2015 Kia Sorento Driving Impressions

The Kia Sorento is marketed as a compact crossover utility, but is big and heavy by the standards of the class, with curb weights crowding two tons, so the Sorento scores lower EPA ratings than its competitors in that CUV class. The weight also steals from that wished-for nimble driving experience. We forget we’re talking about a seven-passenger vehicle here, so when you put nimble in that context, we’d say it’s way so.

At the least, we’d say it’s tight, and the ride is firm and compatible, without the jagged edges that you get in an Acura RDX, to which the Sorento compares favorably, in the handling department. The Flex Steer option conveys on-center tactility, particularly in Sport mode. After experimenting with all three settings, we left it in Sport, which made steering effort higher but handling more precise.

The brakes have gratifying power with excellent pedal feel and easy modulation.

We put 764 miles on our loaded Sorento SX AWD, including filling it with cargo on a northwest road trip in rainy fall weather, and it passed every test. The powertrain felt perfect, especially the smooth 6-speed automatic transmission, without paddles but not needed. The V6 engine’s torque makes silky acceleration all the way up to 6500 rpm, without transmission kickdowns; or else the kickdowns are so smooth you can’t feel them. The 3.3-liter doesn’t produce neck-snapping acceleration, but stoplight getaway and two-lane passing are excellent.

The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine in the base LX makes 191 horsepower, but they’re hard to find, even for us. Without driving one, we think the Sorento will make owners much happier with the V6. In the LX, it’s $2400 more with front-wheel drive.

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