Kia Sorento SUV offers three rows, top crash safety results

The 2017 Kia Sorento is a mid-size crossover that delivers oft-coveted third-row seating and the even more rare 100,000-mile Kia warranty. The ability to seat seven puts Sorento in an exclusive club, and Sorento impresses with its interior dimensions and excellent fuel economy.

In its 2016 redesign, this new Sorento got an uptick in its wheelbase and length by about three inches to increase cabin space and inch out the closest competition from Toyota and Honda.

The Sorento is an attractive mid-size SUV that looks modern, sophisticated and flowing, aerodynamic on the highway and around town. Long, lean lines and a tight nose make the available space inside ample. Look for standard 17-inch rims with bigger upgrades available.

Inside the Sorento you will find soft-touch surfaces and wide, comfortable seating. While top-line Limited models get soft leather seats, the base and mid lines are equally accommodating.

A contemporary dash blends straightforward backlit gauges with easy-to-see technology highlights and warnings. The front-row and second-row seats are comfortable, but the third row is smallish. Cargo space behind the third row is limited, but fold the seats down and there’s plenty of room for larger items. A hidden rear subfloor on lower trim models is a huge benefit to storage.

Kia’s Smart Liftgate makes it even easier to open the Sorento’s optional power hatch when your hands are full by eliminating the need for a push button on the SUV’s key fob and allowing you to simply stand near the rear for a few seconds with the fob in your pocket, and the liftgate opens.

The Sorento offers three powerplants. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder base engine delivers a respectable 185 horsepower, while a robust 3.3-liter V-6 offers up 290 horsepower. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque is a game changer for this size vehicle. I tested this setup, and it was a surprisingly responsive engine.

Mated to a standard six-speed automatic transmission, each powertrain offers either a front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive option. Look for a locking differential that splits the drive 50/50 front/rear. The V-6 is best for towing with its 5,000-pound rating.

The base 2.4-liter engine gets an EPA-estimated 21 mpg city, 29 highway and 24 combined. The V-6 drops to 17/23/19 mpg, and the new turbo four 20/27/23 mpg. All those specs are with front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive brings the mileage down by one mile per gallon.

The Sorento earns top crash test results in all five categories from the IIHS, as well as five stars from the NHTSA. Standard safety equipment includes side airbags and active head rests in front, and side and curtain airbags with rollover sensor. Extensive active safety features are available.

The 2017 Kia Sorento mid-size SUV packs value, good looks, a load of amenities and one of the best warranties in the business. The 2017 Sorento L has a base price of $25,400 for the four-cylinder with front- or all-wheel drive and a high-water mark of $43,900 for the V-6-powered SX Limited. An amply packed equipment package, the warranty and AWD make it an uncompromising consideration in this segment.

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