Half a decade is all it has taken Kia to transform itself from a bottom-feeder budget brand into a stylish mainstream marque, a metamorphosis driven by design and supported by competent engineering. Kia is a living, breathing automotive industry case study in how to go from zero to hero with a single re-tooling of a vehicle lineup, and the take-away appears to be this: build good-looking cars guaranteed to last for a long time and equipped with a reasonable price tag, and people will buy them.
The latest model in Kia’s string of hits is the revamped 2014 Kia Sorento. Though the previous Sorento was just three model years old, Kia elected to give the crossover suv a substantial update under what is a familiar skin, and the automaker claims that 80% of the 2014 model’s bits and pieces are either redesigned or new.
To see how Kia has transformed the 2014 Sorento, I borrowed the SX AWD model, painted Remington Red. Having now spent a week with it, I can understand why people might buy a Sorento. But I can also understand why they might not.