The Kia Sorento has come a long way; originally a rough and ready 4x4, the latest version saw it ditch its body on frame for a crossover design that allowed for both a smoother ride and more interior space, including 3rd row seating. Well 3 years later, it’s time for a mid-cycle refresh. But, that wasn’t enough for Kia. This 2014 Sorento is virtually all-new as Kia felt it still had a ways to go. So, let’s see just how far it does.
Though technically a mid-cycle re-fresh that doesn’t look that much different than before, the 2014 Kia Sorento mid-size crossover arrives with 80% new parts.
So, what’s with all the change? Well, one of the biggest complaints of the outgoing Sorento was ride comfort and handling. Kia has attempted to address that with an updated chassis borrowed from the recently launched Hyundai Santa Fe. That new chassis is stiffer and has an all-new H-shaped sub-frame up front with a new suspension bolted to it and a strut tower brace added on top. Rear suspension hardware updates include new bushings and mounts to help quell road noise.
The GDI 2.4-liter I4 carries over and is more than adequate unless you plan to tow. For that you should opt for a new direct-injection 3.3-liter V6. It delivers 290-horsepower and 252 lb-ft. of torque very smoothly; and a still modest 3500 pound tow rating. Both four and six are paired with an equally smooth 6-speed automatic transmission. Front wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel-drive available on all trims.
Not much has changed inside, but you will find updated gauges with a 7-inch LCD info screen on EX models and above. The UVO infotainment system features a bigger touchscreen and improved voice command with its already very intuitive interface.
As before, the Sorento is available in both 5 and 7-passenger versions. In the 7-seater access to the third row is far from the user friendly, and once you get there room is small child-size at best. The second row, however, delivers lots of room and comfort with available heated seats and panoramic sunroof thrown in to sweeten the pot. Cargo space is quite good for a mid-size utility at 36.9 cubic-ft. behind the second row and 72.5 with it folded.
To sum up our take on the interior, the environment is not exactly upscale, but it’s quite inviting, very well put together, and fairly versatile.
The least change is on the exterior. Tweaks are relatively minor; with the front fascia a bit more aggressive thanks to larger openings and squared off fog lamps pushed to the corners and LED’s added to the headlights.
In back, the rear fascia gets widened a bit in an attempt to give the Sorento more presence. But, most other body lines are as before. Base wheels are 17-inch alloys, while our SX tester rides on 19’s.
So all in all, it’s a good looking urban crossover outside and in, with definite street smarts, if little in the way of off road intentions.
With the new chassis maintaining the same 106.3 inch wheelbase as before, we were pleasantly surprised after a few runs through our handling course. Compare to our 2011 test, this Sorento is far more capable of darting through cones and corners. Enough so that steering now seems slow, and the still too-much body roll more apparent.
Straight line performance of our V6 is more than adequate, with a strong tug off the line, even if not exactly exhilarating once you get rolling, as shifts come late. Still there’s a nice sporty exhaust note that helps give it an overall sporty feel. Fitting as the 7.2-seconds that it takes to reach 60 and 15.9 to run out the quarter mile at 90 miles-per-hour are stronger than most rival CUVs. Braking doesn’t add much sport, however, as a soft pedal and some brake fade kept our average at a just adequate 130-feet from 60.
Driven in daily commute mode, most will find the new Sorento to be a good companion that’s gotten quieter and a little more substantial feeling then before, as well as more aware of what’s around it, as this will be the first Kia with available Blind Spot Detection.
Even with a more powerful V6, Government Fuel Economy Ratings are unchanged at 18-City, 24-Highway, and 20-Combined with all-wheel-drive. Our mixed driving netted a decent average of 21.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular. And that makes for a just average Energy Impact Score, with 16.5-barrels of oil consumed yearly with CO2 emissions of 7.4-tons.
Sorento pricing begins with the base 4-cylinder LX at $24,950; but for a well-equipped V6 with all-wheel drive you’ll be looking mid-to-upper 30s.
With this many updates, most brands would consider it an all-new model. For Kia, the 2014 Sorento is just another page in their book of continuous improvement, and further proof of their commitment to be a serious player in just about every automotive segment. It’s a great update; not enough to make the Sorento exceptional, but one that does make it a very good, budget-friendly choice for many families.
Engine: 3.3-liter V6
Torque: 252 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.2 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.9 seconds @ 90 mph
EPA: 18 mpg city/ 24 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 16.5 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 7.4 tons/yr