Kia is pushing for change in the 2014 model year. There is a slew of redesigned or all-new product coming down the production pipeline. One of the models ready for a refresh is the Kia Sorento, and the 2014 Sorento pushes the idea of a refresh to its limit.
It’s easy enough to take an existing model, update some exterior features, maybe add a new nav screen inside, raise the price and call it a successful refresh. This is not what Kia has in store for the 2014 Sorento. In fact, the automaker may be calling this a refresh but the crossover sport utility vehicle receives a brand-new platform to underpin its stylishly fresh new skin.
Speaking of this new skin, Kia is going to great lengths to push design as a selling point because the automaker realizes that the current generation of buyers are significantly motivated by what their car looks like. It should come as no surprise then that the man in charge of the North American arm is superstar designer Peter Schreyer. Additionally, it shouldn’t be so surprising that the 2014 Sorento is pretty darn stylish.
To achieve the new, nip-tucked look, Kia designers set about reducing the blockiness found in the overall shape of Sorentos past. There is no Borrego-ness going on, just an attention to sleek lines and sharp features. Up front, the signature Kia grille has been thinned out and extends into the winged headlamps to help give the eyes a feeling of width. Out back, the taillamps receive a similar treatment and it serves to further cut down on any perceived square-ness. Everything on the outside of the Sorento has been cleaned up, and the result is a vehicle that looks like it could play in a class above where it currently does battle.
Attention was also paid to sprucing up the interior. In fact, Kia engineers and designers did a wonderful job of upgrading certain features to attain a much more premium feel. Most notably this occurs in two spots; the eight-inch touch screen display sitting atop the center stack, and via the new TFT cluster mounted in the center of the gauges. The gauges themselves have been upgraded and now take on the appearance of watch faces that might be found on high-end chronographs. When viewed next to the bright and crisp TFT readout, the result is something that will draw your eyes in – just make sure you only glance down when necessary or when stopped at a red light.
Not as nice, however, is the feeling provided by the seats. The back portion is fine, but the cushion for the legs is a bit bland, and the result is a bit of uncomfortable numbness after a bit of time behind the wheels. Still, legroom and headroom are great. In fact, second row passengers now get an additional 30 millimeters of space and the third row gets an additional nine millimeters. Ingress and egress are made easier as well because the 2014 Sorento sits 10 millimeters lower than the outgoing model.
The big news inside, however, is the initial roll out of the new UVO eServices system. Move over OnStar, there’s a new player in the telematics world, and it’s coming to market with a long list of features. By connecting through your phone, and also accessible through your computer, you become closer with your Sorento. Check engine light come on? Find out exactly why through UVO eServices. At home planning a trip via Google Maps? Send the directions to your Sorento so they’re waiting for you when you start it up. Did you get in an accident? 911 has been notified, and help is on the way. Maybe you just want to connect to your Pandora account? Well, it can do that too… and it responds to voice commands. Not only that, but the system is free for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Kia is still figuring out what they’ll do when that period is up, but the automaker has a little bit of time because the 2014 Sorento is its first vehicle equipped with the all-new UVO eServices.2014 Kia Sorento: Dialing in a driving experience
As dynamic as the new features are, there is a whole lot more going on underneath the skin. As we mentioned earlier, the Sorento now rides on a new platform. This means that engineers were able to go in and change some mechanical features, which is all an engineer really needs to remain happy at work. The body mounts have been revised, as have the suspension bushings, and the suspension geometry has been reworked. This means that the 2014 Sorento delivers a better overall ride quality without sacrificing comfort (well, the comfort that’s not lost with that front seat bottom).
Further aiding in the enhanced ride quality is the new motor drive power steering system, or MDPS. This is an electric-based unit, which replaces the hydraulic systems, and is found in more vehicles across the industry. Why? It reduces the parasitic drag created by the hydraulic systems and creates an area where engineers can earn back a few miles per gallon. Typically, however, it also results in a vehicle that offers up the steering feel of your average shopping cart. Kia has a way to curb that and it happens with a push of a steering-wheel-mounted button. Hit it and you can choose between Normal, Comfort, or Sport modes. Comfort will ease back on the steering heft while Sport will up the weight felt when turning the wheel. We find Comfort to be far too light, and leaving the system in Sport keeps us the most happy. It’s not perfect and still feels a bit artificial, but it’s certainly more engaging than the last Sorento we drove.2014 Kia Sorento: Choices under the hood
Under the hood, you have a choice between two engines. The base Sorento LX is available with a 2.4-liter Theta II four-cylinder engine that produces 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. Step up the trim ladder to the EX or SX and you’re greeted with the 3.3-liter Lambda V6 engine, which is good for 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. All trims are available with front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. Additionally, higher trims can add in the optional torque vectoring control system that aids in cornering by reducing excessive understeer.
While the base four-cylinder engine has plenty of power sitting near the 200 mark, we prefer the version that’s closer to 300. The V6-equipped Sorento has more than enough juice to get the job done, be it hauling people or groceries. Those groceries will be easy to get out of the back too, thanks to the optional programmable power liftgate. All of the dynamic changes made to the undercarriage of the Sorento show up once its underway. The ride is firm yet comfortable, and the chassis feels nice and solid. Steering, when in Sport mode, is more properly weighted, and the transmission is as responsive as you could ask for in your everyday crossover. On top of that, the brakes have gone upsize in the front, so swept area and stopping power have increased. Overall, the 2014 Kia Sorento appears to have gone to finishing school, and the result is a graduating grade of A-.
What would get rid of the minus from that grade? Better seats, which are important because that’s where you spend the most of your time inside any vehicle.2014 Kia Sorento: A lot of car for a great price
Kia is clearly doing things very right, and the 2014 model year is proof positive of that. The new Sorento is a perfect example of the direction that the company is charging towards. Style comes together with substance in a package that’s affordable and filled with top-notch amenities and features. For example, the Kia Sorento starts out at $24,100 and can rise all the way to the mid-to-high $30,000 range for the top-spec SX-L trim. Along that trim exploration, you’ll find an easy to read navigation system, the UVO eServices, a radar-based blind-spot detection system, an 12-speaker Infinity sound system, a panoramic sunroof, and a whole host of other items that will make you feel like you paid far more for your Sorento than you actually did.
You’ll smile when you get out of it, and see how good it looks sitting in your driveway.