Kia Sorento — From horsepower to great gas mileage

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(April 13, 2022) Kia has given buyers of its mid-sized three-row fourth-generation Sorento sport utility vehicle, which was introduced as an all-new model for 2021, compelling choices for 2022 with four distinct powertrains and six trim levels. Kia has kept the Sorento affordable offering a model for every pocketbook from the base LX starting at $30,895 to the loaded X-Line SX Prestige at $44,405. And for 2022 a new plug-in hybrid SX Prestige begins at $46,405.

The fourth-gen Sorento, which has garnered its share of automotive awards since entering the marketplace about 18 months ago, carried three powertrain choices for 2021 — a base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder making 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, a turbocharged 2.5-liter generating 281 hp and 311 pound-feet of torque, and a hybrid featuring the combination of a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder and a 44.0-kW electric motor together generating 227 horsepower.

Now Kia has extended its electric range with a plug-in version of the hybrid featuring the same engine and transmission, but with a 66.9-kW electric motor together producing 261 horsepower. While all-wheel drive is not avail with the standard hybrid, the new plug-in version is offered only in AWD — and it can tow up to 3,500 pounds. As a bonus, the plug-in hybrid can travel 32 miles on pure electric. Using both gas and electric power, the plug-in hybrid is rated at 79 MPGe. With gas only, combined mpg is EPA-rated at 34 mpg.

The new plug-in version does not come cheap, but qualifies for a federal tax rebate of $6,587. The SX trim is $46,405 and the SX Prestige trim stickers for a whopping $49,305 including destination charge.

The Sorento comes in six trim levels — LX, S, EX, SX, SX Prestige, and SX Prestige X-Line. The bigger engine comes in the EX and higher trims. We got our taste of the turbocharged engine in the top line SX Prestige X-Line. The X-Line package with an upgraded all-wheel-drive system includes a locking center differential and downhill descent control, one-inch of additional ground clearance, unique bumpers front and rear, a roof rack, and 20-inch matte finish alloy wheels.

If your off roading is limited to a few weekend trips to your favorite rutted-path fishing hole and you don't need the admittedly good-looking exterior treatments, but you desire all-wheel drive and the bigger engine with its 3,500-pound towing capacity, the EX for thousands less brings a full load of safety technology, an impressive 12.3-inch fully digital gauge display and a 10.3 inch touchscreen.

While all-wheel drive is standard in the SX lineups, it's a $1,800 option in all other trim levels.

The turbocharged 2.5-liter turbo brings satisfying performance measured at about 6.5 seconds with smooth and timely shifts from the eight-speed. While it might not be the sportiest vehicle in the segment, we found it was well planted and handled our usual winding back-road "test track" in good fashion. In addition to a nimble feeling through the corners, the Sorento's interior is quiet and the ride comfortable.

The turbocharged engine also brings surprisingly good gas mileage measured on regular gas at 22 mpg city, 29 highway and 26 combined in front-wheel drive, and 21/28/24 with AWD. That's nearly as good as the smaller 2.5-liter at 24/29/26 in FWD. If gas mileage is imperative, opt for the Hybrid with an excellent 39/35/37.

The Sorento's exterior styling is spot-on with crisp lines, bold fascias and distinctive details exuding a stylish rugged elegance. The Kia signature "tiger nose" grille similar to the larger and very popular Telluride resides up front. In fact, we thought the Sorento looked like a slightly downsized version of Telluride. And that's a good thing. The interior is spacious and well designed. And for the first time, captain's chairs are available for the second row.

The new crossover is totally an American product designed inside and out at Kia's Irving, Calif., studio.The interior design blends tall-vertical-shaped air vents, integrated ambient lighting, and intricately stitched surfaces on the door panels and seat inserts. The center console hosts a rotary shift knob as well as a drive-mode selector and other vehicle functions. A variety of storage spots and cupholders are located in the console.

Infotainment and connectivity features are extremely important these days, and the Sorento is at the forefront of new-car technology, supporting loads of desirable content. It comes standard with an 8.0-inch or the aforementioned optional 10.3-inch touchscreen. Along with a wireless charging pad, there's also a 12-speaker Bose sound system available for those who prefer an upscale audio experience. And we can attest to its pleasing sound.

If you use the third row for little passengers — it's a tight fit for adults — it will cut into your cargo space leaving only 12.6 cubic feet behind the seat. However, if you choose to keep the rear-most seats folded, cargo space increases to 38.5 cubic feet, and balloons to 75.5 cubic feet with all rear seatbacks folded.

The base LX starting at $30,805 and is well equipped with the standard 191-horsepower engine, seven-passenger seating, 8-inch infotainment screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, and such safety features as forward collision mitigation, driver attention warning, lane departure mitigation, lane keep system, and backup camera. The lineup tops out with the SX Prestige X-Line. Our X-line test vehicle carried a bottom line of $45,120 including a $1,170 destination charge.

Like its big brother the Telluride, we think the Sorento with its choice of drivetrains, eye-catching styling, standard safety features, and all-around comfort and utility will become one of the most popular crossover in the compact/mid-size segment.

2022 Kia Sorento SX Prestige X-Line


Base price: $44,445; as driven, $45,120
Engine: turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 281 @ 5,800 rpm
Torque: 311 foot-pounds @ 1,700 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/2/3
Wheelbase: 110.8 inches
Length: 189 inches
Curb weight: 4,120 pounds
Turning circle: 37.9 feet
Luggage capacity: 12.6/38.5 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 75.5 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds
Fuel capacity: 17.7 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 22 city, 27 highway, 24 combined
0-60: 6.5 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Honda Passport, Toyota Venza, Nissan Murano

The Good
• Energetic turbocharged engine
• Easy-to-use infotainment system
• Loaded with safety tech
• Plug-in hybrid now available

The Bad
• Small cargo area with third row in use

The Ugly
• Price can top 50 grand with plug-in hybrid