Now in its third model year with the current styling, the 2013 Kia Sorento represents a mild update to the popular crossover formula that has garnered plenty of attention for the Korean automaker. With a sharp design and many tech features available at value pricing, the Sorento continues its more-for-less philosophy, offering class-leading fuel economy with its advanced direct-injected 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, offered optionally on base-level LX models or standard on mid-level EX models. Or if its 191 horsepower simply isn't enough, Kia thoughtfully satiates the need for speed with an available 276-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6.
New for 2013
Most of the 2013 Kia Sorento's updates come by way of packaging changes, including:
• Standard leather seating for Sorento EX models.
• A standard third-row bench for V-6 powered LX models, available on V-6-powered EX and SX models.
• Kia's UVO voice-controlled infotainment system available in LX models.
• Repackaging of features for the top-level SX model to bring down the base price.
Despite its car-based roots, the 2013 Kia Sorento has a chunky look reminiscent of a truck. Yet with scalloped sides, raked headlights, and a wide air dam in its front bumper, the Sorento looks remarkably sporty. Like other Kia models, the Sorento shares Kia's signature "tiger nose" tabbed grille. And like other Kia models, you have to splurge for the higher-trim SX model to get LED tail lights and front accents. Fortunately, they accent what's already a pretty good-looking crossover.
Interior & Cargo
Kia's UVO infotainment system has now trickled throughout the entire Kia Sorento lineup, integrating hands-free Bluetooth calling, audio controls, wireless music streaming, and MP3 player connectivity all into its touchscreen system. Additionally, the Sorento comes with standard Sirius satellite radio if you get tired of listening to your own tunes. All of the functions can be controlled through voice commands.
But if you're one of the other passengers in the crossover, it's nice to know Kia hasn't forgotten about you. In most models, the Sorento comes with standard seating for five. But a third-row bench can be ordered, allowing room for smaller children, or family members you're not too fond of, stretching seating to seven.
Most Sorentos will have a voluminous 37 cubic feet of cargo space with just the second row up—more than twice the size of an average midsize sedan's trunk. With the third row up, that drops to a paltry 9.1 cubic feet. But with the two rear rows folded flat, cargo space spreads out to a massive 72.5 cubic feet, enough to fit a set of skis in back without much effort. Of course, with 60-40 split-folding benches in each row, you'll rarely have to choose between carrying people or cargo.
With front driver and passenger airbags and side airbags for the front and second row, the Sorento has padding pretty well covered. It also has LATCH anchors for child seats, stability control, and tire pressure monitoring. All of it adds up to a four-star government safety rating and an Insurance Institute of Highway Safety Top Safety Pick.
The Kia Sorento comes with three available engines, all coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission: two 2.4-liter four-cylinders and a strong 3.5-liter V-6. Standard only in base-level models, the entry-level 2.4-liter engine boasts 175 horsepower and yields a fuel economy rating of 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway with front-wheel drive. Adding all-wheel drive drops highway fuel economy by 1 mpg.
Adding direct fuel-injection to the engine in midlevel EX models helps it produce 191 horsepower and bumps fuel economy to 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway, making the front-wheel drive Kia Sorento a leader among midsize crossovers; that economy drops to 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway with all-wheel drive. Those who need to tow should opt for the top-range V-6 engine, however, as it can haul a trailer as heavy as 3,500 pounds. Its fuel economy drops to 20 mpg city/26 mpg highway with front-wheel drive or 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway with all four wheels moving it.
None of the three engines are particularly Earth-shattering, but the upgraded four-cylinder and V-6 provide plenty of power for most, with the V-6 able to get to 60 mph in a respectable 7.6 seconds. But if you're looking at a vehicle in this segment, you're probably more interested in reliability. With a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty, you shouldn't have much to worry about.
Key Competitors of the 2013 Kia Sorento
• Toyota RAV4
• Chevrolet Equinox
• Ford Edge