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The venerable Kia Telluride is practically the undisputed leader of the midsize three-row SUV segment for its stellar pragmaticism, handsome styling, upmarket cabin, intuitive layout, and strong value prospects. Although it’s not nearly as heralded, the Kia Sorento is another three-row, midsize SUV within Kia’s lineup that shares many of the same positive attributes as its more popular stablemate. And it remains even more popular than Mazda’s biggest SUV.

The Sorento is a smaller, but just as appealing, Kia 3-row SUV

The Kia Sorento is a strong choice for those seeking the convenience of a smaller three-row SUV that can still haul more than five passengers and/or a large amount of cargo without overly bulky dimensions.

The Sorento has a capacity for seven passengers as standard, with upper trims offering seating for up to six. The accommodations for rear passengers are, unsurprisingly, not as commodious for rear passengers as the larger Telluride, but the rear row can certainly fit smaller kids or even adults in a pinch. The Sorento offers a spacious 45 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row when only two rows are needed for passengers.

The Kia Sorento is more maneuverable around town and in tight parking garages than the Telluride — the Telluride is about eight inches longer overall and several inches wider — and its base 2.5-liter four-cylinder is far more efficient than the Telluride’s V6. The Sorento returns 26 combined mpg to the Telluride’s 21.

The Sorento can also save buyers at the dealership. A base LX model costs $31,415 MSRP, while the Telluride commands $37,255. The cost savings for the Sorento does not result in a loss of family-friendly features, either. Kia’s smaller three-row SUV is still just as well-equipped as the Telluride.

Buyers haven’t forgotten the Sorento

The Kia Sorento may not get the same share of the spotlight in Kia’s lineup as the Telluride, though its appeal is certainly strong enough to land plenty of buyers in its camp. Through the first four months of the year, Kia has outsold the Mazda CX-9 by a figure of about two to one. Over 27,000 Sorento models were sold during that span, while 13,147 CX-9s were sold, according to GoodCarBadCar.  

The CX-9 is certainly the sprightlier option, and its cabin is more refined, but the Sorento has plenty of pragmatic advantages over the Mazda. The CX-9 is among the smaller midsize three-row SUVs for passengers and cargo despite it being larger overall than even the Telluride. The Sorento offers seating for up to seven in its base trim, while the CX-9 is limited to six, and the Mazda holds just two more cubic feet of cargo behind the rear row (12.6 to 14.3 cubic feet).

The Kia Sorento also delivers a strong value proposition. Its well-equipped midrange SX trim costs a few hundred dollars less than the CX-9, and its 281-hp turbo 2.5-liter delivers 54 more ponies than the Mazda’s 2.5-liter engine.

The 3-row Kia Sorento SUV is a strong choice against the CX-9


The 2023 Kia Sorento Is the Best Cheapest New 3-Row SUV

The Kia Sorento may not garner the same level of attention among three-row SUVs as the Kia Telluride, but it’s a top choice for those seeking to move the maximum amount of people and stuff in a smaller package. And considering its advantages over the CX-9, it’s hardly surprising more buyers are turning up at Kia dealerships for their next family hauler.