As the two largest Kia SUVs, the 2021 Sorento and 2021 Telluride might seem pretty similar. They’re often mentioned together. While they do have some things in common, MotorTrend points out that the two SUVs are actually pretty different. Here’s a look at how the 2021 Kia Sorento stands out.
What the 2021 Kia Sorento and 2021 Kia Telluride have in common
Both the 2021 Kia Sorento and 2021 Kia Telluride are three-row SUVs that were designed in California. They both come standard with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system that is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Upgrade screens are available, although the Sorento has a 10.3-inch screen option while the Telluride has a 10.25-inch screen option, according to Friendly Kia. Both offer either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
The 2021 Kia Sorento
The 2021 Kia Sorento has its own character, according to MotorTrend. While it is smaller than the Telluride, it definitely isn’t a mini-Telluride. Redesigned for the 2021 model year, the Sorento now has a “more chiseled look,” “a surprising driving experience, and the ability to compete across three segments,” according to MotorTrend.
The Sorento’s exterior design is different from the Telluride, including its horizontal headlights, door trim, and angular rear surfaces. The Sorento has gotten a little wider but stays the same length. It now includes more standard safety features, more engine options and power, better efficiency, and more interior room. However, it does also have a higher starting price by about $1,300 too. The previous base trim L has been eliminated, and the LX trim is the new base trim. It starts at $30,560. Even so, it’s still a very affordable three-row SUV.
Initially, the 2021 Kia Sorento has two engines available: a 2.5-liter I-4, producing 191 hp, and a 2.5-liter turbocharged I-4, producing 281 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. A hybrid and plug-in hybrid will be added later. MotorTrend found that’s a lot of power for the tires in front-wheel drive to handle, so buyers may want to consider all-wheel drive for an extra $1,800 to $2,000.
The eight-speed dual-clutch transmission included with all-wheel drive provides great performance, and MotorTrend found it gave “the type of near-immediate response you expect of sports cars.” On the flip side, that transmission is very unrefined for everyday driving. The less powerful engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Sorento provides a stiff ride and a relatively quiet cabin, but it’s still suitable for highway trips. The 2021 Sorento can tow up to 3,500 pounds, which is less than the 5,000 pounds the 2020 Sorento’s V6 engine with all-wheel drive could handle. The Sorento offers a standard third row, with seating for six or seven, and is just 189.0 inches long. The 2021 Sorento competes against the Honda CR-V, Subaru Outback, Ford Edge, and Hyundai Santa Fe.
The 2021 Kia Telluride
The Telluride was a new Kia option for 2020 and was awarded MotorTrend‘s 2020 SUV of the Year. The 2021 Telluride starts at $2,600 more than the Sorento.
The Kia Telluride has just one engine available – a 3.8-liter that generates 291 hp. There isn’t a hybrid powertrain option. The Sorento’s 2.5-liter turbocharged engine is able to generate 49 lb-ft more torque than the Telluride’s naturally aspirated V6. The Telluride’s automatic transmission is different from the dual-clutch one in the Sorento and delivers a much smoother experience.
MotorTrend found the Kia Telluride to be sedated and the Kia Sorento to be the sportier of the two SUVs. When properly equipped, the Telluride is able to tow up to 5,000 pounds. The Telluride has a boxier shape so is able to include larger third-row windows. It has a good ride and a quiet cabin. This SUV is 196.9 inches long (7.9 inches longer than the Sorento) and has seating for eight. The Telluride competes against the Subaru Ascent, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade, and Toyota Highlander.
MotorTrend proclaims the Kia Sorento to be “swifter and more stylish” but didn’t like the dual-clutch transmission option for everyday driving. It recommends taking a look at the Sorento S trim, which has a different transmission, or the upcoming hybrid option.