Four to five years is the average life cycle of a popular vehicle, and even then, the replacement might be just an upgrade. But after just 3 years since its introduction, Sorento arrives as no mere refresh or facelift. Instead, with over 80-percent of the parts either all-new or redesigned, the "new" Sorento features an all-new chassis, a more powerful direct injected V6 engine, a restyled interior, a next-generation infotainment system and Kia’s first blind spot detection system.
Sorento is still classified as a compact 5-passenger crossover, available in four trim levels. Its styling isn’t necessarily all new, but it isn’t just warmed over either. Redesigned front and rear fascias create a lower, broader appearance up front and wider stance at the rear. The tiger-nose grille is enhanced with a silver metal on black mesh appearance. Front LED running lights form trendy eyebrows over the projector type headlights that are inside swept-back clear lenses. Fog lights have been relocated for better forward and side visibility.
Turn signal and back-up lights are surrounded by LED combination running and brake lamps that make the 2014 Sorento instantly recognizable from behind. The new Sorento rides on attractive 17-, 18- and, larger 19-inch wheels.
New for 2014 is the all-aluminum, 3.3-liter direct injected V6, that produces 290 hp and 252 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s available on the LX and standard equipment in the LX V6, EX V6, SX and SX Limited. Power goes to either the front wheels or all four using an enhanced Torque On Demand all-wheel drive system that directs power to the tire with the most traction. Now, there's plenty of power to drive comfortably with a full load of passengers and their stuff in hilly terrain. EPA fuel economy estimates are 18/25/21 mpg city/highway/combined.
The 2.4-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine carries over from last year, but now as standard equipment, replacing the previously standard 2.4-liter port-injected 4-cylinder. With 191 horsepower and 181 lb.-ft. of torque, the all-aluminum powerplant is efficient and has adequate power for routine daily needs. EPA fuel economy estimates are 19/24/21 mpg city/highway/combined.
Regardless of engine or driveline choice, Sorento comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission. Under normal driving conditions, up-and down-shifts are so smooth you have to watch the tach or listen carefully to know when they occur. Also standard in the new 2014 Sorento, electric power steering replaces the hydraulic unit from the 2013 model for improved efficiency and quicker response.
Whether on straight highways or twisty mountain roads the new steering system has great on-center feel and response. However, we're not sold on the available FlexSteer system that offers drivers a choice of three steering modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport. After trying out all three, we went back to the Normal setting and left it there.
A major objective in designing the new chassis was to improve ride and handling. Strut-tower bracing increases chassis strength and provides a solid structure for the redesigned independent front suspension that is mounted to a stiffer H-shaped sub-frame cradle for improved ride comfort and NVH. Around back, a reinforced multi-link setup utilizes new, larger bushings and mounts to improve road noise, vibration and straight line stability, while its compact design allows for more interior space.
Ride quality is best described as smooth. Unlike many of its competitors, the suspension has been tuned so that of the balance between ride quality and handling is nicely biased toward the soft side as you probably want for family travel. Even so, handling is still competent. Kia's attention to minimizing cabin noise has made the Sorento remarkably quiet, even on course pavement.
Inside the new Sorento, a redesigned instrument panel combines technology with proven ergonomics. Standard on EX and optionally available on the LX trim, the large center gauge cluster features a 7-inch TFT LCD that projects a digital speedometer flanked by easy-to-read analog instruments for the tachometer, fuel level and engine temp. The TFT LCD readout also displays trip and vehicle information, along with navigation updates.
The center stack layout has been modernized to accommodate Kia’s new larger touch screen. The optional screen integrates navigation, SiriusXM Traffic with real-time road information updates, a premium Infinity audio system, SiruisXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, vehicle settings and UVO eServices, Kia’s next generation of infotainment and telematics.
Other new available features include Kia’s first-ever programmable power liftgate, a redesigned panoramic sunroof with a one-piece power-operated shade, integrated 2nd row sliding sunshades, available dual ventilated air-cooled front seats, a 115-volt power inverter, illuminated door handle pockets and a blind spot detection system.
Building on the success of the Optima SX Limited launched earlier this year, offering a similar appearance package on the Sorento was a logical follow-up. Available only in Ebony Black, Snow White Pearl or Titanium Silver, the SX Limited is set apart visually from the Sorento SX by unique self-leveling Xenon HID head lights, exclusive 19-inch chrome wheels and sporty red painted brake calipers. Exclusive SX-L badges adorn the exterior to complete the look.
Inside, unique and luxurious Nappa leather trimmed seats, a wood-trimmed, heated steering wheel, and heated rear seats are all standard. The exclusive soft-touch headliner and pillar accents make the Sorento SX Limited an inviting place to enjoy some quiet time.
Regardless of which model you select, Sorento has a lot to offer. Prices start at: LX, $24,950; EX, $30,850; SX, $35,850; SX-L, $38,850