If you’re in the market for a mid-size crossover with three standard rows, few do it better than the 2021 Kia Sorento. The new Sorento offers much of the same charm as the larger Telluride – rugged good looks, a great drive, and a premium cabin – but in a smaller and slightly more affordable package.
Kia also offers multiple variants of the Sorento, including two gas-only options and a hybrid setup, plus an available X-Line package for when the going gets tough. Plus, the Sorento offers the latest in Kia’s expansive safety suite and technology. In our first test, the crossover scored an admirable 9.4 out of 10, which was good enough to make us want more.
To find out if the Sorento can keep us charmed for longer than a week, we added a 2021 Sorento X-Line to our long-term test fleet. We’re excited to live day-to-day with this SUV and go on some adventures along the way. And now here’s a little more on the vehicle we’ll be doing that in.
How We Spec’d It
Opening up the Sorento’s configurator, there is no shortage of options to pick from. The folks at Kia were nice enough to let us build this car from the ground up, so we did just that. Depending on budget, there are tons of different ways to spec the SUV with a price ranging from about $30,000 to $48,000 with every option and accessory added.
To get the full impression of what the Sorento can offer, we opted for the highest-trim SX Prestige model, which carries a starting price of $40,590. From there we wasted no time loading up the SUV with options to build what we think is the ideal model. The upgraded turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder comes with the SX Prestige, but we decided to add on some hardware to go with it.
Our tester has the $2,000 X-Line off-road package which also brings all-wheel drive, a center-locking differential, and a one-inch lifted ride height. Opting for X-Line also tweaks the exterior styling (for the better) with 20-inch matte finish wheels, roof rails, and slightly revised front and rear fascias. Up against the Everlasting Silver paint job, our Sorento looks about as tough as a three-row crossover can. While we wanted the enhanced styling, we chose an X-Line model to take it through some light off-roading trails – more on that soon.
To contrast our car’s dark and moody exterior theme, we chose to brighten up the interior with the Rust Interior Package. For $200 atop the X-Line package, this (horribly named) option covers the seats in gorgeous caramel brown, diamond-stitched upholstery. During a photo shoot with the Sorento’s pricier Genesis GV80 cousin, we realized that the leather looked very similar in both vehicles.
At the SX Prestige trim level, the Sorento brings its interior A-game with heated and ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, and a massive panoramic sunroof. There’s a robust tech suite to play with too, including twin 12.3-inch displays and a Bose audio system. Finally, the Kia features Highway Driving Assist, which packs adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and a surround-view camera monitor.
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The First Few Thousand Miles
We’ll have much more to come with our test car soon, but the initial report on Sorento X-Line is a good one. In everyday commuting, we’ve grown to love the upscale cabin, using its heated and ventilated seats often, along with the very impressive Bose audio system. Passengers given high marks to the second row, too, with many likening the Kia to a luxury brand.
Strangely, our favorite thing about the SUV so far is its powertrain, which feels robust for a vehicle this size. Passing on the highway is a total breeze, and there is never a shortage of power to hinder the driving experience. And while the standard engine or the hybrid would undoubtedly do better on mileage, we’re observing 23 miles to the gallon in mixed driving conditions. So far, we think the turbocharged engine is the way to go, giving us the best of all worlds – as well as more torque than the larger Telluride’s V6.
Our biggest complaints so far are a weird mash-up of things, which mostly have to do with the Miami summer and how the Sorento handles it. The big panoramic glass roof is a fun feature when it’s overcast, but during any relatively sunny day, far too much heat makes its way into the cabin. Even shutting the full-length sunshade only partially solves that problem. And on the topic of climate, there are only two HVAC vents on the center console for the rear-seat passengers – and they’re very far from anyone seated in the third row. This means that keeping the air conditioning on high is an absolute must to prevent those in the way back from roasting.
Look for more details on daily life with the Sorento in the coming weeks, including a video review, road trip report, comparison test, and much more. Also, be sure to follow along @motor1com on social media to see the latest on every car that we test.