2018 Kia Sorento

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MSRP: $25,900 - 46,300

2018 Kia Sorento Review

Qualities such as top safety scores, a marvelous warranty, and a quiet, comfortable cabin are partly why the 2018 Kia Sorento ranks near the top of its class.

Pros & Cons

 

  • Spacious interior with high-quality materials
  • User-friendly infotainment system and controls
  • Above-average fuel economy from four-cylinder engines
  • Quiet, comfortable ride 

 

 

  • Less cargo space than most

 

Is the Kia Sorento a Good SUV?

The Kia Sorento is one of the best midsize SUVs in our rankings. It has spacious first- and second-row seats, and its ride quality is much like a luxury vehicle. Higher trims come with a user-friendly infotainment system packed with features. Other noteworthy attributes include excellent fuel economy ratings with the base engine, great crash test scores, above-average predicted reliability, and a terrific warranty. With these characteristics of a valuable and trustworthy vehicle, the Sorento is one of our Best Cars for Teens and we named it our Best 3-Row SUV for the Money for its combination of quality and value. Its mild road manners and small cargo hold are two of its few faults.

Should I Buy the Kia Sorento?

Whether you're on the hunt for a value-packed vehicle or a family-friendly midsize SUV, the Kia Sorento is a more-than-suitable choice. There are several configurations to choose from, meaning the Sorento can meet a variety of needs. Budget-savvy shoppers will be happy to know that the base model has a low starting price, a healthy list of features, and great fuel economy with the base engine. Spirited drivers will appreciate the Sorento EX, which touts an energetic turbocharged engine. Additionally, you can add all-wheel drive for extra grip, a V6 engine for additional towing capacity, or third-row seats to haul more people. However, there are other SUVs that can satisfy these needs, like the Toyota Highlander, Ford Edge, and Volkswagen Atlas

Compare the Sorento, Highlander, and Atlas »

Should I Buy a New or Used Kia Sorento?

The Kia Sorento was fully redesigned for 2016, and it saw a few updates for the 2017 model year. Kia made no major changes to the Sorento for 2018. If you're open to driving a used car, you should consider the nearly identical 2017 Sorento to potentially save thousands of dollars. Its improvements over the 2016 model include available Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as adaptive headlights and automatic emergency braking. If these features don't matter too much to you, you may want to go with the 2016 Sorento to save more money.

To research the other used models in this generation, check out our reviews of the 2016 and 2017 Kia Sorento. You can also read our review of the prior-generation 2015 Kia Sorento. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Kia Sorento »

We Did the Research for You: 26 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to make shopping for your next car as easy as possible. You'll find everything you need to know about the Kia Sorento in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data (like fuel economy estimates, horsepower specs, and cargo space dimensions) with 26 professional Kia Sorento reviews. This overview incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2016 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

The U.S. News Best Cars team has been ranking cars since 2007, and our editors, writers, and analysts have more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. We don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and a third party handles all the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Kia Sorento Cost?

With its starting retail price of $25,900, the Kia Sorento is one of the least expensive midsize SUVs in our rankings. It comes in five different trims (L, LX, EX, SX, and SX Limited), with the choice of three different engines and either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Among the editions are the affordable Kia Sorento LX ($27,200), the lively Kia Sorento EX ($33,100), and the posh Kia Sorento SX Limited ($44,500). For great savings at your local Kia dealer, check out our U.S. News Best Price Program. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

Kia Sorento Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Kia Sorento or Toyota Highlander?

Both the Toyota Highlander and the Kia Sorento share many of the same traits, like an available V6 engine, a quality interior, and a comfortable ride. The Toyota has a higher starting price, but it has more standard safety features, including forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control. To get the same amount of safety equipment in the Kia, you'll end up paying more. Additionally, the Highlander offers more cargo space. The Highlander is a better value if you want a lot of safety features, but the Sorento is a better choice if you're looking for a budget-friendly SUV and the safety features aren’t important to you. 

Which Is Better: Kia Sorento or Hyundai Santa Fe?

Both the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Sorento come from Hyundai Motor Group, so they have many traits in common. Both have 2- or 3-row configurations, three engine choices, and a similar standard features list. One major difference is that the Santa Fe's two versions are actually different vehicles. The two-row Santa Fe Sport is smaller and has a different engine lineup than the three-row Santa Fe. With the Sorento, you get a nicer interior and the same vehicle no matter how you configure it. Go for the Sorento if you want something that looks more upscale. Choose the Santa Fe if you're looking for a more affordable alternative. 

Which Is Better: Kia Sorento or Honda Pilot?

For zestier acceleration than the Sorento, look to the Honda Pilot and its standard V6 engine. It can carry up to eight people, which is one more than the Sorento allows. Still, you have to spend an extra $5,000 to get the Honda's extra seating and space. Also, the Pilot has frustrating audio and climate controls. The Sorento is a superior vehicle for most buyers.  

Compare the Sorento, Highlander, and Pilot »

Sorento Interior

How Many People Does the Sorento Seat?

In the base Sorento, which comes standard with cloth upholstery and a split-folding second row, you can seat five people. A third-row seat is available in many trim levels, increasing your seating capacity to seven. The front seats are supportive and spacious, and options like heat, ventilation, and extra power adjustments further bolster their comfort. The second-row seats offer enough room for adults to get cozy, though the cushions are a bit lower than normal. Like most 3-row SUVs, the rearmost seats are cramped. Climbing back to the third row can be tricky, but with a little more legroom here than in rivals like the Toyota Highlander, this area is still useful when you want to carry extra people.

Sorento and Car Seats

The Sorento's second-row outboard seats have full sets of LATCH hardware. The lower anchors are easy to find, and it takes little effort to clip a car seat to them. The upper tethers, however, can be confused with other hardware. The middle seating position has a third tether anchor.

Sorento Interior Quality

Inside, the Sorento feels more upscale than most midsize SUVs at this price point. Premium materials and soft-touch points are plentiful, and the cabin styling is elegant. Step up to higher trim levels and luxury-like accents such as real wood and piano black inlays appear. The available Nappa leather seats – which have a supple, luxurious quality – earn an extra dose of praise from test drivers.

Sorento Cargo Space

There isn't a lot of room for your stuff in the back of a Sorento. Whether you have two rows of seats or three, you'll get more room with competitors like the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. A few thoughtful touches make storage more convenient, though, such as a nice selection of cubbies throughout the cabin, as well as an available smart liftgate, which opens automatically when you stand behind the vehicle with the proximity key.

Sorento Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

It's worth the extra cost to skip the base setup and step up to one of Kia's upgraded infotainment systems, which feature a 7- or 8-inch display with crisp graphics and an easy-to-use interface. You also get enhanced smartphone integration (via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto), which showcase your favorite music, map, and social media apps from your phone on the SUV's display screen. Standard niceties include Bluetooth, a USB port, and an array of user-friendly buttons and knobs.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

Sorento Performance

Sorento Engine: 3 Good Engine Options

The Sorento's three engine options are each appealing in their own way. Select the one that best fits your driving needs, and you should be content with the results. The standard 2.4-liter engine gives you the best bang for your buck as it gets better gas mileage than most midsize SUVs. A Sorento equipped with this engine makes for a respectable daily driver. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder offers a nice blend of brisk acceleration and fuel economy but only comes in the 2-row configuration. You get better towing capacity with the V6 engine, though you sacrifice nimbleness for the extra power. All engines come with a responsive six-speed automatic transmission.

Sorento Gas Mileage: High Rating With 4-Cylinder Engines

When outfitted with either of the four-cylinder engines, the Sorento gets better gas mileage than most vehicles in this class. The base engine's fuel economy rating of 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway is one of the highest in the class. With the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, both city and highway estimates drop by only 1 mpg. The V6 engine's 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway is closer to the class average.

Sorento Ride and Handling: Comfortable, Quiet Ride

The Sorento's ride is smooth and quiet and feels like a luxury SUV on the highway. It comes standard with front-wheel drive, and for $1,800, you can add all-wheel drive to almost every trim level. The Sorento is most athletic when outfitted with the turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which is brisk and responsive. With the V6 under the hood, the Sorento feels heavier and exhibits more body roll when cornering.

Read more about performance »

Sorento Reliability

Is the Kia Sorento Reliable?

The 2018 Sorento has an above-average predicted reliability rating of four out of five from J.D. Power. That's one of the highest scores in the midsize SUV class.

Kia Sorento Warranty

The Sorento comes with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, which is one of the best warranties you’ll find.

Read more about reliability »

Sorento Safety

Sorento Crash Test Results

The 2018 Sorento receives outstanding marks on crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, earning the organization's Top Safety Pick designation. When outfitted with available autonomous emergency braking (included in Kia's optional Technology packages), the IIHS notes that the Sorento offers a Superior level of front crash prevention. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the Sorento an overall score of five out of five stars. The SUV earns top marks in all NHTSA tests except for the rollover simulation, where it gets four stars.

Sorento Safety Features

Every Sorento comes with a rearview camera. Many advanced safety technologies are available, including a surround-view camera, rear parking sensors, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot detection, rain-sensing windshield wipers, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, and Dynamic Bending Light (Kia's name for headlights that adjust to better illuminate corners).

Read more about safety »

Which Kia Sorento Model Is Right for Me?

There is no shortage of choices when it comes to building a new Sorento SUV. Kia offers five different trims (L, LX, EX, SX, and SX Limited), with starting prices ranging from $25,900 to $46,300. Every trim comes standard with front-wheel drive, and you can add all-wheel drive to most for $1,800. In addition to the base four-cylinder engine, a turbocharged four-cylinder is available, as is a V6. All come with a six-speed automatic transmission. Most trim levels have an available third-row seat that expands seating capacity from five to seven, but a couple come only as a five-seat SUV.

If you're shopping for an excellent blend of value and features, we recommend starting with the Sorento LX and adding options through the available packages. The Convenience package ($1,700) comes with upgraded front seats, rear parking sensors, and enhanced smartphone integration. A third-row seat is available for $1,490. Kia also offers a bundle of safety systems – including autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning – through the $1,500 Advanced Technology package (which requires the purchase of the Convenience package and third-row seat as well). With all three packages, your price winds up around $31,900.

Kia Sorento L

Standard features in the base Sorento L ($25,900) include cloth upholstery, folding second-row seats with a 40/20/40 split, six speakers, satellite radio, a USB port, Bluetooth, and a rearview camera. This trim comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. No other powertrains are available.

Kia Sorento LX

The Sorento LX comes with either a four-cylinder engine (starting at $27,200) or a V6 ($29,600). You can upgrade either version to include all-wheel drive for around $2,000. This trim comes with dual rapid-charge USB ports, and V6 models get automatic folding second-row seats and a folding third-row seat with a 50/50 split.

Kia Sorento EX

The cabin starts getting classy with the Sorento EX. This trim features leather seats, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, a proximity key, a hands-free power liftgate, a 7-inch infotainment display, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, rear parking sensors, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot detection, and fog lights. Prices start at $33,100 for front-wheel drive and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Add $1,100 for a V6 engine and $1,800 for all-wheel drive.

Kia Sorento SX

The Sorento SX ($39,200) comes with a V6 engine. Other standard features include an 8-inch infotainment display, a 10-speaker Infinity surround-sound audio system, a panoramic sunroof with power sunshade, a 14-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. All-wheel drive is available for $1,800.

Kia Sorento SX Limited

The range-topping Sorento SX Limited features a V6 engine, Nappa leather seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, a surround-view camera, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, and Dynamic Bending Light (Kia's label for headlights that adjust to better illuminate corners). Prices start at $44,500 with front-wheel drive and $46,300 with all-wheel drive.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

See 2018 Kia Sorento specs and trims »

The Final Call

With a variety of available configurations, the 2018 Kia Sorento can adapt to fit a number of different needs. At its heart, this midsize SUV is a comfortable cruiser with spacious seating for five and outstanding fuel economy. The available third-row seat expands capacity to seven people, adding to the SUV's convenience and versatility. If you want a boost in performance, you can pick from a sporty turbo engine or a beefier V6 that brings a higher tow rating. No matter how you build it, you'll get a first-class interior and a smooth ride. One word of caution: The Sorento has less cargo space than most midsize SUVs.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "Available in five- and seven-passenger configurations, the Sorento offers more space and practicality than its five-seat rivals yet is less expensive and less cumbersome to drive than the big boys. At the same time, it gives up nothing in terms of interior quality and feature content. Indeed, these are reasons why the Sorento is worth a look regardless of which seating configuration you're considering. There's actually even more standard feature content for 2018, and, since it's a Kia, you still get its tremendous five-year limited and 10-year powertrain warranties." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2018 Kia Sorento offers loads of amenities, an upper-crust-appearing interior, sharp looks, and one of the best warranties in the business. Available in 2-row and 3-row configurations, able to seat five and seven passengers respectively, the 2018 Sorento offers different configurations for different needs. Three engines, all-wheel drive, and prices that range from mid-$20,000 to more than $45,000 mean there's a Sorento for just about any need and budget. The 2018 Kia Sorento is smaller than its primary rivals, such as the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Explorer. That means the third row is smaller, and there isn't as much cargo space. On the other hand, it's easier to maneuver and park." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 2017 Kia Sorento is priced like a midlevel compact SUV, but given its long list of available features and room for seven passengers, it might easily be mistaken for a premium luxury vehicle. This family-friendly crossover offers three engine options as well as all-wheel drive and an impressive 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Over last few years, Kia's materials quality has gone from also-ran status to almost class-leading, and the Sorento's slick cabin technology features mark a similar leap forward. The 2017 Sorento is still a good value, but that's not the headline news anymore; what's remarkable about this Kia is that it's now one of the best vehicles in its class." -- Autotrader (2017)
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