In the world of automotive reviews and reporting, many automotive media outlets typically agree with each other regarding the best and worst examples of cars in their respective classes.
For the 2022 model year, however, Consumer Reports and J.D. Power, two of the most respected names in the informational consumer market, disagree on which midsize three-row SUV is the worst, between the Kia Sorento and the Volkswagen Atlas.
Consumer Reports on the 2022 Kia Sorento
Consumer Reports currently has the Kia Sorento SUV ranked at the bottom of its list. The Sorento debuted in 2002 as a compact SUV, and through the years, it has been one of the cheapest options for car buyers who wanted an SUV but didn’t want to pay an SUV price.
Throughout the years, the Sorento has evolved to meet market demands. For its 2009 model year, it entered the midsize segment, and for its redesigned 2021 model year, the Kia Sorento began offering three rows of seating. Currently, the Sorento fits in the Kia lineup as a bigger alternative to the Sportage without being too big and interfering with the Telluride, the largest Kia ever produced for the American market.
In 2022, the Sorento is an excellent option for those trying to keep their budget low. This midsize SUV with three-row seating starts below $30,000 MSRP. That means the 2022 Kia Sorento is one of the most affordable SUVs on the market, capable of seating seven.
The 2022 Sorento also has an updated design language to put it closer to its big brother, the Telluride, which won Motortrend SUV of the year. The fuel economy is about as expected for a modern SUV, with an EPA estimated 24 mpg city/25 mpg highway ratings.
The Sorento midsize SUV fails to seat passengers comfortably
Unfortunately, the Kia Sorento falls short in a few key areas. While it’s a midsize SUV with three rows of seats, the third row is uncomfortable with hardly any leg room. With these seats in use, cargo space is also heavily reduced, making the Sorento an uncomfortable people mover with little cargo space most of the time. Kia has improved as a brand in terms of reliability and quality over the years. However, some drivers may feel that the Sorento’s dual-clutch automatic transmission offers sloppy shifting.
With SUVs getting better every year, the Kia Sorento is just too unrefined for some tastes. However, if you are someone who has a strict budget and can forgive some uncomfortable seating arrangements, the Sorento might be precisely what you need.
J.D. Power on the 2022 Volkswagen Atlas
The Volkswagen Atlas is true to its name, after the Greek titan Atlas. The size of this vehicle is the most striking part of this midsize SUV. Starting production in 2017 as a 2018 model year SUV, the Volkswagen Atlas is one of the largest vehicles ever produced by the German automotive company. At a little over 200 inches in length, this SUV is 11 inches longer than a Hummer H2.
For the 2022 model year, J.D. Power, one of the most trusted media sources for consumer reviews, ranked the Atlas last on its list of SUVs for the year.
The 2022 VW Atlas can be a polarizing choice for an SUV buyer. On the one hand, the Atlas does a lot of things very well. It is a roomy and pleasant place to be for an extended period. Unlike the Kia Sorento, the Atlas is better equipped to seat seven adults comfortably.
The driver’s seat is also well equipped with a digital dashboard standard for the 2022 model year. The Volkswagen Atlas can also tow, and with an optional V6 engine, it can tow up to 5,000 pounds. The Atlas is also a very safe place to be, with good crash test ratings and safety features such as automatic braking and blind-spot monitoring standard.
The VW Atlas comes with a hefty price tag
Although the Volkswagen Atlas is impressive, some areas need improvement, according to critics of the SUV. For the 2022 model year, the fuel economy numbers are well below average, leaving a lot to be desired for consumers. The standard four-cylinder engine gets an EPA estimated 21 mpg city/25 mpg highway ratings.
For a midsize SUV weighing over 4,000 pounds, that little engine is working overtime to keep up. The numbers don’t get much better with the option V6 engine either, with an EPA estimated 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway ratings. The VW Atlas starts at $35,630, but for a well-equipped model, you could be paying up to $52,000. When the latest SUV of the year for many publications, the Kia Telluride, is doing more for less in almost every category, it is no question why the Atlas failed to impress J.D. Power.
Which midsize SUV is for you?
Ultimately, every brand speaks to consumers differently, and just because one media group pans one vehicle in favor of another doesn’t mean they should be avoided. They just might be the perfect fit for you. So, get out there and see these SUVs for yourself!