Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
The 2013 Kia Sorento is a “right-sized” SUV that does almost everything well at a price that won’t break the bank. Available in 5-seat or 7-seat configurations and with a variety of engine choices, it can be everything from fuel miser to laudable tow vehicle. With its good looks, generous warranty and made-in-America credentials, it’s easy to understand the Sorento’s success.
You'll Like The 2013 Kia Sorento If...
If you’re looking for a capable and family-friendly crossover SUV that won’t break the bank yet still has plenty of features, put the Kia Sorento on your shopping list.
You May Not Like The 2013 Kia Sorento If...
If you regularly need to carry seven passengers and still need room for their gear, the Sorento might be too small. In that case, look to a larger 3-row SUV like the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer or Honda Pilot.
For 2013 the Sorento receives a new Kia badge up front, leather seating becomes standard for the mid-tier EX trim, and the 3rd-row seats are now standard on LX V6 models and optional on EX V6 and SX trims.
Peek inside a well-equipped Kia Sorento and you might think you’re looking at a car from a premium brand. Details abound on the dash and door panels, and soft-touch surfaces are easy on the eyes and hands. Numerous cloth patterns and leather combinations help the Sorento to further distance itself from the plebeian models of its past. Legroom is good in the 3-passenger second row, but expectedly tight in the 2-seat third row. That last row is best for children, and folds flat when not in use. With both rows folded, cargo capacity swells to 72.5 cubic feet.
The Sorento has a boxy, angular profile of classic SUVs versus the rotund shape of competitors such as the Nissan Murano. In addition to endowing it with looks that will likely hold up well in the future, they also help make the most of the Sorento’s passenger and cargo space. Up front is the new Kia badging surrounded by a honeycomb grille, which itself sits between menacing headlights. Exterior bits vary by model, with higher trims receiving items like silver roof rails and a rear spoiler. LX models ride on 17-inch wheels, and EX and SX trims ride on 18-inch wheels.
Around town or on the open road, the Sorento is a fine travel mate. The SUV is well-mannered, easy to maneuver, and relatively comfortable. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard, with all-wheel drive (AWD) optional on all trim levels. In a nice surprise, all-wheel-drive versions have a switch that locks the center differential for better traction on slippery surfaces and for when things get rough on occasional off-pavement excursions. With the base engine, acceleration is adequate, but there isn’t much power in reserve for passing. More welcome is the newer direct-injection 4-cylinder engine that is optional in LX models and standard in EX versions. For those wanting the most power and towing capability (up to 3,500 pounds), a V6 is offered across the line. The Sorento’s sole transmission is a smooth, refined 6-speed automatic. Seating position is good and interior controls are a cinch to locate and use.
A base 2013 Kia Sorento has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $24,000, which represents a high-value proposition in this segment. Adding all-wheel drive to any model costs roughly $2,000 extra. EX trim models start under $28,000, and top-line SX models go for $32,500. A decked-out SX with all-wheel drive can reach $38,000. At these prices, the Sorento undercuts slightly larger competitors like the Toyota Highlander, Ford Edge, Nissan Murano, and Honda Pilot, and is on par with the Chevy Equinox. It is more expensive than the Dodge Journey. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what buyers are actually paying for the Sorento. In the long term, the Sorento’s resale value is expected to be strong.
A base 2013 Kia Sorento comes with a 175-horsepower 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic transmission, black wood trim, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and AM/FM/CD/satellite audio system with USB and auxiliary inputs. Higher trim levels bring bigger and more power engine choices and features like leather seating, automatic climate control with rear compartment air conditioning, push-button start/stop, and the voice-activated UVO telematics system. Top-line SX models are stuffed with features like heated front seats, a 10-speaker Infinity premium audio system, and auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
Availability of extras depends on trim levels, but Kia has clustered popular options into packages. The Convenience Package on all-wheel-drive base models, for example, includes roof rails, backup warning system, UVO telematics system, and fog lights. EX and SX models include premium packages that include amenities like a navigation system, panoramic sunroof, air-cooled driver’s seat, illuminated scuff plate, and heated steering wheel. Note that the packages can cost thousands extra, and are your only way of getting particular options such as a built-in nav system.
2.4-LITER DIRECT-INJECTION ENGINEThough it’s the same size as the base 4-cylinder, this engine benefits from direct-injection technology, which makes more efficient use of fuel to boost both fuel economy and power.LOCKABLE CENTER DIFFERENTIALRare on a crossover SUV, this feature on all-wheel-drive Sorentos helps the SUV gain better traction in slippery and off-pavement environments.
Under the Hood
The 2013 Kia Sorento offers a choice of three gasoline engines. Its port-injected 2.4-liter 4-cylinder makes 175 horsepower and 169 lb-ft of torque, while the 3.5-liter V6 turns out a far more energetic 276 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. The GDI (gasoline direct-injection) 2.4-liter 4-cylinder may be the perfect choice, with 191 horsepower and an EPA estimated 30 mpg on the highway. All versions feature a Kia-designed 6-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic manual shift mode. Towing capacity is rated at 1,650 pounds maximum for models with the 4-cylinder engines and 3,500 pounds for those with the V6.2.4-liter inline-4175 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm169 lb-ft of torque @ 3,750 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29 mpg (FWD), 21/27 mpg (AWD)2.4-liter inline-4 (gasoline direct-injection)191 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm181 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30 mpg (FWD), 20/26 mpg (AWD)3.5-liter V6276 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm248 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/26 mpg (FWD), 18/24 mpg (AWD)
The 2013 Kia Sorento is one of the best examples of a “right-sized” SUV – big enough to fit seven passengers in three rows of seats, yet small enough to easily maneuver through traffic and tight spaces. The Sorento’s Goldilocks nature doesn’t end there. This mid-size crossover offers three engine choices, and perhaps most impressive is the one in the middle, a direct-injection 4-cylinder that offers both power and fuel economy. With its good looks, host of amenities and premium options such as ventilated leather seats, the U.S.-built Kia Sorento is a seriously pleasing family vehicle. Throw in Kia’s value pricing and its 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and the Sorento becomes an even more attractive alternative to rivals like the Chevrolet Equinox and Toyota Highlander.