The time has come: After a year behind the wheel of our 2017 Kia Sorento long-term test vehicle, putting it through all sorts of tests and experiencing the family crossover just like a buyer would, it’s time to say goodbye. But before we hand the keys back to Kia and return to our Sorento-less lives, we’re taking a look back at our time with Kia’s midsize SUV.
For our long-term Sorento, we chose the upscale SX version, which is near the top of the Sorento trim-level ladder, falling just short of the top-line SX Limited. Our Sorento had a sticker price of $41,495 with shipping, largely because of its equipment: lots of technology (aided by our choice of the $2,000 Technology package), handsome 19-inch alloy wheels and a muscular 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V6.
Early on, that V6 was the subject of a lot of praise from staffers who drove the Sorento. Our managing editor, Tara Trompeter, remarked “This. Thing. Moves.”, periods and all, and further noted she was “SHOCKED” by the Sorento’s acceleration. Lest you think Tara may not be experienced in the art of sporty people movers, another staffer, Rob Nestora, mentioned “it never lacks for power,” and went on to actually complain it may be a little too easy to chirp the tires when you’re initially setting out from a traffic light — it’s that powerful.
Interior (and Exterior) Love
But it wasn’t just the engine that surprised us. Throughout our year with the Sorento, our staffers kept filing stories about its high-quality interior. Although Tara was initially unsure about the color — she noted the Merlot hue “would make a gorgeous nail polish” — she eventually said that “the interior as a whole is extremely impressive.”
Those sentiments were echoed by editor Brian Moody, who noted that “the textures, patterns and overall feel are very high-quality,” and further mentioned he’d “put them well above every Toyota” and “a tick above Honda.” He even mentioned a specific interior item: the climate control knob for the third-row seating. “That piece likely doesn’t get used much,” Brian wrote, “but Kia designers didn’t phone it in.”
Another staffer also fawned over the interior, noting a huge improvement over the outgoing Sorento, including more soft-touch surfaces and stronger materials.
And it wasn’t just the interior we appreciated. Rob Nestora commented, rightfully, that the Kia Sorento “has style for days, but in a much more subdued manner than other SUVs like the Nissan Murano or Lexus RX.” And another staffer noted his relatives were impressed by the exterior styling when he drove the Sorento on a road trip to visit family.
Technology and Usability
Beyond the style of our Sorento, we also appreciated just how easy and practical it is to use. One example is the cargo area, which is larger than the cargo holds of many similarly sized SUVs, like the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Edge — and, unlike those models, the Sorento has a third-row seat.
And speaking of the third-row seat, one staffer noted the Sorento’s sliding second row made third-row seat access especially easy for children (or even adults) climbing back there. This is an increasingly common feature in the 3-row SUV world, but we’re glad we had it in the Sorento.
On the subject of usability, we were also impressed with the Sorento’s fuel economy numbers. Despite the aforementioned powerful 3.3-liter V6 engine, the SUV managed 25.2 miles per gallon in highway driving during a road trip where it was fully loaded down with kids, family and accessories. That’s not bad for a vehicle that chirps the tires from a stop light.
As for technology, we had both positive and negative things to say about the Sorento. Tara noted she really liked the intuitive and user-friendly buttons on the side of the infotainment screen, but similarly remarked that “making phone calls is one area where the 2017 Kia Sorento falls short,” clarifying that the voice-activated calling system doesn’t understand the commands you give it. We also appreciated the fact that our Sorento has not just heated seats, but also ventilated seats, though Tara noted she’d appreciate it if the heated (or ventilated) seat setting remained in place after you got back in the car and turned it on following a short errand.
The 2017 Kia Sorento SX is an excellent family vehicle, and we’ve enjoyed our time behind the wheel. In fact, if it were up to us, we wouldn’t give up the Sorento — it’s been a great hauler for our staffers with kids, and even our resident car enthusiasts have grudgingly conceded it’s quick, handsome and fun to drive. We recommend the Sorento largely due to its excellent quality, its practical interior, its handsome styling, its powerful engine and its long warranty, which remains one of the best in the car industry.