We've always been impressed with current Kia Sorento's strong powertrain, secure handling, and roomy interior. For 2014, the Sorento is updated, putting it back on our radar and into our test fleet.
The '14 Sorento builds on a solid foundation. In fact, the Sorento previously scored high enough in 2011 to be named our Top Pick for a family SUV. However, below-average reliability knocked it out of the running the following year. (See our 2013 Top Picks.)
For the new model year, the facelifted Sorento gets a direct-injection 290-hp, 3.3-liter V6, updated interior and controls, and redesigned suspension. Even though it's called a 2014 model, it's on sale now.
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We bought an all-wheel drive EX model with that V6 and added the $4,000 "Touring Package," which piles on a navigation system, Infinity stereo, ventilated and heated front seats, and an enormous sunroof. Plus, we got the third-row seats—tacking on an extra $1,000. Grand total: $37,950. That is about $5,000 more than what we paid when we originally tested it in 2010.
We often debate the merits of certain features we see on test cars. Take third-row seats, for example. Some of my colleagues argue that most of the time you never use them, and when you do only kids are thrown back there for short trips. Hence, don't spend the money on a huge SUV or minivan just to get large seats that almost always go unused. The Sorento promises a good compromise, providing additional seating in a pinch without super-sizing the whole vehicle.
Our initial impression is that the Sorento remains a sensible, functional vehicle. But we're curious to see if this refreshed model scores as high as the last one. We'll also have to wait for more survey results to find out if the new V6 version will be more reliable—the four-cylinder Sorento continues to have average reliability.