2018 Kia Sorento Rating Breakdown
2018 kia sorento
EPA est City/Hwy
Starting at
2.0L Turbo
240 hp

Starting at



2.0L Turbo


240 hp





The Car Connection Expert Review
Marty Padgett

Marty Padgett

Editorial Director

  • Second-row seats need more support
  • Turbo-4? No third row
  • Third-row seat has slim space
kia sorento 2018

The latest Kia Sorento strikes its best visual balance yet.

With the Sorento, Kia cues up all the correct crossover-SUV lines and surfaces, without going rogue in any direction.

It’s attractive enough to earn a 7 out of 10 for styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The elegant, neat look of the latest Sorento made its debut with the 2016 model year.

It melts right into the crossover-SUV mainstream, with its semi-prominent grille, its upscale and mature levels of chrome detailing, and its softer sculpting. LED lighting accents the corners, and though the front end looks a bit bluff, it’s nowhere near as overstated as the grilles on some of the more adventurous Asian and American utility vehicles.

The Sorento’s cockpit has the polish and organization it lacked in prior generations. The cabin’s awash in soft-touch trim, and on top models, lovely leather. Controls are grouped and cordoned off into logical zones, and the dash wraps around it all in a cohesive way. It’s attractive and functional, altogether, and it feels that the dash itself is a bit lower than before while critical controls are actually placed higher.

The latest Kia Sorento strikes its best visual balance yet.

The Kia Sorento has composed handling and perky acceleration; we like the turbo-4 best.

The Kia Sorento could be accused of being all over the map, but we like the half-full-glass view. All its models have a well-controlled ride, and well-behaved powertrains, and that merits a 7 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The base 2.4-liter inline-4 will be tough to find on lots. With 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque, it’s only offered in L trim, only with front-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic.

We’d steer you to the recently introduced turbo-4, in any case. It’s rated at 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, and has a perky driving feel that overcomes slight initial turbo lag. It’s forgivable, since it makes peak torque at 1,450 rpm and works well with the standard 6-speed automatic without too much 4-cylinder groan.

The V-6 has more power on paper, at 290 hp and 252 lb-ft, but its peak torque arrives later. It feels best off the line, then accelerates undramatically. We’ve observed some 6-speed shift shock with this engine, a sensation we didn’t have in the 4-cylinder models, but with all engines the automatic tends to shift smoothly.

Kia fits a drive-mode selector with Eco, Comfort, and Sport tuning for the powertrain, but don’t get your hopes up. Shift points and steering get tweaked but throttle doesn’t. It doesn’t need to; it’s a little too sensitive as it is.

Traction and handling

The Sorento is no hardcore off-roader, but all-wheel drive is an option. It has a differential lock that fixes its power split at 50/50, and with 7.3 inches of ground clearance, the Sorento does about as well as most medium-grade crossovers, like the Explorer. The Sorento’s all-weather system works with an electronic torque-vectoring function that applies brakes to help the Sorento steer more accurately.

An independent suspension and well-tuned electric steering with great tracking and easily modulated brakes give the Sorento a fluid driving feel. The ride is well-damped, and it goes down the road with more confidence, surefootedness, and control than before.

The Sorento can tow, too. It’s rated at up to 5,000 pounds with all-wheel drive, or 3,500 pounds with front-wheel drive and the turbo-4.

The Kia Sorento has composed handling and perky acceleration; we like the turbo-4 best.

It’s not the largest three-row SUV, but the Kia Sorento seems like the right size for most drivers.

If you haven’t driven the latest Kia Sorento, you might not recognize its solid feel and its reasonably sized third-row seat. In 2016 Kia redesigned the crossover SUV and moved it smartly up the sophisticated scale.

We give it an 8 out of 10 for comfort and utility. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The changes are remarkable in the front seats. Kia’s leapfrogged most rivals with seats sculpted like those in Volvos. The seats have wonderfully supportive cushions, extending thigh supports, and on upper models, a power tilt/height-adjustable passenger seat.

The second row doesn’t fare as well. The three-across seat sits close to the floor and sits low. The bottom cushions don’t have enough contouring for adults, either. Try a Nissan Murano on for size and you’ll see what we mean. Head room is tight on Sorentos with the widely available panoramic roof. The seatbacks fold down for better access to the cargo hold or the third-row seat, which is better than it might have been. It’s not too difficult to climb into the third row, though leg room isn’t as good as vehicles like the Dodge Durango or Ford Explorer. Third-row seats can’t be ordered with the turbo-4 engine, either.

Expensive versions get a power-fold third-row seat and a power tailgate with a proximity sensor that opens it when the fob is near, no foot-swipe needed. Cargo space isn’t narrow or shallow with the third-row seat in use, but it’s still rather small. A couple of roll-aboard bags will fit.

Maybe the most impressive aspect of the latest Sorento is the sense of solidity. Kia uses more high-strength steel and acoustic glass, and it reveals itself in quiet poise on the highway. Interior materials are well-coordinated and fitted, especially at the $40,000 end of the Sorento lineup.

It’s not the largest three-row SUV, but the Kia Sorento seems like the right size for most drivers.

The Kia Sorento’s robust safety scores and gear make it a great choice for families.

Safety features and crash scores put the Kia Sorento among the best crossover SUVs.

We give it an 8 out of 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

This year, the IIHS called it a Top Safety Pick with all "Good" scores in crash tests, and "Acceptable" headlight performance in top trims. Lower trims only manage a "Poor" score in the headlight test, so getting that TSP designation requires an SX or SXL model with a V-6.

The NHTSA gave the Sorento five stars overall this year, with only a four-star rollover rating keeping it from a perfect score.

All Sorentos have a rearview camera and Bluetooth, and a host of advanced safety technology—adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitors—are available on almost every trim for a reasonable price.

Blind-spot monitors are standard on some models, in fact, but surround-view cameras only can be fitted to the Sorento SXL.

The Kia Sorento’s robust safety scores and gear make it a great choice for families.

NHTSA 5-Star Safety Rating

2018 Kia Sorento Models

Overall Rating


Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating: (5/5)
Overall Side Crash Rating: (5/5)
Overall Side Barrier Rating: Not Rated
NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating: (4/5)

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Ratings

2018 Kia Sorento Models

Side Impact Test Good
Roof Strength Test Good
Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint Good
IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results Good
IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results Good

Lots of features and a great warranty put the Kia Sorento on the crossover leader board.

From the Sorento L, to Sorento SXL trims, Kia outfits its biggest SUV with ample standard features and plenty of options, even on the base version you’ll rarely see on dealer lots.

We give it a 9 out of 10 for its solid set of features, its simple infotainment, and its strong warranty coverage. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Sorento L crossovers come with the base 4-cylinder and front-wheel drive. LX versions offer a naturally aspirated 4-cylinder or V-6; EX editions swap the base 4-cylinder for a turbo-4. SX Sorentos have a V-6, while SXL models get the turbo-4 or V-6. All but the L can be configured with all-wheel drive. The third-row seat is available on many models, but not on those with the turbo-4.

On the Sorento L, Kia offers power features, AM/FM/XM/CD audio, Bluetooth with audio streaming, and a rearview camera.

The LX adds USB ports, an acoustic-glass windshield, automatic headlights, and a roof rack. Options include a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system and forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors (which, oddly, are standard on some mid-grade trims, optional on others).

The Sorento EX gains 18-inch wheels, leather seats with a power driver seat, and dual-zone automatic climate control. An option package bundles a power moonroof and a power tailgate.

Sporty SX Sorentos get a 14-way power driver seat, 19-inch wheels, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation. At the SXL level, the Sorento piles on better leather, chrome wheels, surround-view cameras, and a woodgrain-trimmed steering wheel.

All Sorentos have an extensive 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, and a 5-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty.

Lots of features and a great warranty put the Kia Sorento on the crossover leader board.

The Kia Sorento fares reasonably well in EPA testing.

The Kia Sorento doesn’t offer fancy stop/start systems or hybrid editions, but its fuel economy ratings are fine for its kind, thanks to efficient 4- and 6-cylinder engines.

We give it a 6 out of 10 for gas mileage. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

At the entry level, the 4-cylinder front-wheel-drive Sorento earns an EPA rating of 21 mpg city, 28 highway, 24 combined.

The turbo-4 versions can get 20/27/23 mpg with front-wheel drive, but adding all-wheel drive generally drops the ratings by 1 mpg.

With the V-6, the all-wheel-drive Sorento is rated at 17/23/19 mpg.

The Kia Sorento fares reasonably well in EPA testing.

Fuel Economy Information

Ratings Based on 4 cyl, 2.0 L, 6-Speed Shiftable Automatic



4.5 gals/100 miles





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