The 2021 Kia Sorento Challenges the Toyota Highlander

The 2021 Kia Sorento is here flexing some hybrid muscle as a 3-row SUV. It now joins the ranks with other three-row hybrids like the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander. But let’s see how the updated Kia Sorento fairs against the Toyota Highlander. 

The 2021 Kia Sorento vs. The Toyota Highlander 

Both the Kia Sorento and Toyota Highlander are trusted SUVs that have been around for quite some time. However, the 2021 Kia Sorento just got a new redesign that includes a bold new look and hybrid power. 

2021 Kia Sorento parked in gravel
2021 Kia Sorento | Kia

The 2021 Kia Sorento pricing hasn’t been officially announced yet, but the 2020 model starts around $26,000, so the price could remain low. The 2020 Toyota Highlander begins around $34,810, which is quite the leap. 

The Kia Sorento Hybrid vs. the Toyota Highlander Hybrid 

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a 2.5-liter inline-4 engine paired with an electric motor to provide 243 hp combined. The hybrid can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, according to CarBuzz

2020 Toyota Highlander in a park
2020 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

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With an EPA estimated 36 mpg range, the Toyota Highlander is pretty good on fuel. With the 17.1-gallon fuel tank, you should be able to cover up to 608 miles between gas station fillups, which is pretty convenient. 

The 2021 Kia Sorento has a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-four engine combined with an electric motor that provides 227 hp. This is a total of 16 less horsepower than the Highlander Hybrid. Also, the 2021 Kia Sorento hasn’t had a track time recorded yet. It could be faster or slower than the Highlander. 

According to CarandDriver, Kia suggests that the 2021 Sorento Hybrid can get up to 37 mpg combined, which is 1 more mile than the Highlander. Also, a plug-in hybrid variant is expected to arrive soon with 261 hp and 30 miles of electric range. 

2021 Kia Sorento and Toyota Highlander features 

The Toyota Highlander seats up to 8 passengers while the Kia Sorento only seats 7. It also has 16.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat and up to 84.3 cubic feet total. The 2021 Kia Sorento has 11.3 cubic feet of space behind the back seat and 73 cubic feet total. 

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid driving down dirt road
2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid | Toyota

Where the Toyota Highlander provides more cargo space, the 2021 Kia Sorento has a larger third row. According to AutoBlog, the Kia Sorento has noticeably more space in the third row than the Toyota Highlander does. 

The Kia Sorento X-Line is the new off-roading variant. The specs and features haven’t been released yet, but it has 8.3-inches of ground clearance and will have an advanced all-wheel-drive system that includes a snow mode. 

The Toyota Highlander also has AWD available and 8-inches of ground clearance. The independent suspension performs well against mud, rock, sand, and snow. TFLCar tested the Highlander in the wild and found that it struggled with rock crawling. We hope that the 2021 Kia Sorento will be put to the same test for comparison’s sake. 

2021 Kia Sorento driving through a stream
2021 Kia Sorento | Kia

Both SUVs have a luxurious interior made with high-quality materials and the latest tech. They can both connect to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Kia Sorento gained a new head’s up display while the Highlander has already had one for years.