Written by Tim Marsh:
Kia really got something right when they redesigned the Sorento in recent years, if the vehicle’s popularity is any indication. In ‘SUV-mad’ North America, it has become the brand’s most popular vehicle, which is certainly no small feat. Not content to rest on its laurels, however, the Korean automaker has elected to go deeper than a third-year refresh and has made a significant effort into redesigning and improving its now-flagship crossover for 2014.
The Sorento comes in three trim levels, the first of which is the entry Si. The SLi adds 18-inch wheels, leather seats, reversing camera, and an upgraded interior and stereo. Finally, the top-of-the-line Platinum gains sat-nav, a panoramic sunroof, smart-key entry and start system, heated and vented seats, and privacy glass among other improvements.
Exterior and Style
Everything from chassis to sheet metal has been revisited and iterated upon – the front and rear get stylistic tweaks, of course, while the chassis is substantially changed and reinforced for improved interior room and drive quality.
The Sorento is certainly not a flashy vehicle, which has never been Kia’s style. Instead it retains the smooth, clean design that has served as one of its distinctions since the 2011 model with a few reworked areas, especially in the front and rear fascias and low bodywork. These changes make the Sorento look lower and wider, giving the vehicle a more aggressive stance.
Interior and Comfort
One of the most significant overhauls in the 2014 Sorento comes on the inside. Gone are many of the inexpensive-looking plastics of previous years, replaced with finer soft-touch materials and metallic accents. While some surfaces – mainly the dash – are still cast in hard plastic, the Sorento’s cabin has begun to feel like a mid-level, near-luxury vehicle rather than an affordable entry crossover. The seats themselves are not the most comfortable in a modern vehicle, they are certainly an improvement over the crossover’s previous versions.
While it is dimensionally smaller than many of its competitors, the Sorento offers comfortable seating for 5 (and feasible seating for 7, with an optional third row). While the third row in any vehicle is rarely advisable for daily use, this one is certainly handy in an emergency.
Under the Bonnet
The Sorento is available with either a 6-cylinder 3.5L petrol or a 4-cylinder 4.4L diesel engine. Maximum power in the petrol is 204kW at 6300rpm with peak torque of 335Nm at 5000rpm and combined 9.8l/100km fuel economy. The diesel pushes 145kW/421Nm with a more economical 6.6l/100km.
The petrol variant is a front-wheel-drive only while the diesel gets the coveted 4X4.
The usual array of stability control, ABS, and airbags is utilised to ensure passenger safety under all driving circumstances. Options include rearview cameras, blind-spot monitors, and parking sensors to ensure that urban parking is easy and safe as well.
Aside from those features, driver’s seat visibility is good as both front and rear pillars stay out of the way of essential lines of sight.
On the Road
Power in the Sorento is certainly nothing to be excited over, as performance is simply not a priority in the Kia. Chassis and suspension improvements in the 2014 model have improved ride quality and handling in order to enhance the driving experience. In particular, a stiffer body structures makes the Sorento more willing and capable through corners and over rough patches in the road.
Value for the Money
The entry Si petrol model can be had for a 2014 Kia Sorento price less than $38,500, while the diesel 4X4 maintains a remarkable sub-$40,000 price tag. Even the top-of-the-line Platinum diesel maxes at $50,390, creating a significant value for those looking for a well appointed, affordable SUV.
Kia’s Korean rival, Hyundai, offers a quite similar vehicle in the Santa Fe that nearly mirrors the 2014 Kia Sorento price as well ($37,990-$51,490). However, several 2014 Kia Sorento reviews and comparisons indicate that Kia’s vehicle is better equipped. The Toyota Kluger lacks a diesel variant and will cost $44,990 for a model with four-wheel drive, limiting its appeal for those who have need of either feature. Mazda’s CX-9 offers comparable features and – some say – superior performance, but owners pay for that benefit as CX-9 models cost between $5000 and $10000 more than comparable Sorentos.
The Kia Sorento’s new overhaul improves upon an already impressive and well-equipped package. A strong model lineup and sharp styling give the Korean wagon value, style, and capacity at affordable prices that deserve a very close look.
About Tim Marsh:
Tim Marsh, author of New Cars Plus’s Car Reviews and Blog, has been covering the car beat for the last 8 years. Tim specialises in finding the best deals on wheels and offering advice on making your car last.
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