What would you do if you had three days to review and assess the 2021 Kia Sorento? I’d drive it as much as I could!
That’s what I attempted to do when I was one of the first to get behind the wheel of the 2021 Kia Sorento – and this one is a HYBRID!
Before I get all super excited about this vehicle and the fact that’s it’s en extremely capable hybrid, lets talk about where this vehicle fits and who it’s for.
The Current Kia SUV Line-Up
This isn’t 20 years ago. People are excited about what Kia is offering and their SUVs are no small exception. Kia now offers five vehicles that either loosely or solidly fit into their SUV line-up and here’s a quick comparison.
|Model||Starting Price||Passengers||What It Is|
|Kia Soul||$17,490||5||Segment busting crossover offering versatility with space.|
|Kia Seltos||$21,990||5||Entry-level subcompact SUV designed for urban living.|
|Kia Sportage||$23,990||5||Compact SUV with two row seating|
|Kia Sorento||$29,390||6-7||Compact SUV with three row seating|
|Kia Telluride||$31,990||7-8||Full size SUV with three row seating|
I’ve driven all of them and reviewed four out of five of them. Admittedly, I’m a fan of all of them for one reason or another. But I’ve made no secret that I have a strong love for the Kia Telluride and would love to see one permanently parked in my driveway.
Alas, everyone else feels the same way and Kia Telluride can be challenging to come by and definitely priced at MSRP or above.
If you have your heart set on a Telluride or you’re looking for something similar in a slightly smaller package or you’re looking for a compact SUV that gives you a little more versatility with a third row, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what the 2021 Kia Sorento has to offer.
The Best of the 2021 Kia Sorento
The 2021 Kia Sorento is an all new redesign. That means it’s different from the inside out. And considering I already thought it was a good family car, they didn’t have much to improve upon. Here’s what they did change.
The design is bolder on the outside and on the inside. You’ll find more geometric lines that should evoke a love it or hate it feeling. That’s good. You want people to be passionate about their cars.
At first glance on the Kia website, I was not excited but seeing it in person, the design definitely grew on me.
The engine is more and less. They’ve eliminated the V6 but provided a 2.4L inline 4 cylinder turbo. That means good power, better fuel economy.
They’ve also also added a turbocharged hybrid engine to the pack (what I drove) that provides 227 hp and 258 lb ft of torque. It’s fast and extremely responsive, especially in sport mode. Don’t believe me? It moves from 0-60 in 7.7 seconds. I wouldn’t put it on a racetrack but you’d be surprised at how quickly it moves.
That means amazing fuel economy. Kia is quick to tell you they offer best in class fuel economy with 37 mpg (beating the Toyota Highlander by 1 mpg). If you’re not driving hybrid, you’ll still see an average of 25 mpg.
Hello, wireless Apple CarPlay. When I reviewed the Honda Pilot, I dreamed of technology that would allow me to take advantage of the Qi wireless charging but still be able to connect my iPhone and use CarPlay.
That day is today. Although it was a little flaky at times (I had to disconnect and reconnect to get the display to stay up) and the wireless charging can make your phone very hot, it’s everything I’ve ever wanted in connectivity!
(Android users are covered too with wireless Android Auto.)
Comfortable seating can be had by all! I personally love this new trend of option captain’s chair seating in the second row. It’s your choice – make it a 6 passenger or 7 passenger vehicle. And it’s got a spacious and roomy interior.
More safety features than ever. Kia offers a tremendous amount of driver-assist technology (that, for some reason, never falls under the “safety” category). What I though was particularly cool was the addition of a Driver’s Knee Airbag, a frequent point of injury in collisions.
So it’s all rainbows and kittens in the Sorento, right? Almost.
What’s Missing from the Kia Sorento
There are a few things that didn’t meet my expectations and when I addressed most of them with Kia directly, they let me know “they’re coming.”
Here’s what didn’t measure up for me.
The Hybrid is only available in FWD… for now. If I want an SUV, I want AWD capability. Kia assures me it will be available in a future version of the hybrid. In the meantime, if you’re environmentally conscious but want that AWD, their plug-in hybrid (PHEV) is due out in 2021 and will only be AWD.
No spare tire available. There’s a WELL-HIDDEN difficult to access spare tire! This has never personally been an issue for me but when it’s an issue, it’s an issue. Kia has been moving to a Tire Mobility Kit (think patch-a-flat) which ends up ultimately reducing the overall weight and providing more cargo space. But in this case, the tire is there but snug up under the vehicle. Hope you don’t need it in a hurry!
No heated steering wheel. Ah, to be privileged enough to complain about my fingers not being warm. Yes, it’s minor and picky but in a vehicle that has virtually everything else, I felt like this was missing. Kia assures me I’ll see this in a future model (likely the PHEV).
No earth tones available on hybrid. While you may like the bold reds and blues, I’ve always liked those muted tones that aren’t available on the hybrid. I actually asked Kia about this! While the Kia Sorento is produced in their West Point, GA factory, the hybrid is produced in Korea and is limited to the options that are suited to that country (guess they don’t like earth tones!).
The jury is still out on the design. I hated it. And then I liked it. And I haven’t reached love yet. There’s a lot going on in the interior between the stamped aluminum access, geometric air vents, and patterned seats.
And on the outside, it looks like a bigger, bolder Kia from the front but a Mustang in the back (fight me on that one). I can’t fault them for any of it though. I’d rather have a design that I have feelings for than to be completely ambivalent.
Now it’s your turn. Take a look and let me know what you think about the 2021 Kia Sorento.