First Drive: 2014 Kia Sorento

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Category: DriveApart

The Drive

Sorento was already a decent-driving SUV, and it's even better now with the new engine. Kia claims to have improved overall vehicle stiffness by 18%, which has added a new crispness to the ride. Four wheel independent suspension (struts in front, multi-link in rear) and stabilizer bars deliver a pleasantly controlled ride. If I have any complaint about Sorento's ride, it would be the slightly numb steering feel. Kia switched over from hydraulic power steering to electric power steering this year, and it could use some fine-tuning.

Acceleration from the new engine is satisfactory. My test vehicle had the V6, which would be my engine of choice for Sorento. There's very little fuel economy penalty versus the smaller four-cylinder engine, and a modest (about $1,600) upcharge. If you're going to be towing, you'll appreciate the additional 100 horsepower.

2014 Kia Sorento
2014 Kia Sorento (interior)

The Good

  • New engine technology delivers more power and efficiency
  • Exterior styling upgrades make a nice SUV even nicer
  • Decent tow rating for the V6
  • Hill hold assist standard
  • Elegant interior

The Bad

  • Tow hitch only available as a $400 option
  • No trailer sway control
  • Numb steering
  • Fuel economy is not class-leading
  • Cargo load floor isn't completely flat when seats are folded
2014 Kia Sorento
2014 Kia Sorento (seats)

Price

Sorento LX starts at $24,100 with front-wheel drive and the four-cylinder engine. Add $1,800 for all-wheel drive. Sorento LX V6 is $25,700 with front-wheel drive, $27,500 with all-wheel drive. Additional trim levels include EX, SX and SX-L. The top of the line SX-L AWD is $40,100.

My test vehicle was a 2014 Sorento EX, base price $31,800 - $36,550 as tested. As always, Kia has built Sorento with a surprising amount of standard features, making the value proposition a pretty good one.

Verdict

Mid-size SUVs are in a no-man's land in the marketplace right nowcompact SUVs are hot, as are genuine seven-seaters. But as a genuine light-duty towing vehicle that has to also perform as a daily driver, mid-size is a class you don't want to overlook. Sorento doesn't have the class to itself, by any means. Right across the corporate sibling aisle is the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport (built on the same production line in Georgia). Toyota's Highlander, Ford's Escape, Subaru's Forester and others claim similar towing chops and come in at comparable prices.

Kia has carved a niche with attractive exterior design, a generous set of features and an improving reputation for reliability (not to mention a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty). Sorento might not be a heavy-duty towing option, but it's a very good option for many tow/haul jobs.

DriveApart Rating: 8 out of 10

Continue Reading: 2014 Kia Sorento Images >>

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