By Matt Degen
The 2017 Kia Sorento midsize SUV packs value, good looks, a load of amenities and one of the best warranties in the business. Fresh off a revamp, this crossover SUV is available in 2-row/5-passenger form or the more versatile 3-row/7-passenger setup. With three engines to choose from and pricing that ranges from around $26,000 for a basic family vehicle to over $45,000 for a leather-lined quasi-luxury SUV, the Sorento fits a wide range of budgets and needs. Kia's midsize SUV is smaller than rivals like the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer, making it less roomy but also easier to maneuver and park. The Sorento excels as a jack-of-all-trades, and continues to improve with enhancements such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
If you want a crossover SUV that's not too big, not too small and packs a lot for the money, the 2017 Sorento feels like Goldilocks. Kia's standard 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, meanwhile, could still be going strong when the kids are old enough to drive.
If you need a midsize SUV that can seat more than seven, try the Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander. Something larger still like the Chevy Tahoe may be needed if you want a family vehicle that can tow a heavy trailer or offer additional room for gear.
The 2017 Sorento is still fresh from last year's all-new model. This year's updates include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay phone integration and available autonomous emergency braking. The sporty EX 2.0 turbo model gains steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Kia has worked feverishly to improve its cars on every level, and it only takes one drive in the Sorento to see that diligence has paid off. Compared to past...
... models, the steering feels more natural in the new Sorento, and power is adequate to strong, depending which engine you choose. The V6 offers strong pull, while the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder -- available on 2-row EX and Limited models -- is a good alternative with excellent low-end power. The base 2.4-liter 4-cylinder has acceptable performance and the best fuel economy. The standard 6-speed automatic transmission is smooth and unobtrusive, and the Sorento's suspension is neither too harsh nor too soft. The new all-wheel-drive (AWD) system's Torque Vectoring Cornering Control enhances traction and cornering stability by actively apportioning power and torque to where it's most needed, helpful for traction in bad weather, and for better grip in the dry, too.
AUTOMATIC EMERGENCY BRAKING
Available on nearly every trim of the 2017 Sorento, this new safety feature does what humans can't: Keeps an unblinking eye on what's happening in front of you. Should the system sense an impending crash with no action on your part, it will apply the brakes to prevent a collision.
Kia's Smart Liftgate makes it even easier to open the Sorento's optional power hatch when your hands are full. Instead of pushing a button on the SUV's key fob, you just stand near the rear for a few seconds with the fob in your pocket, and the liftgate opens.
The 2017 Sorento can be had with seating for five or seven. Whichever layout you prefer, this midsize SUV maintains Kia's reputation for interiors that feel more luxurious than you'd think, especially on Limited models with their softer leather. All models benefit from a contemporary dash and interior design. The front-row and 2nd-row seats are comfortable, but the third row is reserved for the smallest of adults and children. Cargo space behind the third row is limited, but fold the seats down and there's plenty of room for larger items. A hidden rear subfloor on lower-trim models increases usefulness.
Is this Sorento the best-looking SUV in its class? Maybe. We like the blunt nose, and Kia's "tiger nose" grille treatment looks exceptionally good here. The new-generation Sorento's added length goes a long way to reducing the stubbiness of the last-gen model, making this one look sleeker and more modern. Base and LX models get 17-inch alloy wheels, while EX models get 18-inchers, and SX roll on big 19-inchers, which are chrome on V6 Limited models. The LED fog lights and additional chrome on Limited models make for an upscale look. Roof rails come on all but the base L model.
The 2017 Sorento is available in four main trims, plus derivatives. As expected, the base L model is the bargain play, but it does include keyless entry, cruise control, stain-resistant cloth upholstery and basic AM/FM/CD audio system with Bluetooth connectivity and a USB input. We recommend at least stepping up to an LX model, which adds a rearview camera, sound-deadening windshield, touch-screen audio display, and the ability to add more amenities via packages and the option of all-wheel drive. The Sorento's safety features include airbags all around and a slew of traction and stability-control systems.
We really like the mid-level EX trim's value. It grants Kia's UVO infotainment system with CarPlay and Android Auto, leather interior, rear park assist, push-button start, dual-zone climate control, 2nd-row window shades, power driver's seat, heated front seats and either a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine or V6. The top-line SX Limited comes loaded with what costs extra on other trims: blind-spot monitoring, panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, power liftgate, 8-inch touch screen with navigation, Infinity audio system and driving aids like lane-keep assist, smart cruise control and the new auto-braking feature. The SX Limited comes exclusively with Nappa leather trim.
Standard in L and LX models is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with 185 horsepower, 178 lb-ft of torque, and the best fuel economy -- 28-mpg highway. The standard engine in EX and Limited Sorento SUVs is the new 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, with 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. However, that engine is available only on 2-row models. Three-row EX and Limited models, and all SX models, come with the 3.3-liter V6 with 290 horsepower. A 6-speed automatic is the only transmission available. All-wheel drive (AWD) is available on all models except the base L, which is front-wheel drive (FWD) only and features a locking center differential and Torque Vectoring Cornering Control. The Sorento can tow between 2,000 and 5,000 pounds, depending on engine and drive configuration.
185 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
178 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 mpg (FWD), 21/25 mpg (AWD)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
240 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 1,450 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg (FWD), 19/25 mpg (AWD)
290 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
252 lb-ft of torque @ 5,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg (FWD, AWD LX and EX), 17/23 mpg (AWD SX and Limited)
At its least expensive, a 2017 Kia Sorento L starts with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over $26,000 (including the $895 destination charge), but the $27,595 Sorento LX is worth the extra money thanks to additional features and available options, and that's still lower than many SUV competitors like the Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer. A V6 Sorento starts just under $30,000, and the EX model with its turbocharged 4-cylinder is just over $32,000. At the top end, SX Limited models are nearly $45,000. Adding all-wheel drive is an extra $1,800 regardless of trim. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Kia. The Sorento's resale value is expected to be good, but still trail that of the Toyota Highlander.