2022 Kia Sorento SX-Prestige Review: Fun, Functional and Handsome

2022 Kia Sorento
The 2022 Kia Sorento starts at $30,665 including destination. Kia

The Kia brand went from an economical also-ran to offering some of the best deals in the industry. And in the last decade or so the brand has been on a roll in design, performance and utility. The three-row, 2022 Kia Sorento exemplifies the trend, though this top trim family hauler is now far from inexpensive.

Kia Sorento debuted a redesigned, fourth-generation Sorento in 2021 in the U.S., along with new looks and powertrain options, the company also added the off-road-centric X-Line package which is available on all trims except for the least expensive LX model. That package has an extra inch of ground clearance, improved approach/departure angles, more advanced AWD system and a "more robust roof rack."

The top trim sports the company's 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood making a healthy 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque. That's sent to all four wheels via Kia's eight-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) automatically or with paddle shifters on the steering wheel. All-wheel drive is offered on all trims except for the base LX model.

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The new engine and quick shifting eight-speed DCT make for an engaging drive whether on or off the road. This is no Jeep, but it will tackle dirt roads and grass with ease. The engine noise gets a little loud in the cabin when pushed, but this SUV is bordering on sporty. When using the paddle shifters gear changes come quickly.

Despite the 20-inch wheels and low-profile tires, the ride is on the softer side, though the responsive steering keeps the fun-to-drive factor high. It doesn't lean too much in corners, or squat when the accelerator is pushed. The only problem with that is the temptation to burn more fuel. Over 300 miles of mixed driving the Sorento came back with an average mpg of just 19.9, much lower than its combined rating of 24 mpg.

Better gas mileage comes from any of the Sorento's brethren including lesser trim levels (26 MPG combined), the hybrid (37 MPG combined) and the Sorento plug-in hybrid (34 mpg combined/79 MPGe).

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The cabin punches above its price tag, with pattern stitching and warm brown leather. The natural wood trim looks great too and gives the vehicle a library-like feel. It's mostly quiet, with just a little wind and road noise piercing the interior. The full length sunroof adds a ton of light, making the Sorento seem extra roomy.

The second-row seats slide and flip for easy third row access, which is bigger than expected. Two adults could surely fit back there for a short ride, especially after adjusting that second row. One-button flips and slides that second for easy entrance and exit. With that third row flipped up, there's still enough room for a grocery run in the cargo area.

The dash and infotainment look great with a 12.3-inch digital cluster and a 10.25-inch optional media screen. Base models get an 8-inch screen. The colors are bright and the info is easy to read, but the display extends far into the passenger side, making it hard to reach the track and channel skip knob.

2022 Kia Sorento
The 2022 Kia Sorento X-Line gets an extra inch of ground clearance, improved approach/departure angles, more advanced AWD system and a “more robust roof rack.” Kia

There are redundant buttons on the driver's side but those are small too, and hard to tap while driving. Drivers can control some of this stuff on the steering wheel, but they can only skip through your favorite radio and satellite stations, instead of all of them. The climate control is done with rocker switch, which are also hard to find and move while driving.

The EX trim is where the turbo powertrain comes in, which is a good middle starting point. Buyers could add a few options and be out of the dealership for less than $40,000 without any dealer markups factored in. The three-row 2022 Kia Sorento LX with front-wheel drive starts at $30,665 including destination. This top SX Premium X-Line all-wheel drive model bumps that up considerably to $44,265.

2022 Kia Sorento
The 2022 Kia Sorento EX and higher trims deliver 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque. Kia

The Hyundai Santa Fe, Volkswagen Tiguan and Nissan Pathfinder will probably be Kia's closest competition. The Tiguan and Santa Fe are a tad cheaper to start, and the Pathfinder is a few thousand more. The Sorento Hybrid starts at $35,165 and there is a plug-in hybrid on the way, but no pricing is available.

The Kia Sorento's mix of interior and exterior styling, power and utility make it a compelling choice in the segment. If buyers can handle paying a little extra at the pump for a little more fun behind the wheel, the Sorento might be the best choice.