2021 Kia Sorento: 6 Things We Like and 3 Things We Don’t

2021 Kia Sorento

Thanks to significant upgrades inside and out, the 2021 Kia Sorento is more than a match for rivals such as the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Volkswagen Atlas. In fact, the new Sorento makes a strong case for itself in Kia’s own family tree of SUVs, most notably the roomy and attractive Telluride. That’s no easy feat considering how much praise has been heaped on the Telluride since it arrived for the 2020 model year.

The Sorento sports a sleek exterior design and now has four choices of engine, including a plug-in hybrid variant due later in 2021. Cabin quality has moved up a notch and is one of the Sorento’s most compelling attributes. From behind the wheel, the Sorento we recently tested had the look and feel of an honest-to-goodness luxury vehicle.

Related: 2021 Kia Sorento Review: A Middle Child Deserving of the Spotlight    

So, the 2021 Sorento has lots going for it, including newly available safety and tech touches. What’s not to like? Well, the third row is still best left for kids (or very patient adults). Also, cargo room might be an issue if you’re prone to big shopping sprees, or you have trouble packing light for vacation. You can find our complete review of the 2021 Kia Sorento by following the above related link, or you can keep scrolling for a quick recap of this impressive new SUV’s pros and cons.

Things We Like

1. Luxurious Interior

2021 Kia Sorento

We tested the SX-Prestige X-Line trim, which admittedly is about as fancy as you can get with this Kia SUV. While a base Sorento is priced just above $30,000, this range-topping variant starts at more than $40,000. That’s not a small amount of money, but the quality of the cabin and materials used throughout the interior prove you’re spending cash wisely. Our test vehicle looked superb thanks to wood trim, quilted leather and low-gloss surfaces. Who needs a snobby luxury badge on the grille when a mainstream SUV looks this good?

2. Smooth Ride

The 2021 Sorento isn’t a one-trick pony. During our time with it, the Sorento proved it has the driving dynamics to match its sleek exterior and elegant interior. We called the Sorento “stable and confident.” its suspension does an admirable job keeping everyone comfortable. The 20-inch alloy wheels fitted to our tester make the ride a little firm, though available smaller alloys should help correct this minor issue.

2021 Kia Sorento

3. Strong Engine Choices

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the Sorento’s engine bay. A 191-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder is standard, though our tester came with the more powerful turbocharged version of this engine. With 281 hp on tap, the Sorento is smooth and seamless in how it powers its way down the road. Available is a hybrid variant, and a PHEV version is due later this year, too. Fuel economy has been improved, and our turbocharged and all-wheel-drive Sorento returns an EPA-estimated 21/28/24 city/highway/combined. If you’re all about mpg, the Sorento Hybrid nudges these figures to 39/35/37 mpg city/highway/combined.

4. Standard Safety Features

Every 2021 Sorento comes standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, driver attention warning system, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, automatic lane-centering and a rear-seat alert system that uses ultrasonic sensors to detect if a child or pet has been left behind in the car. We’re also fans of the available blind view monitor, which projects a live view of adjacent traffic lanes in a screen nestled among the driver’s gauges. This is a huge help in city driving, where you’re sharing tight confines with other vehicles, bikes and pedestrians.

5. Seating for Up to Seven

2021 Kia Sorento

The Kia Sorento rides on a slightly longer wheelbase that translates to more cabin room. Space in the first and second rows is ample, and having the convenience of a third row is vital for many SUV shoppers. A second-row bench is standard, but optional dual captain’s chairs make getting to the rearmost seats much simpler.

6. Savvy Infotainment System

The Sorento’s infotainment system is quick, easy to comprehend and has concise menus. The standard touchscreen is 8 inches, though a 10.25-inch screen is optional. One clever new addition is the Find My Car function. This takes photos of the Sorento’s surroundings, then sends them to the driver via smartphone app. Losing your vehicle in a parking lot is officially a thing of the past.

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Things We Don’t

1. Third-Row Woes

Keep in mind that while niceties like USB ports and storage bins make the third row friendlier, any long-limbed friends or family members will want to minimize time back there. It’s still snug for adults.

2. Cargo Room Trails Rivals

2021 Kia Sorento

Numbers don’t lie and the Sorento trails rivals like the Toyota Highlander and VW Atlas when it comes to cargo room. By our measurements, there’s only 6.6 cubic feet of room behind the third row or 22.1 cubic feet when the third row is folded.

3. Hiding in the Telluride’s Shadow

The elephant in the room happens to wear a Kia badge. For only a few thousand dollars more, the Telluride offers significantly more occupant and cargo room. It doesn’t hurt that this bigger Kia SUV also comes with a powerful V-6 and has a very handsome exterior design. The Sorento does have lots to offer, however, and the updates for the 2021 model year no longer make it seem like the forgotten sibling to the highly acclaimed Telluride.

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