A restyle becomes a complete redesign
The redesign only looks skin deep, but Kia has actually put a serious amount of effort into this restyle.
I must commend the efforts that Kia has been making over the past decade. Not only have they began producing exactly what today’s market needs, they have done it in a beautifully sleek and stylish way. Their cars have gone from being boring econoboxes to a truly astounding lineup and overall seriously competitive products for competitive prices. This week, I tested the 2014 Kia Sorento SX V6 AWD.
Full disclosure: Up until the moment I picked up the car, I had completely forgotten that Kia had redone the Sorento for the 2014 model year. At first glance from afar, my Snow White Pearl tester looked like an upscale luxury SUV. I literally had to ask myself if that was indeed my test car or had they made a mistake. This is where it gets even more surprising; it began to look better and better as I got closer. Kia’s corporate styling got more and more prominent.
The full-size sport-utility segment has never really appealed to me. Of course, I’m a single guy who likes his sporty coupes and ragtops, so it’s not like I’m their target market anyway. I’ll be honest though; I genuinely fell in love with this Sorento, and this is the first time I’ve felt this way about an SUV.
Having been around for just over a decade, this huge facelift for the Sorento is still considered a second-generation car. The redesign only looks skin deep, but Kia has actually put a serious amount of effort into this restyle. Beginning with the front and rear fascias, they have put in a new engine and revamped the whole chassis. The interior is redone as well. The new Sorento is simple yet aggressive and its new face reflects that character perfectly. By no means is this a BMW X5, but I’d like to think of it as an Acura MDX on a budget.
The interior of the new Sorento is where Kia’s efforts really begin to shine. My SX model came with heated and cooled leather seats in the front. The 8” touchscreen in the dashboard comes with navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, and of course, iPod integration. The SUV also comes with a 10-speaker Infinity stereo system with an integrated subwoofer, a panoramic sunroof, a heated steering wheel, and a blind spot detections system. It’s worth mentioning that the sound system is actually awesome for a vehicle that’s this good a value. Something that seriously surprised me was the FlexSteer system that allows you to toggle the steering wheel feedback between Comfort, Sport, and Normal settings. It’s a tad gimmicky, but works pretty well.
I make a mental note to myself to mention the user-friendliness and overall feel of the Bluetooth integration in every tester I drive. I use Bluetooth to both stream audio from my iPhone as well as receive calls hands-free. Not only is good connectivity an essential part of my daily commute, it’s becoming more and more necessary with the number of people that I see on our roads driving with their phones firmly planted to their ears. The system in the Sorento is not only simple to connect to, but playing music and making calls are both seamless activities that don’t need rocket scientists to set up.
My tester Sorento was fitted with the redesigned 3.3L V6 that’s also used in Hyundai applications. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. I’m thankful that unlike the new Nissan Pathfinder, Kia has stayed away from the CVT transmission. Producing 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque, the Sorento isn’t a torque monster, but is Lexus-levels of smooth when booting around the city or cruising on the highway. The shifts are smooth and the ride is beautiful. It did remind me of the new RX450 Hybrid we drove back in the winter. While passing power on the highway isn’t exactly available on demand, the big Kia definitely won’t be left behind by the endless army of econoboxes that seems to be on the 400-series highways at any given time.
When it comes to fuel consumption, I have essentially accepted the fact that most crossovers and three-row SUVs are absolute pigs. Some manufacturers have tried to put boosted 4-cylinder motors into these big utes hoping to remedy this, but with my experience, any improvement in economy has been marginal at best. The 2014 Kia Sorento definitely surprised me in this regard; it managed to give me a weekly average of 10.4L/100km. Granted, I put away my lead foot and drove it as conservatively as I possibly could, but I was expecting far worse. My colleague with the 3.7L Infiniti QX70 was suffering far more than I was at the end of the week.
The 2014 Kia Sorento is definitely a huge step in the right direction, but it’s not exactly a game changer. The outgoing model was good, but hindered by its blandness. For an as-tested price below the $42,000 mark, the value is pretty much unbeatable. If I was in the market for a crossover or even a minivan where three rows of seating were of huge importance to me, this new offering from Kia would be at the top of my list. Its practicality, its sharp looks, and simple manoeuvrability make it a viable alternative to other offerings in the segment.
2014 Kia Sorento SX V6 Gallery