The 2017 Kia Sorento looks to double down on last year's full redesign, adding deeper smartphone integration and more advanced safety features to its dossier. But the story remains the upward mobility that Kia's midsize crossover has lately shown. Previously known as a midsize crossover at a relatively compact price, the Sorento has graduated to full-fledged midsize status, competing on luxury and performance (and, yes, price) with the segment's best.
Offering no fewer than three engines, the Sorento maintains a presence on the value-oriented end of the spectrum with its base 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Step up to the 3.3-liter V6, however, and you're looking at acceleration and refinement that easily justify the higher cost, although we're lukewarm on the available turbocharged 2.0-liter four. You can go with a two-row layout or a three-row setup -- the latter offers adequate space in the way-back for kids. A number of three-row rivals boast more interior volume overall, but with its easily manageable size, the Sorento provides a nice combination of maneuverability and versatility.
If you're looking for alternatives, it depends on which Sorento you're considering. If it's the two-row version, we'd suggest checking out the well-rounded Ford Edge or the Sorento's corporate cousin, the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, with the luxurious Jeep Grand Cherokee entering the conversation at the Kia's higher trim levels. Three-row competitors include the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Toyota Highlander. Overall, we like how the 2017 Kia Sorento brings a little something for everyone, and as such it merits consideration from a wide range of crossover SUV shoppers.
Every 2017 Kia Sorento comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, and front- and second-row side curtain airbags. All but the LX come standard with a rearview camera. Optional on LX and standard on EX, SX and SX Limited are rear parking sensors and Uvo eServices (geo-fencing, speed alert and curfew alert for secondary drivers). Other available safety technologies include a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and a forward collision mitigation system with automatic emergency braking.
In Edmunds brake testing, an SX V6 needed 121 feet to stop from 60 mph, which is about average.
In government crash tests, the 2017 Sorento received the top five-star rating for overall crash protection, with five stars for total front-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. Likewise, the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 2017 Sorento the best possible score of "Good" in the small-overlap frontal-offset, moderate-overlap frontal offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. The Sorento's seat and head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Kia Sorento is a midsize SUV available in five- and seven-passenger configurations. There are five trim levels: L, LX, EX, SX and SX Limited. Note that the L model, the SX Limited and the EX with the turbocharged engine (EX 2.0T) are five-passenger only, while the EX V6 and the SX are seven-passenger only. The four-cylinder LX comes standard with five-passenger seating and can be optioned with the third row; the LX V6 is seven-passenger only.
The base L comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, stain-resistant fabric upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 40/20/40 split-second-row seats (fold, slide and recline), Bluetooth connectivity, a CD player, satellite radio and USB and auxiliary audio inputs.
The Sorento LX adds a sound-reducing windshield, roof rails, a rearview camera,a 4.3-inch touchscreen interface and two rapid-charge USB ports.
Optional on LX is the Convenience package, which adds Uvo eServices with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, rear parking sensors, an eight-way power driver seat (plus two-way power lumbar), heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. When the V6 engine is specified, the Convenience package also includes a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. The third-row seat can be added to the Convenience package on the four-cylinder LX (it comes standard on LX V6).
The LX's optional Advanced Technology package adds an upgraded instrument cluster with a 7-inch driver information display, a forward collision mitigation system with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and an electronic parking brake.
The Sorento EX comes standard with the LX's Convenience package (except the blind-spot monitor), 18-inch wheels, sound-reducing front side glass, keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles (2.0T engine only) and second-row manual side sunshades. The EX Premium package adds the blind-spot monitor, a 110-volt household-style plug, an adjustable-height hands-free power liftgate, power-folding mirrors and the upgraded instrument cluster. The Advanced Touring package can be added to the Premium package and includes a panoramic sunroof, LED interior lighting and the safety components of the LX's Advanced Technology package.
When you go with the Sorento SX you get the Premium and Advanced Touring package equipment (minus the safety components of the LX's Advanced Technology package) and adds upgraded steering, 19-inch wheels, LED running lights and taillights, special exterior trim, a 10-way power driver seat (plus four-way power lumbar), driver memory settings, an 8-inch touchscreen interface with a navigation system and a 10-speaker Infinity sound system with Clari-Fi digital music improvement technology. Optional on SX is an Advanced Technology package that adds adaptive xenon headlights, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats and the safety components of the LX's Advanced Technology package.
Finally, there's the SX Limited with the full contents of the SX's Advanced Technology package plus chrome-clad 19-inch wheels, LED foglights, upgraded leather upholstery, a leather-and-wood-trimmed steering wheel and heated second-row outboard seats.
A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard on every 2017 Kia Sorento. All-wheel drive is optional on all except the base L trim.
Standard on the L and LX trim levels is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. The EX 2.0T comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Optional on LX and EX, and standard on SX and SX Limited, is a 3.3-liter V6 rated at 290 hp and 252 lb-ft.
According to the EPA, the 2.4-liter engine should return 24 mpg combined (21 mpg city/28 mpg highway) with FWD and 22 mpg combined (21/25) with AWD. The EX 2.0T achieves 23 mpg combined (20/27) with FWD and 22 mpg combined (19/25) with AWD. The V6 yields 20 mpg combined (18/25) with FWD and 19 mpg combined (17/23) with AWD.
Notably, a turbocharged Sorento achieved 23.6 mpg on our standardized 120-mile driving loop, while an SX V6 returned 23.3 mpg. These results suggest that the turbo engine's real-world advantage in fuel economy may be even smaller than the EPA estimates indicate.
In Edmunds track testing, an all-wheel-drive Sorento EX 2.0T loped to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds, a leisurely performance given those healthy output numbers. An all-wheel-drive SX V6 hit 60 mph in 7.6 seconds, an adequate showing for a V6-powered crossover in this class.
Towing capacity is 3,500 pounds with front-wheel drive and 5,000 pounds with all-wheel drive.
There is a marked sense of sophistication in the 2017 Kia Sorento's ride. Even top-of-the-line models with their big 19-inch wheels manage to soak up bumps without harshness. Kia's midsize crossover is also impressively quiet, especially in the EX trim and above, so count the Sorento as a good candidate for a comfortable family road trip.
Every Sorento comes with Driver Mode Select, which features three modes (Normal, Sport and Eco) that alter transmission shift points and steering effort. Although we could detect the changes in the former, it was difficult to differentiate between the steering settings. It's important to note, though, that the SX and SX Limited actually have a different steering system that should yield a greater sense of precision than the other trims. We found it to be a little on the light side, but suitably precise and confidence-inspiring for this class of vehicle.
The base four-cylinder engine sometimes struggles with the Sorento's not-inconsiderable size and weight. Opting for the V6 engine is recommended, as its 290 hp is certainly better suited to a vehicle of this size. If you can live without seven seats, the EX's turbocharged four-cylinder may appeal as an in-between option, but it lacks the low-end punch we've come to expect from modern turbo engines.
Most surfaces in the 2017 Kia Sorento are soft to the touch and richly textured, while available two-tone color schemes accentuate these quality materials. There's enough of a premium look and feel that higher trim levels seem properly luxurious. Much the same can be said for the appealing dashboard design, which happily also includes user-friendly controls. Kia's touchscreens are generally among the simpler electronics interfaces around, with big virtual buttons and clear labeling.
Legroom is generous in the second row, and you can further customize the Sorento for greater comfort or cargo space as the second row seats slide, recline and fold flat via levers in the cargo area. This versatility is present regardless of seating configuration, which isn't always the case in competing SUVs. As for the third-row seat, it's got room for kids or smaller adults; however, larger crossovers like the Toyota Highlander do have more adult-friendly space (as well as seatbelts for eight).
Cargo capacity behind the third row (11.3 cubic feet) is really only good for a pair of small suitcases or several grocery bags. There's roughly 38 cubic feet behind the second-row seat, with maximum capacity reaching up to 73.5 cubes when you fold the second row. That's more than you'll find in many five-passenger midsize SUVs, but less than what a number of competitive three-row crossovers offer.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.