By Jason Allan
KBB Expert Rating: 7.8
Having undergone a more extensive update than its mildly refreshed exterior would suggest, the 2014 Kia Sorento is now an even more appealing package for tech-minded shoppers who want 3-row flexibility but not the bulk of a typical midsize SUV. But the Sorento is also available in a 2-row configuration, making it a viable alternative to 5-seat SUVs like the Ford Edge, too. In either case, the 2014 Kia Sorento offers more features for the money – including a leading-edge infotainment offering – with little to no compromise in overall refinement. Similarly sized competitors include the Dodge Journey and Mitsubishi Outlander, but the Sorento is the clear winner in that race. That's why we named it one of the 10 Best SUVs Under $25,000 for 2014.
If you like the idea of maximizing your infotainment and seating capabilities while keeping vehicle size and price in check, you're going to like the more refined, mostly new 2014 Kia Sorento.
If you need three rows on a regular basis, or need room enough for six or seven people and more than a couple duffel bags at the same time, you'll probably be better served by a more traditionally sized 3-row vehicle.
KBB Expert Ratings
Kia says more than 80 percent of the parts in the 2014 Sorento are either all-new or redesigned. The net result is an SUV that looks a little different but feels significantly more refined, and offers an impressive set of convenience and infotainment technologies, including the new UVO eServices system.
What the 2014 Kia Sorento gives up in interior volume to its larger competitors, it gains in everyday maneuverability. The Sorento is seven inches shorter than a Honda Pilot, with a shorter wheelbase and tighter turning radius, making the Kia easier to navigate into and out of the many parking spaces it's likely to visit on a daily basis. Out on the road, the Sorento's new 290-horsepower V6 and smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission combine to deliver responsive, seamless acceleration. Our very first taste of the revised Sorento included a 6-hour drive from Arizona to California, and at no point did highway ride or seat comfort elicit a second thought. Powertrain and structural enhancements were a big part of the Sorento's upgrade for 2014, and the result is a crossover SUV that drives with a sense of refinement comparable to some of its best competitors.
In addition to a bunch of other cool infotainment capabilities – many of them voice-activated – Kia's next-gen UVO system leverages your smartphone to automatically call 911 in the event of an airbag deployment, and lets you send a navigation destination from your computer to the car.
As part of its new electric power steering system, the 2014 Sorento includes a FlexSteer feature that lets the driver select between Comfort, Normal and Sport steering modes. Comfort mode feels the least artificial, making small corrections easier and mitigating some of the compromise of efficiency-enhancing electric steering.
Interior highlights from the well-equipped 2014 Kia Sorento models we've driven include small touches like a leather transmission selector boot, unexpected features like an LCD speedometer, retractable 2nd-row window shades, and a huge panoramic moonroof. Combined with a next-gen level of refinement for Kia, you'll have a hard time finding a nicer interior for the money. The Sorento definitely gives up some passenger and cargo room to just about every other 3-row SUV worth considering, but a rear seat that slides, reclines and folds down in 40/20/40 sections adds valuable flexibility. The optional third row is best reserved for little ones.
If not for the new taillights, it'd be hard to distinguish the 2014 Sorento from its 2013 predecessor. But the front end has been redesigned, too, and there are a number of neat upgrades all around. The headlights now offer an LED design element, the exterior mirrors will fold in at the push of a button, and the exterior door pockets light up to welcome you back at night. Stepping all the way up to the SX Limited nets xenon HID headlights, unique 19-inch wheels and red brake calipers, but even the base models have a finished look that includes 17-inch aluminum wheels.
A base model 2014 Kia Sorento LX starts at $24,950, including destination, with a 4-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive and two rows of cloth seats. Standard feature highlights include Bluetooth and USB phone/audio connectivity, air conditioning, cruise control, and steering wheel-mounted controls. Outside, alloy wheels, body-color side mirrors and LED taillights help the entry-priced Sorento present about as well as pricier trims. The full complement of electronic and inflatable safety equipment is also standard.
A 2014 Kia Sorento SX stickers at $38,550 with a V6 engine and all-wheel drive, leather seats (heated and cooled in front), three rows of seating, a panoramic moonroof, keyless entry and touch-start, blind-spot monitoring, and the full UVO eServices infotainment setup including an 8-inch touch-screen display, navigation and a 10-speaker Infinity audio system. For another $3,000 you can step up to the SX Limited, with softer Nappa leather, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and a handful of exterior touches.
Because the 4-cylinder engine isn't markedly cheaper or more efficient than the V6, and because the V6's 290 horsepower is a lot to feed through only the front wheels, we recommend the 2014 Kia Sorento with its new V6 engine and all-wheel drive. The all-wheel-drive system features a locking center differential for especially difficult conditions, and incorporates a new Torque Vectoring Cornering Control system that further enhances drivability. All Sorento configurations offer the same 6-speed, manually selectable automatic transmission.
191 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
181 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/26 mpg (FWD), 19/24 mpg (AWD)
290 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
252 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg (FWD), 18/24 mpg (AWD)
The 2014 Kia Sorento starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $24,950, and climbs to just shy of $42,000 for the Nappa-leather-clad SX Limited specialty trim. That upper end sounds like a lot of money for a Kia, but the 2014 Sorento is a lot of car, both in features and refinement. Kia's dramatically improved resale values only bolster the Sorento's already impressive value proposition.