The 2022 Kia Sorento elevates the entire SUV category

If you haven’t looked at the Sorento in a while, you might not recognize it. Longer, lighter and stronger than the previous generation, it offers more value than Amazon Prime! it is not a surprise KIA has worked hard over the past few years to produce fan favorites like the perfect family hauler Telluride and “how’s that good” Stinger GT.

The fourth-generation 2022 Kia Sorento continues the Korean automaker’s rise to the top of our shopping list and down our aisles. With creative technology like their Kia Connect (formerly UVO) infotainment system integrated with Amazon Alexa to let you start your car with just your voice, Kia is attracting new buyers to the (Kia) Complete Car-nival.

The question is, will that be enough to push traditional badge-conscious buyers into Kia’s rust-colored perforated leather seats? We wanted to know.

Main characteristics
  • Three rows of seats
  • 2.5L Turbo (Optional)
  • Sunroof
  • X-Line adds off-road enhancements and styling
  • Leather seats, ventilated and heated
  • Model: Sorento
  • Engine/Motor: 2.5 liter turbo
  • Powerful : 281
  • Couple : 311 lb-ft
  • Transmission: all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: CSD
  • Great value
  • Much smaller discs
  • Second-row captain’s chairs slide forward and back
  • Optional Peppy Turbo engine
The inconvenients
  • DCT not as smooth as traditional automatic or CVT
  • Wood grain inlay looks cheap

The exterior of the 4th Gen Sorento is a much needed upgrade

One of the first design elements we noticed when our 2022 Kia Sorento X-Line SX-Prestige AWD Wolf Gray ($45,120) arrived was how angular it was. Previous generations of Kia featured a rounded, soft design. This fourth generation, however, is quite the opposite. It’s like your friend whose failed romance with a bookish preschool teacher led them to date a tattooed rocker. Rock On. From the recessed “tiger nose” grille in gloss black, to the sculpted bonnet, to the pointed beltline that runs from the headlights to the tail, this fourth-generation design is another big step forward for Kia.

Kia has tasked its designers with carrying the theme of “refined boldness” throughout, and in doing so, they aim to elevate the Sorento above competition from midsize SUVs like the Toyota Highlander or Honda Pilot. The profile of the 2022 Kia Sorento reveals a longer wheelbase that creates more interior space and storage for this three-row family hauler. The angular design culminates at the rear with vertical taillights. Like other automakers, Kia extended the “Sorento” name to the rear. The arched design of the hatch is more reminiscent of the rear of a sedan than that of a traditional SUV. This aims to keep things slim, helps with aero and makes the Sorento look narrow while still being roomy inside.

The X-Line package raises the bar even higher. This subtle way of flaunting your REI purchases and having previously owned a Subaru Forester trim brings off-road elements with both style and substance. The 20-inch wheels, an extra inch of suspension and a stronger roof rack are reminiscent of the X-Line. Kia is also adding badging near the A-pillars. Careful observers will also notice better approach and departure angles for off-road adventures. Overall, the 2022 Kia Sorento looks sharp, mature, and something we’d love to have in our driveway (or parking garage).

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Turbos make everything better…even in a three-row SUV

The Kia Sorento 2022 is available in five versions, LX, S, EX, SX and SX-Prestige. For a few extra bucks, you can add all-wheel drive to each of the trims, which many other automakers don’t offer. You can also choose from four engine options. The standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine develops 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque. Throw in a turbo (don’t we all love turbos?) and that 2.5-liter produces almost 100 more horsepower at 281 hp and 311 lb-ft or torque. New for 2022 is a 1.6-litre 4-cylinder turbo hybrid for 227 hp and a 1.6-litre 4-cylinder turbo plug-in hybrid for 261 hp (due to electric motor assistance) with 30 miles of range Pure EV. Both seem like fantastic options.

The 2022 Kia Sorento X-Line we drove had all-wheel drive and the 2.5-liter turbo. The three-row Sorento impressed us with how quickly it rolled off the line and into the highway. We also liked the subtle engine note. It wasn’t overwhelming and fake, but it gave enough energy that any father leading his family would always be proud. The naturally aspirated four-cylinder gets an eight-speed automatic transmission, but the upgraded 2.5-liter turbo engine gets a dual-clutch transmission. Admittedly, we found that a bit overkill for a family-oriented three-row SUV.

The X-Line package came with off-road performance upgrades like raised suspension, but also some underpinnings like a locking rear differential and an additional Snow drive mode. Although it’s an extra inch taller, we found no issues in terms of feeling too loose or floaty. It performed well around small back roads in Georgia (Kia has built over a million Sorentos in Georgia) and on long stretches of freeway. Kia’s included Drive Wise (ADAS) advanced driver assistance settings add safety and convenience to the Sorento. We loved that despite having three rows of seats, the 2022 Kia Sorento drove much smaller than expected. Granted, it’s not a land yacht like a bulletproof Cadillac Escalade, but the overall footprint made us think it would drive bigger. We really enjoyed our time behind the wheel.

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Is this the interior of a Kia?

During our week with this car, we kept getting the same comment: “Is it a Kia?” Yes, the exterior brought a lot of stares and double takes, but the shock factor is on the inside. Rust-colored heated and ventilated perforated leather seats with quilted and embossed details instantly put this 2022 Kia Sorento in the upper echelon of non-luxury SUVs. The glossy black accents were a nice touch, but we have to admit the faux ash wood inlays in the dash and around the door handles looked cheap. Oh, you were doing so well, Sorento. We felt this took away from the ambiance.

Interior visibility was excellent. One of the hallmark design elements of the 2022 Kia Sorento is a large D-pillar which they have carried over from each generation. It’s big enough to create a blind spot in the back, but Kia has overcome that with technology. Standard on S and above, Rear Cross Traffic Alert uses motion sensors to alert the driver if a car is about to pass. If it detects movement, it displays an alert on the rear view camera screen and plays an audible alert. This saved us several times from exiting parking lots.

The panoramic roof helped the cabin feel airy, and the second-row captain’s chairs could slide fore and aft. All three rows had USB charging ports. You know, in case you had six people who forgot to charge their various devices. Speaking of tech, there’s a 12.3-inch digital dash with blind spot monitors. Once you activate your turn signal for a left or right turn, the corresponding side of the dashboard displays a live view of your blind spot. We found it a bit distracting and other than maybe a motorcyclist or cyclist passing very close to the vehicle, a bit unnecessary. But we like the screens and cameras, so Kia’s innovation is worth noting.

The base 2022 Kia Sorento has an 8-inch infotainment screen, but the S and higher trims get a crisp and responsive 10.2-inch horizontal screen. It works with Apple CarPlay or Kia’s own UVO infotainment system. Of course, with Kia’s value-driven approach to their “refined boldness,” this X-Line SX-Prestige AWD had a surround view monitor. This feature is more common these days in cars and SUVs. It uses cameras around the car to assemble an aerial view of the vehicle in real time. This feature is dynamite in a tight parking lot, saving so many people from that numbing “scraaaaaaape” when they park a little too close to a pillar. It’s brutal, isn’t it? But it’s also really useful when off-roading, making sure you don’t get too close to the edge of the trail.

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Our Takeaways: A Great SUV and an Exciting Hybrid to Come

The 2022 Kia Sorento, especially in the X-Line package, is a fantastic value SUV. They have dramatically upped the mid-size SUV game. They don’t pretend to take on the luxury Europeans (these aren’t Audi Q8-level leather seats), but brands like Infiniti, Acura and Cadillac have Korean competitors entering the ring. Of course, our top-of-the-line $45,000 tester could get you into plenty of other vehicles, including the fan-favorite Telluride (for less money). So we generally recommend looking towards the middle trims and adding some bells and whistles.

If you like the Sorento but want better gas mileage (ours has 24 mpg combined) or some EV power, Kia has granted your wish. New for 2023 is a 277-hp, 37-mpg plug-in hybrid and 30-mile EV plug-in hybrid. Each of these offerings, combined with style and interior comfort, will make it very hard NOT to make a Kia Sorento your next car.