The 2021 Kia Sorento Is Less Capable Than You Thought

Have you seen the new Kia Sorento? It went from drab to fab, with a more confident look. New images also show the 2021 Kia Sorento doing outdoorsy things like crossing streams and being parked at campsites. However, those images may be a little misleading. 

The 2021 Kia Sorento struggles while off-roading 

TFL Off-Road got their hands on a 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line and pushed it to its limits. However, you’ll find that the limits weren’t hard to find. The Sorento was way over its head in a matter of minutes. 

But first, let’s go over the X-Line package. It’s supposed to have a lot of off-roading goodies. The base model Sorento begins around $29,390. The Sorento SX Prestige X-Line trim raises the price to about $42,590. The X-Line package can be added to any all-wheel-drive SX trim. 

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

The Kia Sorento X-Line package includes: 

  • A 1.32-inch lift, increasing the ground clearance to 8.22-inches. 
  • Aggressive bumpers 
  • A hyper silver mesh grille 
  • A bridge-type roof rack 
  • Matte black wheel arch cladding, lower doors, and front fender emblems. 
  • 20-inch grey alloy wheels. 

Notice how most of these additions are merely cosmetic. The most useful features include the alloy wheels and the lift. But it does have all-wheel-drive. Sure, four-wheel-drive is preferred by the people wanting to climb over rocks and forge streams, but AWD is better than it used to be. 

Off-roading problems with the Kia Sorento X-Line

The TFL was taking the Sorento up Tombstone Hill in the Rocky mountains. The base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder option with 191 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque. But the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine has 281 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. This was needed in the Rockies. 

At first, the Kia Sorento was able to chug along until it started to slip a little in the dirt. The enabled the smart mode center locker to increase the grip. This also enabled the front camera, which allows drivers to look at the trail in front of them. 

But this view showed the TFL ream that they weren’t even at the beginning of a steep hill yet. Then the traction control system started working really hard to get up the hill as the tires continued to slip. 

The hill descent control worked but sent the Sorento down the hill faster than expected. It’s also the only off-roading mode. Then the driver got stuck as the dual-clutch transmission began to overheat. This was when they gave up due to safety concerns. 

Does this mean the 2021 Sorento is a bad SUV? 

No, the 2021 Kia Sorento is still a great SUV option. It’s just built for getting people to their campsites instead of adventuring around them. As The Fast Lane explains in their video, this vehicle is more of a family hauler than an off-roader. 

It has a lot of benefits for families too. For example, the longer wheelbase provides more space and a smoother ride for families. According to the Edmunds Kia Sorento review, the second and third-row provide plenty of space for taller passengers. 

2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid driving around a bend
2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid | Kia

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The seats are comfortable, and the cabin isn’t too noisy. You can upgrade from an 8-inch touchscreen to a 10.25-inch infotainment center. There are six USB ports to keep everyone’s device charged, and there is an optional wireless charging pad. 

Standard safety features include forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking and land-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist. Available features include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.