Whenever I think of Kia management, I have this vision of people sitting inside a darkened room plotting about how they’re going to take over the world.
OK, maybe taking over the world is a bit extreme, but they’re definitely working hard on dominating the automotive world. And the 2014 Kia Sorento is yet another step in that direction. For the last five years Kia has used cheap prices and a killer warranty to lure customers. But it takes more than that to rule the world. Once Kia had them behind the wheel they gave customers a great driving experience. And now that Kia has hypnotized the masses who never thought they’d buy Korean, the company is slowly moving upscale.
My test car was the Sorento SX. It’s no longer the top of the line as the SXL has slotted in just above it. Still, the Sorento SX will give you just about everything you’d want without a fancy badge and a price tag that tops $50k.
The engine is a 3.3 liter V6 that puts out 290 hp. That’s up from the 276 offered by last year’s model. If you opt for the entry-level LX model (which starts at $24,100), you’ll get the 191 hp 2.4 liter four-cylinder. Mated to a six speed automatic transmission the V6 will give you 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway. I averaged 21.3 during my week. Not overly impressive, but right in the range with most of the competition. The V6 power doesn’t come on quite as quickly as I’d like, but it’s not bad.
Inside, the SX has a nice upscale feel. It hasn’t quite hit the luxury range, but it’s getting there. My test car had the standard leather interior with bold seat stitching. Black glossy plastic trim was a nice accent on the dash. It also has a dual zone climate control, so your passenger can claim their own temperature. My test car had the optional third row seat (which cost an extra $1,000). If you’re like me, you won’t use it much. But when you need to seat seven, it’s a lot easier than renting a bigger car for the weekend. My car had a massive sunroof that let’s everyone in the car enjoy the night sky. One button slides the inside cover all the way back.
The Kia UVO system works well. The big 8-inch display did the job. I thought the navigation system was better than most cars I test. The smaller display between the gauges was also a nice touch and had just the right information. I like the fact that they put the digital clock up high. Too many cars seem to place it low on the dash. Maybe I’m obsessed with being on time, but I like a clock that’s easy to see.
Outside, the Sorento styling is smooth. It’s not as trendy as its Hyundai Santa Fe counterpart. While I prefer the look of the Santa Fe today, I wonder if the simpler styling of the Sorento will stand the test of time a little better. Kia says the 2014 is new and improved. It doesn’t look different from the outside, but the body is a little stiffer, and the front and rear suspension has been improved. It’s not something I noticed, but then maybe that’s the point. Of course one of Kia’s key selling points is its warranty. 10 year/100,000 miles on the powertrain, and 5 years/60,000 mile for the basic warranty. That is darn impressive.
Base price for the Sorento SX is $35,000. My test car didn’t cost much more, totaling $36,900. Interestingly, the Sorento is now equal parts American and South Korean. 50% of its parts are sourced from the US and Canada, and the final assembly takes place in West Point, Georgia. The Sorento delivers a lot of car for the money. Enough that you really have to wonder if it’s worth spending more for a fancier name. And that’s how world domination begins.