2017 Kia Sorento SX Limited V6 Review

A little bit of attention goes a very long way, indeed.

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Positives: Excellent interior layout and functionality, handles well for a large and heavy vehicle, feels premium, well-priced, the best Sorento yet.
Negatives: Limited third-row entry choice, steering feedback leaves something to be desired, thick rear pillars obscure sightlines.
Bottom Line: This refresh is a big one and brings the Sorento SXL into premium territory for a good price. It's refined, powerful and very attractive thanks to attention to detail. It's a worthy pick for any family who wants a well-rounded and very comfortable three-row SUV.
 View Our 2017 Kia Sorento Overview
If you thought the 2015 Kia Sorento was plenty good, you're not alone. If you couldn't tell the difference between the reworked 2016 model and the 2015, you're also not the only one. But the differences, at least to those who are willing to take a closer look, are significant and bring the Sorento to a new level in terms of attractiveness, comfort and refinement.

The new Sorento is available in two distinct configurations: a two-row, 5-passenger form or the more versatile three-row,7-passenger version. If you want the one with bigger capacity, you'll need to upgrade to the V6 engine in order to do that, but it just might be worth it for the extra grunt and the truly usable third row. The Sorento has truly evolved over the years since it first showed up on our shores way back in 2002. It can now be considered luxurious and solid, especially when in top level SXL trim as our was. We drove it for a week and discovered that it delivers more than we expected.

Driving Experience



Coming off the heels of the Hyundai Santa Fe 7-passenger SUV, we were excited to see the differences between it and the new Sorento. We were pretty happy with that vehicle but found the Sorento to be a step up. One of the more noticeable areas was the driving experience. It's no Mazda CX-9 (then again, what is?), but the rack-mounted steering provided some feedback and the chassis, and suspension and torque vectoring system managed the weight very well in turns. The power of the V6 brings a smile to your face, as well. It's no slouch in the acceleration department.

Ride Quality: Luxurious but also with a modicum of sportiness. The Sorento rides incredibly well without making you feel like you're driving a two-ton pillow on wheels.

Acceleration: It's shocking how fast the Sorento V6 feels. The engine is strong and throaty, and the throttle response is very good.

Braking: The Sorento has good brakes that are strong with a progressive pedal feel. That being said, you do feel the weight of the thing when it comes to a stop.

Steering: The SXL's rack mounted steering is decent and provides some feedback, but overall the steering is a bit lacking in terms of precision and feel. It is, however, better than the Hyundai Santa Fe's.

Handling: Handling is better than we thought, and it's thanks largely to the chassis and the torque vectoring. The Sorento feels good in turns and provides some confidence. At no time did it feel floaty and top-heavy.




The Sorento boasts a solid level of technology, especially in fully-outfitted SXL trim. The top level Sorento gets upped by $4,000 from the last model, but it also provides the formerly $2,500 Tech package standard on the SXL. There's very little to complain about since the UI works incredibly well, everything is easy to read and understand, and the controls are beautifully laid out. The UVO system offers up numerous useful services, and the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capabilities are very welcomed.

Infotainment System: Our model's 8-inch capacitive touchscreen is easy to read and very clear. We love Kia's font and icons, which are very easy to work with.

Controls: Kia does some of the most intuitive controls in the business. We love the way the buttons are laid out with the natural line of sight, and you don't need to hunt to find controls while you're driving.

Bluetooth Pairing: Kia has some of the best pairing in the business. It's quick, intuitive and very simple. Re-pairing upon entering the Sorento is a piece of cake. Not every carmaker is this easy.

Voice Call Quality: Excellent voice call quality on numerous calls without issue.




Though most folks would have a tough time distinguishing between this model and the last Sorento, you can see that the current one is far more refined when you put the two side-by-side. Additional but tasteful use of chrome ups the aesthetic, as does the more prominent fascia. The biggest differences, however, occur inside the Sorento, where the level of style and sophistication has risen a couple of levels. And the last Sorento had a pretty nice cabin to begin with.

Front: The updated fascia gets small changes that make a big difference. The bigger "tiger nose" grille is almost Bentley-like in its appearance, more curved where it meets the hoodline and with rounded edges. The foglights in top level trim are quad-beam in larger housings, and bigger headlights also add a dose of bold style.

Rear: The last Sorento's rear looked incomplete but not unattractive. Now the tail section looks very much like a VW Touareg, and that's a good thing. The brake lights now sit on top of the backup lights and turn signals, and the reflectors are now horizontal instead of the bulging vertical versions on the last Sorento. Again, small changes make a big difference here.

Profile: The SXL gains refinement with added chrome and larger 19" wheels that give the Sorento a sophisticated silhouette.

Cabin: It's easily the best thing about the new Sorento, especially in top trim. The leather and materials are top notch, and the overall look is far better than the last vehicle, including a cleaner steering wheel, crisper center stack, and a dash that no longer looks generic.




Next to the Lexus RX 450h and the Mazda CX-9, it'd be hard to find a more comfortable cabin in a midsize SUV/CUV. The Sorento does a masterful job at creating creature comforts for all its occupants, and does it rather handsomely, as well. It's not only good to look at, it's also very easy to use, shockingly quiet and upscale in materials quality. There's pretty much nothing we didn't like about the new Sorento's digs, and we tend to be pretty picky. The third row is generous compared to its competitors and especially puts it's fellow Korean brother, the Santa Fe, to shame in this department.

Front Seats: A great balance of sport and comfort. The cooling and heat both worked very well, and the contrast-stitched leather seats had some of the best bolstering we've seen in a seven-passenger SUV.

Rear Seats: Second row seats offer plenty of headroom and legroom. The Sorento’s third row seats offer more headroom and legroom than the Santa Fe’s but gives up cargo space behind the third row as a sacrifice.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The Sorento is very well built. At no point did we experience harshness or vibration, and it's one of the quietest cars we've driven this year.

Visibility: Great visibility out front thanks to a good seating position and a good windshield angle. Rear sightlines are compromised due to the fat D-pillar.

Climate: We love ourselves the climate controls in the Sorento, and it cools like a charm in the hot Chicago summer.




The 2017 Kia Sorento isn't just a hauler with premium aspirations, it also has the safety chops to back it up. in all trims, the Sorento rates very high in terms of crash worthiness, and your family should have peace of mind when riding inside. The SXL now has a standard automatic emergency braking system, too.

IIHS Rating: The Sorento gets the highest rating from the IIHS thanks to excellent crash test results and attains the Top Safety Pick+ due to the new automatic emergency braking system that earns a superior rating. The old system was merely a warning system, so this is a big improvement.

Standard Tech: The Sorento's safety features include airbags all around and both traction and stability-control systems. blind-spot monitoring, driving aids like lane-keep assist, smart cruise control and the new auto-braking feature.

Optional Tech: None available for this top trim Sorento.




Because of the spacious third row in the SXL, the cargo space behind those seats gets compromised, but that's not a bad thing since the SXL still has plenty of overall cargo room when the second and third row seats are folded flat. Storage space is plentifiul and well-placed, giving the Sorento the right setup for the entire family when it comes to the stowage of small gear items that the can't live without.

Storage Space: The Sorento has great storage options that include cupholders lined up next to the shifter, deep door pockets, a big armrest compartment, deep center compartment under the center stack controls, and a nice coin tray right in front of the armrest.

Cargo Room: The SXL has a dinky 11.3 cu. ft. behind the third row, compared to the 5-passenger version's 38.8 cu. ft., but the third row is actually usable by normal sized adults.

Fuel Economy



Though there are no negative surprises for fuel economy since the SXL is a big car, we can't help but wonder why Kia and Hyundai seem to suffer when it comes to mileage. The Mazda CX-9 manages 22/29, while the Sorento does 17/23. Of course, the Kia V6 has two more cylinders than the turbocharged four-banger in the Mazda (and the Kia weighs more), but the overall consumption gets real-world disappointing if you want to drive it at something resembling more than a crawl.

Observed: 18.9 mpg combined.

Driving Factors: Granted, we drove it in Sport mode 95% of the time, but we also drove it with no passengers most of the time.




More and more cars should be outfitted this way, with premium sound as standard instead of a pricey option. The Infinity system in the Sorento SXL is an excellent one with clear and crisp sound and ample volume. It could've used a little more bass, but we did enjoy listening to the system on all of our drives.

Final Thoughts

The Sorento SXL is truly premium in our book, and it has both the looks and the feel of a vehicle that's much more expensive. Though no one will cross-shop between a Mercedes GLS Class and a Sorento, we sense the Koreans creeping up on the Germans in terms of build quality, refinement and design. The new Sorento is evidence that Kia cares about how its perceived and about how it drives. For just shy of $47K, you get pretty much everything you want in a larger SUV with the technology (and now the safety) you expect.
Shopping for a used
Kia Sorento?