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2018 Kia Sorento vs. 2018 Kia Sportage: What’s the Difference?

  • The 2018 Kia Sorento is a midsize crossover, while the 2018 Kia Sportage is a compact crossover.

  • The Sorento is available with seating for up to seven, while the Sportage seats five.

  • There are some surprising differences in fuel economy between the Sportage and the Sorento.

Crossovers and SUVs have been growing rapidly in popularity as the family vehicle of choice. Drivers have fallen in love with the ride height, versatility and efficiency of modern crossovers, and it looks like this market shift is here to stay.

Two popular options for a family SUV are the Kia Sorento and Kia Sportage. Both name plates have been around for more than a decade, and they’re both better than ever in their current forms. Let’s take a look at what’s similar, what’s different and which is better for you between the compact Sportage and the midsize Sorento.

Exterior

As previously mentioned, the Sportage is in the compact crossover class, and the Sorento falls into the midsize category. As a result, the Sorento is almost a foot longer than the Sportage, but only about an inch bigger in width and height.

The styling of the Sportage is a bit of a love-it-or-hate-it affair. It has Kia’s corporate "Tiger Nose" grille and the rest of the front end has a very expressive face that’s an acquired taste. The back of the Sportage is a bit cleaner with a nice horizontal taillight design that gives it a bit of a premium look.

The Sorento’s aesthetic is a little more traditional than the Sportage. It’s not the most exciting SUV on the market, but maybe that’s what you’re looking for. If you want a subtle midsize crossover with room for up to seven, then the Sorento may be for you. If you want to stand out in traffic a little more, then you might prefer the look of the Sportage.

Interior

One of the biggest differences between the Sportage and the Sorento is seating capacity. Every Sportage has seating for five, but the Sorento is available with a third row of seats meaning it can accommodate up to seven people. The seats way in the back are a little cramped, especially for adults, but it can be nice to have a couple extra seats in a pinch. One annoyance about the third row is that, for some reason, it’s only accessible from the passenger side. When those seats are folded down, they turn into more cargo room.

As for interior design, Kia has been doing a nice job in recent years making interiors feel like they’re from much more expensive cars. The Sportage and the Sorento are no exception. They both have very attractive, premium-looking interiors with quality materials all around no matter which trim level you go with. The Sportage has the distinction of a flat-bottom steering wheel, giving it more of a sporty feel.

Mechanicals

The 2018 Kia Sportage is available with two different 4-cylinder engines. Both of those engines are also available in the Sorento, which adds a V6 option that can’t be had in the Sportage.

The base engine in both SUVs is a 2.4-liter inline-four. Incidentally, the same engine has slightly different power and torque ratings in the Sorento and the Sportage. In the Sportage, this engine makes 181 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. In the Sorento, it makes 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. The turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that’s available in both crossovers has identical performance numbers for both at 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. That makes the turbo engine a pretty big upgrade over the naturally aspirated 4-cylinder. The available V6 in the Sorento is a 3.3-liter V6 that makes 290 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque.

Dynamax all-wheel drive is available on both the Sportage and the Sorento, which is great for adding versatility and capability. This confidence-inspiring full-time AWD system provides better traction when the road conditions get bad by delivering power to the wheels that need it.

Fuel economy is a mixed bag with these crossovers, especially when you factor in AWD. In the Sportage, the base engine gets 23 miles per gallon city, 30 mpg highway when equipped with front-wheel drive, but if you want to upgrade to AWD, fuel economy takes a pretty big hit going down to 21 mpg city/25 mpg highway. There’s a similar story with the turbo engine returning 21 mpg city/26 mpg highway with FWD and 20 mpg city/23 mpg hwy with AWD.

Strangely enough, a Sorento equipped with the same turbocharged engine actually gets better fuel economy than the turbo Sportage. The turbo Sorento returns 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway with FWD and 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway with AWD. So if you really want the turbocharged engine, it’s hard to argue in favor of the Sportage, which is smaller, less efficient and very similarly priced.

As for the other Sorento engines, the base engine gets 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy in FWD and 21 mpg city/25 hwy with AWD. Those are pretty respectable numbers for a 3-row SUV. If you upgrade to the powerful V6, you can expect 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with both FWD and AWD.

Features and Technology

The Sorento and the Sportage both offer the user-friendly UVO infotainment system. It’s available with either a 7-inch screen or 8-inch if you opt for navigation. All UVO systems come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for 2018, which is convenient for keeping your phone connected to your car and out of your hand while driving. UVO is pretty straightforward and easy to use with a short learning curve.

The Sorento and Sportage both have similar trim levels. There’s the base LX, mid-range EX and high-end SX. As you move up the trims of both the Sorento and the Sportage, they can get pretty luxurious by adding features like leather seats, a heated steering wheel and Kia Drive Wise safety technology. Drive Wise includes convenient technologies like autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection, lane-departure warning and parking assist.

Pricing

The Sportage is a little more affordable than the Sorento. The Sportage starts at $23,600 and the bigger Sorento starts at $25,900. The Sorento can get a lot more expensive going into the mid $40k range because of the available V6 and lots of available features. The most expensive Sportage, on the other hand, only goes into the mid $30k range.

Interestingly, the Sorento with the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine only costs $200 more than the turbo-equipped Sportage. That’s because the turbo engine is only available on the mid-range Sorento EX, and the same engine is only available in the high-end Sportage SX. This makes the Sorento EX 2.0T a great value and a very efficient 3-row crossover with strong performance.

Conclusion

Despite coming from the same brand, the Sportage and the Sorento have a lot of differences between them. If you want seating for up to seven, then the bigger Sorento is the obvious choice. If you’re looking for something smaller, sportier and more affordable, then the Sportage might be up your alley.

The fuel economy differences should be taken into consideration when shopping for either of these. If you’re shopping for an AWD crossover, then you might want to consider a V6-equipped Sorento if you can afford it, since it returns fuel economy the closest to its FWD counterpart.

It’s hard to go wrong with any of these crossovers, but we’d recommend going with an EX or higher for either to get the UVO infotainment system, leather seats and extra safety tech. The 2018 Kia Sportage and 2018 Kia Sorento are both great values for a family SUV.

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