These include moments where the perfect balance between two extremes providing enough comfort and ease that define the lives we live.
In a world full of imbalance, we often seek balance in our lives.
These include moments where “just right” is exactly that – the perfect balance between two extremes providing enough comfort and ease that define the lives we live.
Without waxing too deep into existential pabulum, the current generation Kia Sorento offers all of the balance an active lifestyle person needs without crimping their life.
You may breathe now.
What I am getting at is how Kia created a Sorento to slot between the award-winning Telluride (our #VOTY19) and the outgoing Sportage (a new 2023 version is coming – and the media has been falling in love with it). It does so by pushing the third-row seating while offering flexible practicality and performance.
You were introduced to the newest Sorento through a hybrid version that only drove the front wheels. While it was fine for its intended purpose, I did not feel it was the one you would rather own. You wanted all-wheel drive (well, at least we do in Minnesota), and a non-hybrid driveline (it goes against the narrative towards electrification, doesn’t it?).
So did I. I wanted to see the X-Line versions that Kia seems to market heavily. These ruggedized Sorento models feature an off-road look and stance that consumers are falling over to get. The idea of a Jeep Wrangler or Ford Bronco without (a) out-of-the-box extreme off-road capability and (b) something that is livable and affordable.
To my surprise, a Sorento X-Line arrived at my doorstep. I was happy to see it. This would be my pick for a Sorento model if I was committed to owning one.
Why? When I was first presented with the Sorento over a year ago, there was some confusion whether the X-Line was offered as a separate model from the lineup. In the Soul, the X-Line is its own trim level. Instead, the X-Line is an upgrade from “normal” Sorento models with a ruggedized treatment on top of a designated trim level. In this case, three trim levels.
This is a recipe for an enjoyable week with an SUV that I believe should be among the leaders of the genre. After all, Kia has been on fire with everything they have introduced. Even though there were some vehicles that have not sold in numbers that would make it more popular (the Stinger, for example), Kia executed those models at its highest level.
Last year’s Sorento yielded a lot of good returns. The design and interior comfort alone were winners in my eyes. Adding the new logo for their 2022 models elevate the Sorento to something worth wanting. That seems to be the only change Kia made to the Sorento lineup for this model year.
Coming from the Hybrid model to the X-Line yielded even more favorable items that fit to my interest and liking. There’s a real shifter for the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. I understand the need to save space and weight, but some of us like shifters instead of anything else that actuates a transmission.
For me, the big attraction to this Sorento was its 281-horsepower 2.5-liter turbocharged engine. An engine so powerful, it makes the entire driving experience effortless. There was some discussion of whether the dual-clutch transmission was not the right match for this engine. I did not notice anything negative about this combination. I thought the shifts were fine and fed into the power band of this turbo as intended.
On the other hand, fuel economy was a bit disappointing, as I averaged 21.4 MPG while in. my care. I could blame the last vestiges of winter on that one, The EPA states that this Sorento should average 24 MPG. Duly noted…
The overall driving experience was pleasant. The ride was soft and smooth. Handling was fine when doing evasive maneuvers. I found that the chassis lived up to its ruggedized credentials in a civilized way.
The steering system offered a good turning radius and solid on-road feel. There is plenty of steering weight to work with in all drive modes and is very stable within the lanes. The brake pedal was a bit on the soft side. Stops in all situations were pretty good overall – including what could be its last exposure to winter conditions.
I touched upon the interior a bit with its welcomed shifter. I do like the cabin overall, however, the steering column has limited adjustments for us taller drivers. If I tried to sit lower, I would not be as comfortable as I liked. The front seats were fine, with its quilted leather seating in Rust with black details throughout the cabin. That color combination does contrast with the optional Wolf Gray paint job outside.
The second-row captain’s chairs also had enough comfort and space for adults to enjoy the ride over distances. However, it is recommended that the third row would be reserved for children. There is not enough room for adults to sit comfortably for more than, say, 45 minutes on the road.
Space for cargo and other goods start with just 12.6 cubic feet behind the third row. Once you keep folding down the second and third row of seats, you will eventually get up to 75.5 cubic feet of flat loading space to play with.
In my previous Sorento review, I remarked how the vents reminded me of ones that were crafted onto a mid-1960s mid-priced large sedan. That is one detail that entertained me inside of the Sorento. If you appreciate design, you might obsess over it. I just think it makes the cabin pop some more.
The SX Prestige comes with a wide instrument cluster screen that includes the Blind-Spot View Monitors that take over the dials when a turn is indicated. I also like the plethora of information available to me in the center information screen. When it comes to digital instrument clusters, Kia (along with Hyundai and Genesis) has one of the best set-ups in the business.
Next to the instrumentation screen is the 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen. It also packs a lot of options from native navigation to vehicle functions. Smartphone integration is done through a USB-A connection only. Just wished it would be either wireless and/or connected through a USB-C connection. A 12-speaker Bose sound system sends the sound coming from this screen throughout the cabin.
What really makes the X-Line Sorento stand out is its presence. Choosing the X-Line raises the ride height by an inch over the standard ground clearance, adds plastic cladding for protection, a specific grille texture, roof rail trim, and X-Line front and rear bumpers. On this SX Prestige model, I got a set of 20-inch dark gray alloy wheels to finish out the look.
Even without the X-Line upgrades, the Sorento is a handsome vehicle. It is distinctive and a standout in its class. The Sorento invites families and others with active lifestyles to enjoy its charms over the miles.
As for the cost of admission, the sticker price on this 2022 Kia Sorento X-Line SX Prestige AWD tester came to $45,120. There are a total of eight non-hybrid trim levels to choose from, including three X-Line models. In addition, there are two Hybrid models and two more Plug-In Hybrid trim choices. Pricing starts from $29,590.
With twelve Sorento models to choose from, the reality is that the pickings are slim. You know the story – supply chain challenges from all over resulting in a lack of inventory. It’s not just at Kia, but across the entire automotive industry. What could have been hundreds within a reasonable distance from home has whittled down to a couple of dozen units. Luckily for us in the Twin Cities, a vast majority of them happen to be X-Line models – a good chunk of them equipped like my tester.
That should not discourage you from considering any of the twelve Sorento models on offer. You can still order one. You might have a wait, but, believe me, the wait will be worth it.
I say that to ensure that if you like what the Sorento brings to the SUV table. It is a well-balanced vehicle that is worth owning. Add dependability to the mix and you have a companion for life. This is what Kia had in mind for this current generation Sorento, something that was intended when the original model came out some twenty years ago. It still continues to fulfill its customer’s needs and wants today.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Kia America
All photos by Randy Stern