2021 Kia Sorento vs. Ford Bronco Sport: a Muddy Choice

With this year’s debut of both the all-new Kia Sorento and the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport, crossover SUV buyers have––yet again––a difficult decision. Depending on your budget and desires, one of these two may stand out. But which is the better SUV option?

The 2021 Ford Bronco, the SUV sibling of the Ford F-150, in cyber orange off-roading in the wilderness
2021 Ford Bronco Sport | Ford

Of course, the Bronco Sport is off-road ready in every trim. Can the 2021 Kia Sorento crossover compete on most levels with the Ford SUV? Let’s go through a run-down to see which of these two-row crossovers is the better choice for which buyers.

The 2021 Kia Sorento

The Kia Sorento is already a favorite in the crowded crossover SUV space. For the 2021 model year, this three-row SUV brings a full redesign to the table. So what’s new for the 2021 Kia Sorento?

A gorgeous green 2021 Kia Sorento X-line parked by a lake with a beautiful mountainous backdrop
2021 Sorento X-Line

The Kia Sorento redesign loses the V6 engine and replaces it with new options like a front-wheel-drive hybrid. The base engine is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission––according to Kelley Blue Book. This engine is available for both AWD and FWD Sorento options.

There is, however, a turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder good for up to 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. This Kia Sorento engine option is also available in both FWD and AWD. The new Sorento tows 3,500 pounds. According to the EPA, the 2021 Kia Sorento gets 25 mpg overall. That means the new model is about 3 mpg better in terms of fuel economy than the previous generation.

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport

All-new to the Ford SUV lineup, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport SUV debuted alongside the brawnier Ford Bronco. However, this crossover SUV has more in common with the Ford Escape than the Bronco––according to RoadShow. It enters the competitive space with other small-yet-capable crossovers like the Subaru Crosstrek or the Jeep Compass. But we think that in terms of its style and relative size it may also compete with the slightly larger 2021 Kia Sorento crossover.

a blue Bronco Sport unibody SUV in the wilderness
The all-new Bronco Sport Badlands series in Area 51. (Pre-production model pictured.)

The 1.5-liter, 3-cylinder engine supports a drivetrain that features a really unique G.O.A.T. (goes over any terrain) mode. This amplifies the small two-road Ford crossover SUV’s off-road ability. Already, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport SUV comes standard in every trim with AWD. You can upgrade the engine to a turbocharged inline-four and tows up to 2,205 pounds according to Ford.

The Kia Sorento X-Line

The Kia Sorento X-Line is an off-road tuned version of the crossover SUV. This trim features aggressive styling, higher ground clearance, and it comes standard with AWD. In terms of an off-road vehicle, this is definitely the Sorento that competes head on with the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport.

2021 Sorento X-Line off-roading
2021 Sorento X-Line | Kia

The Ford Bronco Sport lacks one important box-checking feature

The primary box-checking feature that separates these two crossover SUV options is the third row. The Ford Bronco Sport does not offer the option for the third row. The 2021 Kia Sorento on the other hand features a third row with the option for second-row captain chairs. If you are looking for an SUV with extra seating accommodations, the Sorento will be your best bet. The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is designed for taking small groups out into the backcountry, so larger families will have to pass.

he all-new Bronco Sport small SUV comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen, which gives the driver a close look at the trail ahead courtesy of an available class-exclusive front off-road camera. (Pre-production model pictured.)
2021 Ford Bronco Sport interior | Ford

The choice is muddy

According to KBB, the new Kia Sorento crossover will have a price range from somewhere around $30,000 up to about $50,000. The Ford Bronco Sport SUV is priced between $26,660 – $32,660––according to KBB. The Kia Sorento X-Line has an estimated starting price around $40 grand or a bit higher.

2021 Kia Sorento Interior
2021 Kia Sorento Interior | Kia

Consumer Reports Says the 2020 Kia Sportage Has 1 Major Drawback

Between the two, the Kia offers a bit more luxury in the interior. Plus, it accommodates an entire row of extra passengers. The Ford Bronco Sport, however, lends more off-road tuning than the Sorento. Overall, the choice isn’t clear unless the third row is what makes or breaks your decision.