There are two ways a traditional economy automaker can improve its image. One is by creating a new upscale brand, such as Lexus, Acura, Genesis or Infiniti. The other way is harder, but maybe in the end a better choice.
Brands like Audi and BMW produced basic cars in the 1970s, but successfully elevated their public perceptions by producing ever-better cars. That seems to be Kia’s plan as well — and it’s working.
There’s no better example to put forth for Kia’s perceptual transformation than the Sorento. As Kia’s smaller midsize SUV, this is a bread-and-butter family vehicle. With the new X-Line SX-Prestige trim level, Kia shows it can play in the premium space while still keeping the bottom line price under control.
As mentioned, the Kia Sorento is a smaller midsize SUV. It’s smaller than Kia’s popular Telluride SUV (known inside the company as the Sell-You-Ride), but the Sorento still offers seating for six or seven passengers in three rows.
All 2022 Kia Sorento models are powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine. The most affordable LX and S trims offer the engine naturally aspirated with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The midgrade EX and higher trims put a turbocharger on the engine and then pair it with a paddle-shifted 8-speed twin-clutch transmission.
In all cases except the base trim, you can choose all-wheel drive for an extra $1,800 over the base price for the trim level. However, there’s more to it than that. Kia offers an optional X-Line AWD package on top of the SX Prestige trim for $2,000, and this is where the Sorento really brings the value. There are also X-Line packages for the S and EX trims. Among other features and pricing that vary by trim level, X-Line includes all-wheel drive with a locking center differential, and a 1-inch increase in ride height.
From the outside, the Sorento is a better-than-average looking SUV. It’s not different enough from most other SUVs to make you especially love or hate it, however. The most recent redesign came in model year 2021, so the exterior follows current fashion trends. The thing about the Sorento is that it looks very substantial, giving the impression the SUV is bigger than it really is.
Inside, you’ll really see the difference between Kia’s basic and luxury trim levels. As the top trim, the SX Prestige with X-Line delivers comfort and luxury appropriate to a European SUV at a much higher price point.
For example, the X-Line gives you perforated leather on the front seats, with both heat and ventilation, heated second-row individual seats and a heated steering wheel. Our test vehicle came with the optional “Rust” interior color for $200 extra. I’m pretty sure I’d never use the word “rust” to describe any aspect of any vehicle, but then again, I’ve been traumatized by vintage sports cars.
As the top trim level, the Sorento X-Line SX-Prestige AWD comes with the turbocharged engine, delivering 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque, paired with a smooth 8-speed twin-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive. This gives the Sorento plenty of power and yet the Sorento still gives you 22 mpg in the city, and 27 mpg on the highway. It’s worth noting that Kia also produces the Sorento with a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, if you want to maximize your fuel economy.
When equipped with the turbo engine, the Sorento will tow up to 3,500 pounds. That’s enough for a family camper, a boat or a jet-ski, or just a utility trailer for household projects.
Safety and Technology
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rated the 2022 Sorento with four stars for frontal impacts and rollovers, and the full five stars for side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the Sorento as a “Top Safety Pick,” just one plus sign shy of its top rating.
As tested, the SX-Prestige trim includes the Kia Drivewise package. This set of features includes Forward Collision-Avoidance, Blind Spot Avoidance, Lane Keeping Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Safe Exit Assist, Highway Driving Assist, Rear Occupant Alert, High Beam Assist, Smart Cruise Control, Rear Parking Assist and Driver Attention Warning.
The X-line package for SX-Prestige adds on a 360-degree surround view camera system, and a really nifty blind spot view monitor. The blind spot view feature overlays a camera view of the Sorento’s blind spot over the speedometer or tachometer whenever you actuate the turn signal. The only downside is that you have to drop your eyes off the road ahead to see the blind spot view, but you have to do that to check the blind spot anyway, so this is a useful extra.
The X-Line package also adds a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster to the SX-Prestige trim, as well as the standard 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both supported, and there’s a wireless charger in a cubby on the console, right where an ashtray would have gone on an older vehicle.
However, as I’ve been finding a lot lately, the wireless charger does not fit my iPhone 13 Pro Max when the phone is in its protective case. If that’s important to you, be sure to test-fit your phone before buying.
Apart from that, the infotainment system in the Sorento is unremarkable. It’s easy to use, and the Bose Premium Audio system that comes with X-Line sounds great. This is as it should be. Any automaker should be able to deliver a convenient infotainment system. Sadly, many do not.
The Sorento delivers an enjoyable, calm, convenient driving experience. Here again, any automaker should view that as a baseline, but many more expensive SUVs fail to achieve the smooth, quiet ride of the Sorento.
This SUV has no bad habits to speak of, and it will get you where you’re going in comfort. As a family vehicle, that’s the job. The AWD system does its work silently — we couldn’t tell you if it ever activated. But Kia is known for having a well-engineered traction system, and the Sorento will surely be able to tackle any winter weather.
2022 Kia Sorento X-Line SX Premium AWD specifications
|Dimension||L: 189 inches/W: 74.8 inches/H: 66.7 inches/Wheelbase: 110.8 inches|
|Powertrain||2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, 8-speed dual-clutch transmission and AWD|
|Fuel Economy||22 mpg city/27 mpg highway/24 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $43,190; As tested: $45,120 including $1,175 destination charge.|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
The 2022 Kia Sorento starts at $29,590 for the basic LX trim and ranges up to $43,190 for the X-Line SX-Prestige AWD trim. X-Line features are also available in the low-mid X-Line S AWD trim at $34,390 and in the midgrade X-Line EX AWD trim at $39,190.
Wherever your budget comfort zone is, you should absolutely choose one of the X-Line trims, because the value proposition for the features in X-Line is crazy good. If you can afford it, getting the top X-Line SX-Prestige is a great value, because you’re getting an SUV with at least as much stuff as the Germans will offer, at a much lower price.
2022 Kia Sorento X-Line SX Premium — Frequently Asked Questions
Does the Kia Sorento have a good warranty?
Yes, at 10 years or 100,000 miles, the Kia general warranty is the best you can get from any automaker.
Is the Kia Sorento a reliable car?
According to repairpal.com, The Kia Sorento Reliability Rating is 4 out of 5, which ranks it 12th out of 26 for compact SUVs. The average annual repair cost is $533 which means it has lower than average ownership costs.
Which is bigger, the Kia Sorento or Kia Telluride?
The Kia Telluride is longer than the Sorento by almost 8 inches, and it is also wider, which gives the Telluride more interior space for passengers and cargo. The Telluride will seat up to 8 passengers, while the Sorento seats six or seven, depending on its configuration.