X-Line upgrades give 2021 Kia Sorento more off-road chops

By Paul Borden

(April 9, 2021) A hybrid drivetrain was not the only feature Kia added when it gave its Sorento midsize SUV a makeover for this year. The 2021 Kia Sorento SX Prestige X-Line is designed for those looking for more off-road capability with a slightly higher ground clearance, improved approach/departure angles, and a more capable roof rack than outgoing Sorento models.

It also has more power. The 2.5-liter, turbo 4-cylinder is rated at 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque, a jump of 90 hp and 130 lb.ft. over the base Sorento LX model.

It is mated with an 8-speed dual clutch automatic transmission that comes with paddle shifters and an extra Snow mode to take advantage of the all-wheel drive configuration to go along with Comfort, Sport, Smart, and Eco.

Mileage figures of 21 miles-per-gallon city, 28 highway, and 24 combined are competitive for its class.

As befitting a model at the top of the top of the Sorento trim options, the Sorento SX Prestige X-Line offers a long list of features that are covered by the starting MSRP of $42,590, making adding expensive options unnecessary.

Those features included navigation with a 10.25-inch touchscreen display, rear view camera with dynamic guidelines, Bluetooth wireless technology, wireless charger and USB outlets in all three rows, one-touch slide-and-go second row captain’s chairs, dual-zone climate control, heated power front seats, keyless entry and push-button start, and Kia’s UVO suite of connected services.

A panoramic sunroof with a power sunshade, hands-free open and close rear lift gate, and LED projection headlights, tail lamps, and fog lights also are included.

Lots of safety systems are included, though you, like I, may find the Highway Driving Assist features gives the steering a bit of an unsettling, odd feel. Other safety systems include blind-spot assist, forward collision prevention assist, rear cross-traffic assist, lane keeping and lane following assist.

There’s also an alert that lets you know when a vehicle ahead of you has begun to move after being stopped at an intersection in case you didn’t notice. I often have the same alert function just to my right when I am driving.

Special additions to the SX Prestige X-Line model replacing SX features include 20-inch alloy wheels, X-Line front and rear bumper fascias, matte trim accents, special X-Line roof rails, leather seat trim, Bose premium sound, a surround-view camera, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, heated steering wheel, parking collision assistance (reverse), and aluminum sport pedals.

The only extras on my test vehicle were an X-Line rush inhibitor package, carpeted floor mats, and carpeted cargo mat with rear seat protection. Those features ran the final bottom line to $44,285 including the $1,170 destination and delivery fee.

What I liked about the 2021 Kia Sorento SX Prestige X-Line: The interior is very classy.. Seats are very comfortable and well-suited for road trips, and fuel efficiency is good for its class. The upgrade to the X-Line from the SX adds many features as standard. Infotainment features — and there are many of the included — are user-friendly. Adaptable cruise control makes highway cruising comfortable, and I like the cameras that display what’s in your blind spot when you activate your turn signal.

What I didn’t like about the 2021 Kia Sorento SX Prestige X-Line: Cargo space when the third-row seats are in place is extremely limited. Most of the 12.6 cubic feet capacity is vertical space as there is very little room to put items on the floor. If you need the third row for trips, you’re going to have to store baggage on the roof. Fortunately, upgraded roof rails are included in the X-Line‘s list of standard features. Some of the driver assist features take some getting used to.

Would I buy the 2021 Kia Sorento SX Prestige X-Line? Yes. My son’s young daughters gave this one an enthusiastic endorsement. They hadn’t been in it five minutes climbing in the back, raising and lowering the seats, and checking out the panoramic sunroof when they told me, “You should keep this one!” Even if you don’t have small children (or grandchildren) the 2021 Kia Sorento SX Prestige X-Line is a good crossover SUV for empty-nesters as well. Storage with the back seats folded is a spacious 38.5 cubic feet.