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A Review of the 2014 Kia Sorento SX AWD: Sporty, Roomy and Surprisingly Luxurious

The Kia brand has come a very long way over the past decade and the 2014 Kia Sorento SX AWD is a shining example of the automaker’s progress – offering an impressive list of amenities inside and out in a roomy, sporty midsized SUV that packs a price under $40k.

There was a point in time where the Kia lineup was all about a low sticker price, but the days of Kia making “cheap little cars” is long gone and the 2014 Kia Sorento SX AWD is a clear indicator of how much the brand has evolved. This midsized SUV is everything that the early Kias were not with a big, roomy cabin packed full of high tech goodies and a powerful drivetrain that sends power to all four wheels while still offering solid fuel economy. Best of all, the 2014 Sorento offers a long list of features at a much lower price point than comparably equipped competition.

The subject of this review was a 2014 Kia Sorento SX AWD – which means that it was one step from the top of the line package with just the Limited sitting above the SX AWD. The SX package comes with so many standard features that there are no optional packages for the SX other than AWD and the 3rd row seats, both of which my test vehicle featured. In total, my test vehicle carried a price of $38,550. Honestly, I wouldn’t bother with the 3rd row seats (I will explain why in the interior section of the review) so you can enjoy all of the features of the Sorento SX AWD for under $38,000 before you do any haggling…thousands less than some other vehicles in the midsized SUV segment with similar features.

The Exterior
There is no question that the current Kia lineup relies on a design that stands out in the crowd and the 2014 Sorento SX AWD is no different from the rest of its siblings. Some critics of the brand will complain that all of their vehicles look too similar to each other, but in the case of the Sorento – I find those similarities to the likes of the Optima and Forte to be a good thing.

2014 Sorento SX front

The most attractive portion of the 2014 Kia Sorento SX is the big, bold front end that features common design cues with the rest of the brand and that leads to one sporty looking SUV. The LED trimmed projection headlights are sharply angled and they flow beautifully into the huge grille which is wrapped in chrome and filled with a unique oval mesh design. The inner portion of the large upper grille bears the same flared design that we see in different forms on the rest of the modern Kia vehicles and when combined with the connected headlights creates a look that I really like. There is a unique air opening mounted in the middle of what some might call the bumper portion of the front fascia with large fog lights mounted vertically on the outer corners of the lower fascia. Another strongly angled grille is found in the lower fascia with a silver roll pan design lining the bottom edge of this sporty front end. I like SUVs that have a look that is truly sporty and the fact of the 2014 Sorento is unquestionably very sporty.

2014 Sorento SX side

Along the sides, the 2014 Kia Sorento SX has a long, level roofline that helps this midsized SUV to offer a great amount of interior head room, but it also bolsters the sporty feel that starts up front. Kia has infused strong body lines that almost all angle upwards as they reach the rear of the vehicle and that creates a very “fast look” from the side. All of the lines along the sides invite your eyes upwards as you scan from front to rear with body colored wheel opening moldings wrapping tightly around the standard 18 inch aluminum wheels…furthering the sporty attitude of the Sorento. To add a touch of class to the outside of this sporty utility vehicle, the company has added chrome door handles, chrome roof bars and a simple chrome strip running along the bottom of the side glass while LED filled side mirrors tack on some high tech feel.

2014 Sorento rear

Out back, you won’t find any chrome outside of the oval exhaust tip, but you will find more sharp, aggressive lines that finish off the 2014 Sorento SX in a very fitting way. The LED taillights are big, bright and designed with angles that make this rear end stand out in a crowd. Above the rear lights is a huge, darkly tinted rear window that allows great visibility to the driver and this rear glass is part of a large rear door that allows great access to the rear cargo area for those loading large items. Along the bottom of the rear end of the new Sorento is a grille area that matches what we see up front and another silver roll pan design that wraps down under the rear end.

The odds are good that if you don’t like the general design language of the Kia brand – you won’t like the 2014 Sorento. However, I really like the aggressive, sport style of the Kia design language and I love how the Korean automaker was able to apply this look to their midsized SUV.

The Interior
The 2014 Kia Sorento SX AWD isn’t the very top of the line package, but you wouldn’t be hard pressed to know that when you are sitting in the driver’s seat. In fact, the pricier Sorento Limited package only adds Nappa leather and heated rear seats – showing just how much the Sorento SX has to offer buyers. From top to bottom, front to back, the Sorento SX really doesn’t leave you wanting for much outside of those heated 2nd row seats.

2014 sorento sx front seats

The front seats, rear seats, center armrest, door mounted armrests, steering wheel and gauge cluster cap of the 2014 Sorento SX are all wrapped in soft black leather with white contrasting stitching to give it that sport luxury look. The front seats are both heated and cooled, providing plenty of passenger space in every direction for the driver and the front passenger; even across the middle armrest where things can get a little tight in the midsized SUV segment. The lowish front seating position allows plenty of headroom for taller occupants while the plush, soft front seats make for a very comfortable ride. My one criticism of the front seats is that they don’t offer a whole lot of lateral support during hard cornering, but considering that most midsized SUV buyers don’t do much hard cornering, this is a very minor complaint.

2014 sorento sx rear seats

The second row of seats of the 2014 Sorento SX offers a great deal of leg, knee, shoulder, elbow and head room with a fold down portion over the center seat that serves as both an armrest and a dual cupholder. Like so many other center second row seats, putting someone in this middle spot cramps things up a bit in the back, but this position is slightly wider and more comfortable than other vehicles in the class. My Sorento SX also came equipped with the third row seat option and while it provides an extra pair of seats – it is pretty tight in the third row for adults and larger children. It is also kind of tough for a larger person to get back to the third row of seats so were I buying a new Sorento tomorrow, the rearmost seats are not something that I would order. The nice thing is that the third row folds down quickly and easily, making for a huge rear cargo area. How huge, you ask? Well, huge enough to load in 250 pounds of bagged horse feed with plenty of space to spare…as shown in the image below. This is a big cargo area with a huge opening so whether you are loading in one massive box or a whole bunch of smaller items – the Sorento offers a very impressive amount of cargo space.

sorento cargo

The key attraction of the 2014 Kia Sorento SX is the UVO infotainment system that is controlled by a big, bright 8 inch touchscreen. This screen puts controls of the phone system, the navigation system and the entire sound system at the driver’s fingertips, but for drivers who don’t ever like taking their hands off of the wheel – the Sorento has controls for almost everything in the infotainment package across the array of buttons on the steering wheel. It should be noted that this infotainment package also has traditional knobs and buttons for the control of the sound system and navigation program located just below the 8” screen for those who don’t enjoy touchscreen technology. Finally, for those things that cannot be controlled by the steering wheel controls, the UVO system is also equipped with a high quality voice control system that does a great job of understanding and executing commands quickly. Accompanying the high tech infotainment system is a similarly high tech digital speedometer with a configurable driver’s information center in the middle, push button start and a dual zone climate control system featuring traditional buttons and knobs in a panel just below the infotainment setup.

sorento dash

One final interior feature that is more common to luxury models than to affordable midsized SUVs like the 2014 Sorento SX is the massive panoramic sunroof. This glass roof treatment starts just behind the sun visors up front and extends to just past the headrests of the second row seats…allowing front and rear riders the sunroof experience on clear days and nights. The front portion of this huge glass roof retracts to just past the front seats and when the sun is cooking the occupants on a hot day, there is a power sunshade that turns the glass roof into a traditional looking ceiling at the push of a button. Again, this huge glass roof is standard on the Sorento SX and it might just be one of my favorite stand-out features.

sorento glass roof

The 2014 Kia Sorento SX is packed with pretty much every feature that you can expect from a modern SUV. Aside from the fact that this stuff is all packed into a Kia, none of these features are all that surprising but when you consider the fact that these features are all STANDARD in a roomy SUV that has a sticker price that is well below that of the competition, the long list of features becomes far more surprising. Comfortable seats, lots of space for people and storage, a high tech infotainment system and a gorgeous glass roof for $38,000? How can you not love it?

The Drive
The 2014 Kia Sorento SX AWD comes powered by a standard 3.3L V6 that sends 290 horsepower and 252lb-ft of torque to all four wheels by means of a 6-speed automatic transmission and an advanced all wheel drive system. This drivetrain is expected to deliver fuel economy figures of 18mpg around town, 24mpg on the highway and an average of 20mpg over the course of a tank of gasoline. In my time driving the Sorento SX AWD, I found those numbers to be very accurate and I averaged 20.6 miles per gallon during my even mix of highway and city driving.

More importantly (to me and some other consumers around the US), that 3.3L V6 makes the 2014 Sorento one of the most powerful options in the midsized SUV segment. While this Korean SUV isn’t going to be beating down any sports cars, this drivetrain provides plenty of power to get the Sorento away from a stop light with quite a bit of enthusiasm. This engine also allows you plenty of acceleration to merge into fast moving traffic safely and in the event that you are in a big hurry, the Sorento SX AWD will very comfortably blow away any posted speed limit that I have seen. You aren’t going to dominate the local racing scene but unlike so many SUVs, the Sorento doesn’t force the driver to suffer when executing any sort of maneuver that requires some quick power on demand.

2014 Sorento SX road

I was a bit disappointed that the 2014 Kia Sorento SX AWD doesn’t have the same steering wheel mounted paddle shifter system that I have loved on other current Kia products, but that has very little real world impact on how great this midsized SUV is to drive. The suspension setup of the Sorento is soft enough that it dampens the roughness of local Detroit highways and does a very admirable job of handling some of the miserably unpaved roads around Milford Michigan. However, the Sorento offers this smooth, comfortable ride without also offering a spongy, floating feeling like you get with some vehicles that try too hard to be smooth at higher speeds. Best of all, this suspension system is well tuned enough that it can offer a smooth ride while still offering a surprising amount of rigidity under hard steering so while it won’t handle like the smaller Kia Sportage – the Sorento is a midsized SUV that I would call nimble as vehicles in this class go.

One feature that helps make the 2014 Sorento SX AWD so great to drive is Kia’s three mode adjustable steering system. The driver can pick between Normal, Comfort and Sport steering modes with the push of a button on the steering wheel. Sport provides less power assist, more feedback and a better feel for the road while cornering. Comfort adds extra steering assist for those who don’t care about road feel and Normal is a great mix of the two – with a middle of the road approach to both power assist and road feel. Switching from one mode to the next is very noticeable and I really enjoyed the steering feel and feedback of the Sport mode.

2014 sorento sx grass

The Sorento is offers both a more comfortable ride than I expected and better handling than I expected; feeling very confident both in tight quarters and on big sweeping highway turns at higher speeds. Of course, the optional all wheel drive system allows for impressive levels of surefootedness in winter weather or on roads lined with thick, sloppy mud. I don’t know that I would be looking to do much real offroading with the fairly low riding Sorento, but drivers of this roomy midsized ute can confidently tackle the worst road conditions while enjoying an engaging, sporty drive in clear weather.

The Final Word
Truth be told, there are very few compromises made to drive and love the 2014 Kia Sorento SX AWD relative to the other midsized SUVs sold in America. The Sorento offers plenty of power and solid fuel economy, a high tech infotainment package that will hang with anything in the segment, a sporty exterior design and a roomy, comfortable interior – all of which combine to make for a great vehicle whether you are driving to work or driving across the state. If you are looking for a midsized SUV that offers the all of the luxuries that the segment has to offer, but you want to save thousands of dollars over the competitors from bigger automakers, the 2014 Kia Sorento is most definitely a vehicle that you should drive before making your next big purchase.


Aaron Turpen    March 15, 2014 - 10:57PM

Really enjoyed this when I had it to test drive. BTW, the rear cargo, with the second row folded down, will accommodate a full queen-sized air mattress. Add in that great panoramic roof.. viola! Date machine. :)