves, but it’s not out of hand and it can be forgiven because this is an SUV after all.  The ride is a little noisy for a vehicle in the SXL’s price range. And the power delivery is a little coarse and underwhelming from the V6 and it only gets 24 miles per gallon on the highway.


This car with these options will set buyers back $47,480. That’s comparable to other similarly optioned SUVs in its class. However, lackluster fuel economy and somewhat grainy driving characteristics make it a questionable value at this trim level. That said, should anything go wrong with it, Kia’s 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty can’t be overlooked.

The base model Sorento L starts at $26,000. It has a more efficient engine, Apple Carplay, third-row seating and the great warranty. This could be the better value. Relative to previous Kias, this marks a level of comfort and sophistication that many would have doubted Kia would obtain.

In such a competitive segment the Kia Sorento can’t just be a good Kia, it must be good value too. When optioned up the way this one is, it feels like it’s a little too closely priced to the competition for what it delivers.




Aaron V Starnes
Aaron V Starnes

Car guy, small business owner, award-winning writer and proud papa.