As we approach the one-year milestone for our 2014 Kia Sorento SX long-term loan, we're reminded of the Korean crossover's attributes and satisfying features. From its high-quality interior to its quiet, comfortable ride, the Sorento has proven itself to be a front-runner in terms of amenities, reliability and, perhaps most importantly, value. But as with any vehicle on the market, the Kia Sorento isn't without its share of flaws.
Next to our smartphones or computers, cars are among the objects that we interact with most on a daily basis. And while there are many features that have made life with the Sorento pleasant and convenient, we also have a few pesky items that we'd change if we could.
For starters, it's always handy to be able to walk up to a car and touch the door handle to unlock it. Though the Sorento doesn't lack an easy-access feature (on the front doors, at least), the setup requires pressing a small black square on the outside of the door handle -- not the easiest arrangement, especially when you're holding groceries in your arms, but it's still a convenience, nonetheless. The rear isn't equipped with the feature, which can make loading the back seats a bit of a pain when your hands are otherwise occupied. The power lift gate works effectively as advertised and can be opened using the key fob. However, the increasingly common hands-free option (like Ford's kick-activated tailgate) would be a welcome addition to the Sorento.
Inside the cabin, the Sorento delivers a satisfying experience for the driver and passengers. But if we could change anything about the interior, we'd start with a few of the driver/vehicle interfaces.
Blind spot monitoring is a worthwhile feature and one we'd rather not do without. However, the Sorento's system cannot be activated without an auditory accompaniment to the flashing light embedded inside the side mirrors. While the light is a quick and easy way to discern if there's someone in your blind spot, it will illuminate only when either turn signal is activated, which, unfortunately, discourages use of the turn signals if you're easily annoyed by the beep. At least the blind spot monitoring system remains in the off position upon engine restart when left there.
The navigation system, while generally intuitive and easy to use, automatically adds upcoming exits on the right side of the screen when directions have been entered; making the screen go to full-map mode requires tapping a virtual button twice. This isn't a deal-breaking feature, but it would certainly be more understandable if the system remembered the user preference and didn't default back to its standard setting each time the engine was switched off.
When it comes to driving dynamics, the 2014 Kia Sorento SX has been an inoffensive companion during city driving, longer road trips and those rare occasions when we drive more aggressively than you might traditionally do in a crossover. However, we wouldn't mind more power from the Sorento's V6: Heavier off-the-line torque would make stoplight sprints more satisfying, and we suspect having more mid-range power on tap might even improve fuel economy, since we wouldn't feel the need to floor the accelerator pedal while passing.
As happy as we've been with the Sorento's generous options list, we also wouldn't mind the addition of adaptive cruise control, which makes driving in traffic considerably less stressful.
In the End
Don't be misled by our quibbles. We've been quite satisfied with our long-term Sorento -- surprisingly so, considering our earlier preconceived (and apparently unwarranted) notions about the Korean brand.
Is the Kia Sorento a perfect crossover? Certainly not -- and neither is any car, for that matter. But based on how relatively minor our complaints are, we'd say it's an impressive offering that deserves strong consideration amidst the world's top crossovers -- praise that speaks more to how far Kia has come than it does to how much room the brand has for improvement.