Everyone wants to fit into the clothes they were able to wear when they were 20. Some try to put them on anyway. Usually, the fit isn’t good.
It’s the same kind of issue with putting three rows of seats in a compact-sized crossover SUV.
This is probably why there are only three compact crossover SUVs that even try to squeeze a third row in there. One of them being the just-updated Kia Sorento, which is also just a bit bigger than it was before to make some more room back there.
What It Is
The Sorento is one of just three compact-sized crossovers that offers seven-passenger seating; the other two being the VW Tiguan and the Mitsubishi Outlander.
Prices start at $29,390 for the base LX trim with a 2.5-liter engine, eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. With the optional AWD system, this version stickers for $31,190.
The EX comes with a much stronger turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter engine, paired with a faster-shifting eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The FWD EX stickers for $34,990. With the optional AWD system, the price is $36,790.
A top-of-the-line SX (which also comes standard with the more powerful version of the 2.5-liter engine) with AWD lists for $42,590.
The Sorento gets a major makeover, stylistically as well as functionally.
You don’t have to buy the optional engine to get AWD.
If you buy the optional engine, you don’t have to buy AWD.
A useable rather than merely visual third row.
What’s Not So Good
The formerly available V6 is no longer available.
Costs more than rivals like the VW Tiguan (which stickers for $25,245 to start).
Automatic stop/start is standard.
Under the Hood
Last year, the Sorento was available with a base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and an optional 3.3-liter V6 engine. Now, it is available with a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with — or without — a turbocharger.
The one without makes 191 horsepower — an uptick over the previous Sorento’s base 2.4-liter four, which made 185 horsepower.
The optional engine is a turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter engine, which makes 281 horsepower. It is the strongest available in the engine in the class and gets the Sorento to 60 in about 7.4 seconds.
You can select FWD or AWD with either engine.
On the Road
Most crossovers that seat seven realistically are substantially bigger than the Sorento. They are midsized or even bigger. Therefore, they take up more room in the garage — and on the road.
They are more to deal with.
Which sets up a conundrum for those who need the extra room but don’t want to deal with the extra size. Having to pull in partially, and then back it up and straighten out, and then pull forward again once you finally have it lined up straight. And then it’s the same kabuki in reverse when you’re backing out of a tight spot.
This seven-passenger crossover is as easy to maneuver as a five-passenger compact-sized car because it has about the same-sized footprint.
Which is the whole point of the exercise: something big enough but not too big.
At the Curb
The new Sorento looks very much unlike the previous Sorento … which looked very much like the Sedona minivan.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
This one looks more like the Telluride, Kia’s newest (and largest) crossover SUV. Just downscaled.
Third-row seating is standard, but you can choose a second-row bench or captain’s chairs and seats for six or seven. The third row is a squeeze to get back there, but once you’re there, it’s viable seating for teenagers and doable short-hop seating for most adults, with just shy of 30 inches of room for your legs.
Kia provides a one-touch slide/tilt function for the second-row chairs — to get them out of the way for people trying to make their way to the third-row seats. But I found it easier to walk around the second row — if you have captain’s chairs — and scrabble down the aisle to the third row.
Kia also thoughtfully places USB ports throughout the Sorento — including three in the third row of the SX. However, you’ve got to look for the 12-volt power port, which is installed on the back of the center console, facing the second row. Make sure your radar detector has a long enough cord.
The Bottom Line
Making it fit without making it too big — or too tight — is no easy thing to do. The Sorento shows how it’s done.
SET IMAGE) epe051821adAP.jpg (END IMAGE) (SET CAPTION) View the Kia Sorento this week. (END CAPTION)
Eric’s latest book, “Don’t Get Taken for a Ride!” is available now. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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Last Updated: Monday, May 17, 2021 16:26:51 -0700