2021 Kia Sorento SX Prestige X-Line Test Drive
In its entire existence, from the body-on-chassis SUV to the unibody crossover, the Kia Sorento hasn’t had as many goals as in the all-new 2021 model. Do you need an entry-level three-row? A hybrid SUV? How about a sleek and luxurious family car? You can get a 2021 Kia Sorento in all of these guises, but this time we’re looking at another flavor: the new X-Line package that adds a dollop of ruggedness. When applied to the premium SX Prestige trim like our test car was, it looks very appealing in many ways. It’s sleek, packed with great tech, and even a usable third row. And even in this truly high-end finish, it represents good value for money compared to the competition. Its only real weakness is that it isn’t as fancy or as appealing as some of the other options.
As the name suggests, we’re looking at two things with this 2021 Sorento SX Prestige X-Line. The SX Prestige toe cap refers to the highest level of trim, packed with all the comfort, convenience and luxury features available. . Next, X-Line effectively refers to a package, also available on the EX trim for $ 2,100, that gives the Sorento a touch of Subaru Outback woody flavor. It includes different front and rear bumper guards with faux aluminum skid plate accents, matte black plastic coating on the sides instead of shiny black, functional and stylish roof rails, and the option of green. Aruba from our test car. In addition to its off-road chops, a standard all-wheel drive, a locking center differential, and additional ground clearance of 1.3 inches over regular Sorentos for a total of 8.2 inches. That’s maybe less than the Outback’s 8.7 inches, but well north of most other midsize crossovers, including an inch taller than the GMC Acadia AT4, a similarly sized three-row with styling. and more robust tires.
Both X-Line versions get the Sorento’s 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. This is the crown jewel of the Sorento driving experience. Its punchy power delivery, especially early in the line, makes it quick and never laborious. It is also very quiet at low revs. It does get a bit gruff as the revs rise (horsepower starts to drop there, too), but overall it’s a superb engine, especially for this use case. Fuel economy is slightly above average compared to other turbocharged four-cylinder and V6 engines, with 21 mpg in the city, 28 on the highway and 24 combined.
The engine is mated to an automated eight-speed dual-clutch manual transmission, and it’s a good one, but maybe not a segment leader. While driving, one has the impression that a very skillful person changes manual gearbox. There is a very slight pause between ratios, but the changes are smooth. Above all, it is much smoother and more confident when stationary than the older Hyundai and Kia dual-clutch models. The transmission does a good job of selecting gears, keeping rpm and noise low in Eco and Comfort drive modes while keeping them longer in Sport mode. If you want to change manually, that’s a nice experience too, with the transmission making changes quickly with each pull, if not as fast as some automatic and dual-clutch transmissions in luxury cars.
As for the ride and handling, they are average to poor. The ride is quite springy and has a tendency to rock side to side on bumps. He also likes to lean in turns. I haven’t tested another Sorento with the lower base suspension yet, so it’s unclear to what extent this was the result of the X-Line’s greater ground clearance. Either way, such uninspired handling is hardly a deciding factor for a three-row family crossover, but it’s worth noting that it’s not particularly rewarding to drive. At least the steering is quick and has good progressive weighting, if not a lot of feel.
The interior of the Sorento makes some very good first impressions. It has a nice low dash with a great mix of colors and textures. Geometric air vents and bevelled edges reinforce the more truck-like image that Kia is trying to achieve. Most of the details are also very good. The displays for instruments and infotainment are bright and crisp. Animations for the transition between instrument themes are smooth and detailed, and interaction with systems is quick and smooth. The entire gear is firm and sturdy, without any movement or play. And everything is within reach, including the much-loved physical climate and stereo controls. The leather is also beautiful on the seats.
That being said, there are a few disappointments in the cabin. The matte finish wood trim is fake and it looks like it. It looks a bit like cheap vinyl wrap. The good news is that by opting for a black leather interior, you are swapping an aluminum-look trim that has a nicer finish. And when it comes to the trim, there are a few areas, like in the front door handles, where the plastic trim has rather sharp edges that seem unseemly for the SX Prestige’s design and price.
Seating in the Sorento is about average. There is plenty of room for the front occupants, and the second row for that matter. Even the third row is usable by adults. We don’t recommend that adults sit there for long periods of time, as the seats are basically on the floor, putting your knees close to your shoulders, but they do work for short runs. They even offer enough space without compromising the comfort of second-row passengers. The spring-loaded second row also provides quick and easy access to the third row, and there are even switches in the cargo area to fold them down. The Sorento also has very usable cargo space, with 12.6 cubic feet behind the third row, 45 behind the second, and 75 with all seats folded down. The main problem with seating: the front seats are strangely firm and flat and have become uncomfortable on long journeys.
Now we come to this high price. In total, our SX Prestige X-Line test car was $ 44,285 from a starting point of $ 43,760 (the EX version costs $ 40,065). It’s a good distance from the Sorento base which starts at $ 30,560, but you get all. Included are 20-inch wheels, panoramic sunroof, leather interior, 12.3-inch instrument display, 10.25-inch infotainment screen, Bose audio system and all available safety features for the Sorento. There’s actually only one option from the factory, and that’s the tan leather color choice for $ 200 that our test car wore in addition to a handful of extras installed by. the dealer.
So there is no denying that you are getting a lot of equipment for the money. A price tag of $ 44,000 can be a lot of money, but it’s hard to get the same amount of tech and luxury features this cheap elsewhere. Consider how it stacks up two equally smaller-than-average three-row crossovers. The premium Signature trim of the Mazda CX-9 starts at $ 47,980 (although there is something to be said for its superior interior quality and driving experience), while the GMC Acadia Denali starts at $ 49,300. before option packs and the V6 engine push the price even higher. You also can’t apply smooth road upgrades like the X-Line’s to the premium Mazda or GMC trims.
And what about Kia’s other three-row crossover, the Telluride? There’s certainly a case to be made that its extra size and refinement would be well worth the premium, but a comparably equipped Telluride SX Prestige still costs $ 47,915. And that is if you could even find one for a sticker on a dealership lot. There is also no comparable X-Line version of the Telluride.
So, the bottom line is that the Kia Sorento is a solid and versatile crossover. And it’s packed with style, power, and awesome features. It also manages to be a strong value down to the flashiest spec. And as long as you’re willing to sacrifice a little driving fun and refinement, it’s hard to outperform in the small three-row segment.