Kia Sorento Emerges From the Telluride’s Shadow

If cars could talk, the Kia Sorento would have plenty to say. Introduced in 2003, the Sorento originally occupied the white space between compact and midsize utility vehicles. As this crossover aged and was replaced by subsequent generations, the Sorento gradually grew and transformed into a bona fide three-row midsize SUV.

In 2020, the Sorento’s world was turned upside down. Months before a global pandemic would thwart the way humanity conducted business, the Sorento was joined by the slightly larger and more sophisticated Kia Telluride.

From the get-go, the Telluride was a success with customers who were clamoring for the SUV in far greater numbers than Kia could supply. Shortages were everywhere and dealer markups became routine. That is not something the Sorento ever experienced, such as the difference between the two.

If the Sorento could talk, it might have said, “I am doomed.” After all, the Telluride quickly established itself as the brand’s flagship, a proud seven-passenger people mover with rugged looks, an upscale interior, and capable utility. Even so, the 2020 model year had both models on hand, giving the Sorento an unexpected reprieve.


2022 Kia Sorento X-Line front fascia
2022 Kia Sorento X-Line

Sorento Says

Perhaps it was the Telluride’s success that told Kia to keep building the Sorento. But the far more likely scenario is that Kia wanted a larger piece of the lucrative three-row SUV prize. Thus, the Telluride and Sorento would serve as two slices of that pastry going forward.

Surprisingly, Kia not only kept with the Sorento, but it completely overhauled the SUV in 2021 on the cusp of its third decade. The all-new model remains roughly the size of the previous version, aligning itself with Kia’s current design direction. Sitting next to the Telluride, the Sorento has a distinct grille and frontal lights, but elements of the Telluride’s rear light design are present. “Ha! I’m not only more fashionable than before, but I have a distinct canvas from the Telluride,” says the Sorento.

Yes, this is simply an imaginative story about two models, but especially the Sorento and its place in the market. Size-wise, the Telluride is the larger of the two with an additional 3.5 inches longer between the wheels and five inches lengthier overall. Inside, the differences seem even more apparent as the Sorento’s cargo space measures just 12.6 cubic feet to 21 cubic feet for the Telluride. Fold down both the second-and third-row seats and the Telluride’s cargo capabilities are 87 cubic feet to 75.5 cubic feet for the Sorento. As such, the Sorento is one of the smaller three-row midsize SUVs available, while the Telluride rivals some of the roomiest.

2022 Kia Sorento Overview

The 2022 Sorento comes in LX, S, EX, SX, and SX Prestige trims. Front-wheel drive is standard; most trims offer all-wheel drive. Two gas engine choices are available. Separately, Kia markets a pair of Sorento hybrids, including standard and plug-in variants.

The Sorento is priced from $29,590 to $43,190, plus a $1,225 for the destination charge. If you prefer the hybrids, the standard model ranges from $34,090 to $43,190; the plug-in costs from $45,190 to $48,090.


Kia Sorento Profile


The two Sorento engines displace 2.5 liters. It is what Kia does with these four-cylinder powerhouses that make all the difference in the world. Choose the LX or S trims and this engine makes 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. This engine works with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Opt for the EX, SX, and SX Prestige models, and this engine comes turbocharged with 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. The second engine is paired with an 8-speed wet dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Safety Features

Kia equips all trims with automatic high beams, the requisite rear-view camera, and a rear seat reminder. Also included is standard forward collision warning and forward automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. A lane control package includes lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, and lane-tracing assist. A driver drowsiness monitor completes the standard package.

Depending on the trim, additional driver-assist safety features are available. These include adaptive cruise control, highway driving assist, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic assist. Front and rear parking sensors, reverse automatic emergency braking, and a surround-view parking camera system are also available.

Kia Sorento Technologies

The 2022 Sorento comes with six standard USB ports although some models add a seventh. This is in keeping with the direction the industry is moving by making connectivity widely available throughout the cabin.

As for the standard tech package, it comes with an 8-inch touchscreen display and a 6-speaker audio system. Other features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and HD Radio. A rear entertainment system is a $1,500 upgrade on the standard LX trim.

Kia does not stop there, however. Move up to the S trim and this one brings in a 10.25-inch touchscreen display. That is today’s industry standard and comes with navigation and satellite radio.

Make your move to the range-topping SX Prestige trim and this one comes with a 12.3-inch touchscreen display and a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel. The two screens give the Sorento a sophisticated look, one that punches well above its pay grade. To top matters, a 12-speaker Bose audio system comes in.


Kia Sorento interior


Convenience Features

When it comes to SUVs, comfort and convenience go hand in glove. The Sorento largely succeeds in that department, although it shines best from the EX trim on up.

Cloth seats and manually controlled front seats are the standard. Full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, and air conditioning are included.

Move up to the S trim and this one adds such features as remote start and dual-zone automatic climate control. Imitation leather seats, a 10-way power-controlled driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and shift knob, and heated front seats are also included.

Stepping up to the middle EX trim adds fog lamps, a hands-free power liftgate, and an electronic parking brake. Second-row captain’s chairs replace the bench seat at a cost of one seating position. But the comfort exchange is credible with chairs that rival the front-row thrones. A panoramic roof and 20-inch alloy wheels are included with the all-wheel-drive versions.

At the SX trim, LED headlights come in. This model also includes an 8-way power front passenger seat. Choose the SX Prestige trim and this model comes with power-folding side mirrors. Leather-wrapped seats, a 14-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, ventilated front seats, and heated second-row seats are included. Paddle shifters and a heated steering wheel complete the upgrades.

Driving the Sorento

As expected, our test model was the range-topping SX Prestige X-Line AWD. Not only was this one dressed for maximum success, but it was imbued with a turbocharged engine. It is a fitting substitute for the previous V6 which is hardly missed. That said, no Sorento pulls more than 3,500 pounds (2,000 pounds with the trailer package). That compares to 5,000 pounds for the Telluride, 6,000 pounds for the Nissan Pathfinder, and 7,200 pounds for the Dodge Durango. Most certainly, if towing is a priority, you will consider the Telluride ahead of the Sorento.

But the turbo Sorento is no slouch. And far from that. This engine supplies strong step-off acceleration and even stronger passing power. The turbos spool quickly and send power to the front wheels with ease.


Kia Sorento rear


The dual-clutch transmission is a gem as it shifts with rapidity and never seems to hunt for gears. We found the steering was dialed in, the Sorento’s handling spot on, and the ride very comfortable. Firm brakes make the experience more enjoyable.

No SUVs except those created specifically for performance manage twisting roads in a steady manner. After all, high-profile vehicles are notorious for body sway and the Kia has its share. Nevertheless, the center-locking differential shifts power to the rear as needed, making the all-wheel-drive Sorento the ideal choice here. Further, with all-wheel drive, the Sorento has a slightly elevated ride height and additional off-road features. No, we do not recommend this model for vigorous off-roading, but it holds its own on gravel roads and well-worn paths.

Kia Sorento Parting Thoughts

The Kia Sorento is the value model of the class with well-equipped all-wheel-drive versions retailing for under $40,000. While we prefer the Telluride, the Sorento is a capable performer. We see the Sorento as ideal for five passengers, with seven seated in a pinch. Simply fold down the third row and enjoy the extra cargo space and the savings that go with it.


See AlsoKia, Buick Top J.D. Power Dependability Survey

Exterior photos copyright Stumpwater Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved. Interior shots courtesy of Kia of America.

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