Cars

2021 Kia Sorento Makes Leap into Luxury

DETROIT — More is the operative word when it comes to the 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD.

There is more performance in a mild sort of way. The crossover was equipped with the automaker’s new 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that made 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque.

It was mated to an eight-speed wet-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The 2021 Kia Sorento had an EPA rating of 21 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined.

We found this engine more than adequate. Power was immediate, passing prowess was good and the four-cylinder was absent the four-banger personality.

Kia designers and engineers did a pretty good job on the interior. First, it was covered in quilted leather-like material on the seats and the doors. There was stitching, plus we caught a headrest out the corner of our eye, did a quick turn and found that this Sorento had three rows of seats.

It was cold during our test drive. There was lots of snow everywhere. This was a real-world test drive. The Sorento’s performance was relatively flawless — almost.

We appreciated the heated front seats — they were cooled, too — as well as the heated steering wheel. What we didn’t like was that every time we started the Sorento, we had to reengage the heated seats and the steering wheel. In a place where you’re going to use both for weeks on end, those features should just stay on when engaged, until the driver turns them off. Anyway, that was irritating.

The 2021 Kia Sorento kept the frigid weather outside. It was like we were riding in a cozy cocoon. The crossover was quiet, there was very little slipping because of its all-wheel-drive system and it warmed up quickly, meaning heat was available relatively promptly.

The instruments were digital, there were five drive modes: comfort, sport, smart, eco and snow. We didn’t even switch to the snow mode because the all-wheel-drive system worked so well.

There was a touch 12.3-inch floating infotainment screen. But rather than looking like it sat atop the dash, it did, but they made it look like it was coming out of the side of the instruments screen in front of the driver. It was different and that is hard to do in a field clogged with scores of models.

The Sorento had a slab of wood that went from the door across the dash to the opposite door. Well, it was not wood, but it looked like it. It looked porous, but touch it and there were no pores; that was the only giveaway. It was nicely done.

We had a panoramic roof in our test model. The liftgate was power and could be operated hands-free.

Our test vehicle was an X-Line trim, which was more of an appearance package. It included front and rear bumper fascias, leather seats, a premium audio system, surround-view monitor, aluminum sport pedals, and 20-inch matte finished alloy wheels.

The X-line package also included the all-wheel-drive system with standard center locking differential and downhill descent control, increased height by one inch over a standard Sorento and a bridge-type roof rack.

Of course, there were what’s becoming the usual features: satellite radio, voice controls, USB chargers, wireless charging, rearview camera, Bluetooth, collision avoidance all-round, smart cruise control, lane keep assist, highway driving assist, parking distance assist and rear-occupant alert.

And there was a navigation system. What’s more, one-touch slide and fold seats made easy access to the third row. Kia has managed to lift the persona of the 2021 Sorento to premium level. As tested, it had a sticker of $44,285.

Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.

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