If vehicles had their own astrological signs, we’d be in the Age of Sport Utility. Some automakers have gone as far as to completely remove cars from their lineup, like Buick. Others have more than one type of SUV in their lineup. Take the 2021 Kia Sorento as an example. Though seemingly counterintuitive, Kia has included the newly redesigned Sorento in its three-row crossover SUV family along with the Telluride. Each one of these crossovers has unique strengths and glaring weaknesses. As for the 2021 Sorento, most critics seem to agree that its cargo space is less than some rivals.
The 2021 Kia Sorento’s weaknesses might make it unattractive for families
We’ve written about how the SUV has replaced the minivan as a family vehicle. In doing so, SUVs have had to adopt some of the characteristics that made minivans such perfect vehicles for families. Things like third-row seating, second-row 40/20/40 rear bucket seats, rear passenger entertainment, and adequate cargo space have become mandatory. And as technology progresses, additional features such as a power lift-gate have practically become the norm for SUVs.
While the Sorento does offer a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, rear air conditioning vents, as well as one-touch sliding and folding second-row seats, the third-row cargo space is only 12.6 cubic feet. To put it quite bluntly, that’s terrible. According to Car and Driver, some of the best midsize third-row SUVs include the 2021 Kia Telluride (ironically), the 2021 Hyundai Palisade, and the 2021 Mazda CX-9. But if it’s rear cargo space you need, the Chevrolet Traverse (23 cubic feet), Volkswagen Atlas (20 cubic feet), and Ford Explorer (18 cubic feet) are the way to go.
Lastly, the Car and Driver review tries to make the argument that the Ford Explorer is “expensive,” yet it’s only $3,000 more than the Sorento. Other models such as the Telluride, Palisade, Highlander, and Ascent are either priced the same or slightly higher. Per Kia.com, the base Sorento has an estimated MSRP of $29,390. But you can easily come close to spending $50,000 for a more than well-equipped Sorento SX Prestige X-Line.
The Sorento’s safety features make up for its paltry cargo space
RELATED: Is the 2021 Kia Sorento Safe?
Probably the most important thing for vehicle owners with families other than space is safety. As of the date of writing, authorities such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have published little to no safety information concerning the 2021 Kia Sorento. However, we can take a look at some of the standard and optional safety features that are available.
Korean automakers have a reputation for offering great standard driver-assist features and safety. The Sorento is no different in this regard. It comes with almost a dozen standard advanced safety features including automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, safe exit assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, and many others. You can also expect a rearview camera, traction control, stability control, and anti-lock brakes (ABS) with the base LX trim.
A general overview of the 2021 Kia Sorento
The new Kia Sorento is offered in six trims and 10 configurations. Oddly, the lower LX and S trims are the only ones that seat seven people standard. The four higher trims only seat six. Every model comes standard with front-wheel drive (FWD) while all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional on the LX, S, EX, and SX. The SX Prestige only comes with FWD while the SX Prestige X-Line is only offered with FWD.
There is a significant difference in the engine of the LX compared to all the other trims. The LX is powered by a 191-hp 2.5-liter I-4 engine which is paired with an eight-speed semi-automatic transmission. That means part of its operation is automated but still requires the driver’s input. The eighth gear is considered to be the “overdrive” gear on the 2021 Sorento.
Every other trim after that comes with a 281-hp 2.5-liter I-4 engine with the same transmission. Trims like the SX, SX Prestige, and SX Prestige X-Line have an optional turbocharged variant. Kia is also offering an eco-friendly Sorento Hybrid that’s powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder and 44-kW electric motor.