2018 Kia Sorento SX Limited: Subtle, Smart Updates [Review]

2018 Kia Sorento SX Limited
[Photo: Arv Voss]
The 2016 Kia Sorento represented the third generation of the Korean automaker’s popular crossover utility vehicle. It was based on the Cross GT concept vehicle that bowed three years ago at the Chicago Auto Show. Kia also celebrated their 20th anniversary in the U.S. at that time. In that 20 years, the brand has grown from two vehicles in their stable to a total of 12.

The 2017 Kia Sorento was pretty much a carryover in terms of styling from the previous year, but added Automomous Braking and Dynamic Bending Headlamps to the technology portfolio of their top-of the-line SX Limited V6 model. Last year’s model hit the ground running, featuring a stronger body structure, a wheelbase that was 3.1 inches longer and an overall length that increased 3-inches as well as growing in width, and coming in either a versatile two or three row seating configuration and loaded with enhancements in driving dynamics and technological advancements. Overall cargo volume increased from 72.5 cu.-ft. to 74 cu.-ft., while cargo volume behind the 3rd row increased from 9.1 cu.-ft. to 11 cu.-ft., providing additional space for essentials and active-lifestyle equipment without sacrificing or intruding on rear-passenger room.

2018 Kia Sorento SX Limited
[Photo: Arv Voss]


The 2018 Kia Sorento, built at Kia’s West Point, Georgia plant, enters its third model year as a carry-over. Kia’s popular SUV offers refined utility and advanced technology, as well as a new convenience package for greater flexibility – the LX Cool & Connected Package. In addition, a third-row seat is now standard on all 2.4L AWD and 2.4L LX AWD models.

SX V6 models for 2018 now feature an auto-dimming mirror with Homelink as standard. For the SX Limited, Kia adds Rain Sensing Wipers as well. All trims will benefit from enhanced headlamp performance and an improved, more comfortable front headrest design.

The 2018 Kia Sorento is available in seven distinctive levels of trim. The two lowest trims are the base L, and LX, that moves up the scale in terms of features and equipment. Both are powered by a 2.4-liter GDI inline four cylinder. However, you can also spec a 3.3-liter V6 in the LX model. There’s an EX 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four and 3.3-liter V6. Finally, the SX and flagship SX Limited models are both powered by the 3.3-liter V6.

Depending on trim level, the 2018 Sorento comes with a 40/20/40 folding second-row as standard (4-cylinder models) or 50/50 folding third-row seven-passenger seating configurations (V6 models). For added luxury, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a 14-way power driver and 8-way power passenger seat, driver’s seat thigh extension, 4-way headrest with one-button adjustment, dual-zone HVAC and Kia’s second-generation panoramic sunroof, as well as available premium Nappa leather trim seating surfaces, similar to those found in Kia’s luxury flagship sedan, the K900 are all available.

Second- and third-row passengers will enjoy enhanced comfort thanks to a 0.5-inch increase in rear passenger space for both rows and a roomier flattened second-row center floor. Access to third-row seating is1.5 inches, while headroom throughout the cabin is plentiful.

Again depending on trim level, you have a choice of three engines. A carryover 2.4-liter normally aspirated inline-four serves as the base engine. Then there’s a 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline four-cylinder with 240 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 260 pound feet of torque from 1,450 to 3,500 rpm. If you’re looking for more power, you can get a 3.3 -liter V6 that delivers 290 horses at 6,400 rpm along with 252 lb-ft of torque at 5,300 rpm. All engine variants will mate to an electronically controlled six-speed overdrive automatic transmission with Sportmatic manual shift.

The 2018 Kia Sorento SX Limited continues to draw some of its design inspiration from nature. Overall, the Sorento displays an athletic and planted stance, communicating a pleasing edginess. The profile presents a clean and simple image that’s easily recognizable as a Sorento, with stronger shoulders and a long hood that delivers a more aerodynamic and sleek persona. The Sorento’s packaging is efficient, allowing for spacious interior volume. The front end is aggressively styled, and with its narrow headlight design, is an evolution of the upper fascia seen on the Cross GT concept, while bearing a strong family resemblance to the Kia Sedona multipurpose vehicle. Distinctive LED positioning lights set the Sorento apart from others in the midsize CUV segment.

Sitting below the headlights, the lower intake and fog lamp pockets are prominent, showcasing a sporty appearance that blends harmoniously with the overall styling proportions. Premium enhancements include available LED rear dimensional tail lamps and LED fog lamps. The Sorento rides on alloy wheels ranging from 17 to 19 inches, depending on trim level.

2018 Kia Sorento SX Limited
[Photo: Kia]


Moving to the inside, the overall interior theme focuses on the stability of a horizontal plane, with the design motif providing a strong foundation for premium textures and high-quality materials found throughout the 2017 Sorento’s cabin. In terms of progressive technology, four UVO eServices are available: Geo-fencing, Speed Alert, Curfew Alert and Driving Score. Additionally, with the introduction of the Kia App store, select apps may be downloaded at no charge from iTunes or Google Play.

The Kia app connector is available for partnership with the content community for downloading apps such as Yelp. Soundhound, Pandora and iHeart Radio are planned for the future. Other comfort and convenience technologies that are featured in the UVO system include Siri “Eyes Free” and Local Search by Google. Both can be used for finding locations, addresses and points of interest. Sirius XM Travel Link, offers access to traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports scores, stock information and movie times.

Accessed through a crystal-clear 8-inch capacitive-touch color screen, the available navigation system features SD card storage for map data and USB support for high-speed updates. There’s also an integrated rear backup camera, Bluetooth hands-free support and UVO voice recognition.

Safety features include basic seatbelt anchor pretensioners and six airbags. All Sorento models carry standard active safety features such as Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Brake Assist, Hill-start Assist, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and anti-lock brakes. Additional technologies such as Roll Over Mitigation and Cornering Brake Control on AWD models also were added as standard equipment to improve dynamic control and safety.

2018 Kia Sorento SX Limited
[Photo: Kia]
Available driver aid technology in the Sorento includes Vehicle Stability Management, Forward Collision Warning, Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Surround View Monitor.

Sorento will continue to offer an advanced AWD system that automatically routes power to the wheel with the most traction. Should conditions require more sure-footed capability, a 4WD Lock Mode splits engine power evenly between the front and rear drive shafts. The system also provides drivers the added stability of Torque Vector Cornering Control, which is activated when yaw and steering sensors detect unwanted understeer. V6 models are capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds.

My test 2018 Kia Sorento was in SX Limited trim. The exterior was clad in Platinum Graphite Metallic paint. The interior was finished in black with a satin finish and nickel-toned trim accents. The base MSRP for the Kia Sorento SX Limited is $46,200. Destination charges bumped the final price up to $47,190.


Driving the 2018 Kia Sorento SX Limited AWD with the top-range 3.3-liter V6 was a pleasurable experience. The performance level satisfied in terms of acceleration. The four-cylinders obviously have to work a little harder and generate more noise in the process, but not to the point of being objectionable. The transmission shifts smoothly – almost imperceptibly in either fully automatic mode or in manual mode. The latter mode proved to be somewhat more responsive.

The interior ambiance and the ride quality are quite pleasing. Not too firm and not too soft. Handling offered up good on-center steering feel and planted, stable progress. Bottom line, the 2018 Kia Sorento in any configuration delivers a solid value. It’s a package that is not only good looking, but is capable of fulfilling a wide variety of functional desires and individual requirements.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Kia Sorento SX Limited AWD

Base MSRP: $46,200
Price as Tested: $47,190
Engine: 3.3-liter, DOHC V6 w/ dual CVVT and direct injection
Horsepower: 290 hp @ 6,400 RPM
Torque: 252 lbs.-ft. @ 5,300 RPM
Transmission: Six-speed automatic w/ Sportmatic manual shift
Drivetrain: Transversely-mounted front engine, AWD w/ torque on demand and center locking differential
Suspension: Front: Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Rear: Independent multi-link w/ stabilizer bar and DFD (Dual Flow dampers)
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) w/ ABS, ESC, TCS, BAS, HAC and CBC
Tires: Michelin Premiere LTC 235/55 R19
Fuel capacity: 18.8 gallons
Fuel economy (EPA): 17 City/23 Highway MPG
Drag Coefficient: 0.33


Wheelbase: 109.4 inches
Length:  187.4 inches
Width: 74.4 inches
Height:  66.5 inches (w/ roof rails)
Turning Circle: 37.3 feet
Curb Weight: 4,101 pounds