The satellite radio was tuned to an oldies channel when Roy Orbison’s dulcet tones suddenly coalesced in succinct fashion everything I was thinking about the all-new Kia Sorento.
Warbled Roy: “...It won’t be long, just-a wait and see, I’ll have a big car, fine clothes and then I’ll be... Uptown!”
Roy, my man, you nailed it.
Sorento has gone uptown.
Since its arrival stateside back in the last century, the Kia brand has unabashedly harbored aspirations of abandoning its econo-car origins and going highbrow. The brand’s most recent arrivals – the Stinger sport sedan, the big Telluride crossover SUV, the just-arrived K5 midsize family four-door – provide evidence that those aspirations are being realized.
This fourth-generation Sorento corroborates that testimony.
All-new for 2021, the three-row Sorento crossover is offered in six trims. At the bottom of the pecking order, LX and S get a 2.5-liter, 191-hp I-4 mated to an eight-speed automatic. Everything else – EX, SX, SX Prestige and SX Prestige X-Line – is motivated by a 2.5-liter turbo four whose 281 hp is sent to the tarmac via a dual-clutch eight-speed automatic. Prestige is strictly a front-driver while Prestige X-Line comes only with all-wheel drive. All other Sorentos can be had either way.
We drove the range-topping SX Prestige X-Line, and it was a revelation. Among its perks: leather, navigation, a 12.3-inch reconfigurable gauge display, a 10.25-inch centerstack screen, a panoramic sun roof (with power shade), power liftgate, Smart Cruise Control, surround-view monitor, dual-zone auto climate control, heated and vented front seats, heated steering wheel, and on and on. And on Prestige X-Line, it’s all standard.
Among the mere $525 in options bestowed on our tester was the $200 X-Line Rust Interior Pkg. It includes no rust, but does boast tan seats and door-trim inserts. Add our car’s faux wood – a genuinely impressive forgery – satin-metal accents and door and dash piano-black appliques and we had a genuinely classy ambience.
X-Line boasts twin captain’s chairs in the middle row, along with a two-passenger 50/50-split third row. The middle row seats, which are fore/aft and rake adjustable, are fine both in comfort and room, but the third row – awkward to access and tighter than wet denim – is pretty useless for human habitation. We just folded it and got more cargo space.The all-important infotainment interface is attractive and easy to navigate, thanks to the centerstack touch screen, old-school radio knobs, and copious hard buttons. In a cool feature, favorite navigation destinations can be saved like radio pre-sets, and radio-station frequencies are displayed on what appears to be old radio tubes!
For those who want neither music nor silence, our X-Line boasted a sound-effects menu, including “Lively Forest,” “Calm Sea Waves,” “Rainy Day,” “Open Air Cafe,” “Warm Fireplace” and “Snowy Village,” that last one offering the sound of walking feet crunching snow. Can’t live without it!
On the road, our AWD Sorento, with drive modes of Eco, Snow, Comfort, Sport and Smart, proved willing – once the turbo took a beat to spool up. It then launched us to 60 mph in a satisfying scoot in the upper-6’s. We did note a bit of wind noise at the passenger-side A pillar, but otherwise the cabin was quiet, the ride civil. In 140 miles mixed city/hwy motoring, we got 21 mpg.
Styling is great: cubist headlights, bold grille, smoked 20-inch wheels on X-Line, and taillights that reminded of us Mustang’s, only with two sections instead of three.
Finally, the 2021 Sorento, at a base price of $30,565, rings the registered in its most affordable guise at nearly $2,500 more than it did in 2020. Our Prestige X-Line had a bottom line of $44,290. Definitely going uptown! But, if you can make friends with the sticker, Sorento is awfully easy to like.