The mid-size crossover and SUV segment is swollen with entries, but the three-row 2023 Kia Sorento is one worth considering. With seating for up to seven passengers, the Sorento offers the utility of the larger V-6-powered Telluride, with better fuel economy and multiple powertrain configurations. The front-drive SUV comes standard with a 191-hp inline-four with an eight-speed automatic transmission; however, we think buyers ought to consider adding all-wheel drive and upgrading to the Sorento’s 281-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Kia also offers the Sorento with a 227-hp hybrid powertrain that returns an EPA-estimated 37 mpg combined and a 261-hp plug-in hybrid (PHEV) setup with an estimated 32 miles of battery-electric driving range. The Sorento offers plentiful passenger space for its size, and even includes available niceties such as heated and cooled front and second-row seating.
Also read : 2022 Kia Optima, Hybrid Full Review
What’s New for 2023?
The Sorento pulls into 2023 without any major changes to its massive lineup. All models now come standard with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert while the S trim now comes with a wireless smartphone charging pad. The mid-range EX trim gets an eight-way power-adjustable passenger’s seat and a frameless rearview mirror; the upscale SX now comes with a 12.3-inch digital gauge display, power-folding exterior mirrors, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Kia has discontinued the Sorento Hybrid S base model and added a fully loaded Hybrid SX-P trim with standard all-wheel drive, 17-inch wheels, leather seating, and captain’s chairs for the second row. The Hybrid EX gets a little love too, with an eight-way power front-passenger seat and a frameless rearview mirror. For 2023 Kia Sorento PHEV comes strictly in SX-Prestige trim. The PHEV SX-Prestige has all the fixings, including retractable rear-door sunshades, a 115-volt inverter, and an estimated 32 miles of electric driving range.
We like the EX hybrid. It’s pricier than the base Sorento, but it comes standard with the turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain that’s more powerful than the base nonhybrid offering. It also has nicer amenities than the trims below it, including leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, remote start, and snazzier styling such as 17-inch wheels and black exterior accents.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The 2023 Kia Sorento has a wide selection of engine options and is available with front- or all-wheel drive. A 191-hp 2.5-liter inline-four-cylinder engine is standard and a 281-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder is available too. Both pair with an eight-speed automatic transmission and the hybrid model uses a six-speed automatic. We drove a top-of-the-line SX trim with the turbo four and appreciated its noticeable thrust, but we wish the powertrain felt more responsive off the line. The same model delivered poised handling, a nicely isolated ride, and firm brake-pedal feedback. The eco-friendly Sorento hybrid features a turbo 1.6-liter four-cylinder gas engine and an electric motor that work together to generate 227 horsepower. The all-wheel-drive Sorento plug-in hybrid features the same engine and transmission as the lesser hybrid, but in this application, the powertrain makes a combined 261 horsepower courtesy of a more powerful electric motor.
Towing and Payload Capacity
Although the Kia Sorento won’t move mountains, its marginal towing capacity could prove helpful in some situations. The maximum towing capacity for the Sorento is 3500 pounds when equipped with the turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and the optional towing package. Avoid the towing package or opt for the base naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine and that figure falls to 2000 pounds. Though the Sorento can’t match the V-6-powered Kia Telluride’s 5000-pound tow rating, it still can haul a couple of jet skis or small farm animals—depending on your lifestyle.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA estimates the Sorento returns up to 24 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway when equipped with the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The more powerful turbocharged 2.5-liter four nets EPA ratings of 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. The hybrid Sorento HEV is the most fuel-efficient with estimates of 39 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. The plug-in hybrid has a combined rating of 79 MPGe. Drive the Sorento PHEV in its Hybrid mode and the plug-in model earns EPA-estimated fuel economy figures of 35 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. That said, the PHEV can travel up to a manufacturer-estimated 32 miles on electricity alone with a full charge of its battery. On our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, a Sorento EX Hybrid achieved 31 mpg—4 mpg short of its EPA estimate. The Sorento PHEV returned 25 mpg while in Hybrid mode, 8 mpg off its EPA estimate. For more information about the Sorento’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside, the Sorento has an attractive layout, nice materials, and solid build quality. The dashboard can be outfitted with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The rest of the design blends rhombus-shaped air vents integrated ambient lighting and intricately stitched surfaces on the door panels and seat inserts. A variety of cubby storage spots and cupholders also fill out the console. Along with a standard third row, its second-row bench can be swapped for a pair of captain’s chairs. Compared with the larger Telluride, the Sorento’s far-back seats aren’t comfortable for adults, and we only managed to fit two carry-on suitcases in the cargo area—two fewer than the Telluride.
Also read : 2022 Kia Sportage Review, Design, Engine, Price
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Sorento comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen or an optional 10.3-inch touchscreen. A wireless charging pad is optional, as is a 12-speaker Bose sound system. A rear-seat entertainment system with a touchscreen mounted on the back of each front seat is also optional.
Every 2023 Sorento is equipped with automatic LED headlights, keyless entry, second-row climate control vents, six speakers, an 8.0-inch central touchscreen, and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Features like power-folding side mirrors, a powered liftgate, heated and powered front seats, and pushbutton start are offered on higher trims, with conveniences like ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel coming on the SX Prestige top model. The Sorento’s infotainment system can be upgraded with a 10.3-inch touchscreen and wireless phone charger.