The 2021 Kia Sorento Scratches the Telluride Itch For Less Money

The 2021 Kia Sorento has its work cut out for it. Any SUV trying to compete with the Telluride right now will have a hard fight ahead of it, but to share a badge, a dealership, some features, and the same class, the Kia Sorento has to work hard to stand out. Luckily, it looks to be that the redesigned Sorento might have what it takes to step to the uber-popular Kia Telluride. 

The 2021 Kia Sorento got a snazzy redesign 

Granted, the Sorento doesn’t have quite the same level of dramatic design as the Telluride. And, maybe it’s not quite as fancy, but the new Sorento isn’t coming to the fight empty-handed. The redesign gave the Sorento chiseled new lines making the smaller three-row SUV look quite handsome. The AWD SX trim is offered with a $2800 optional X-line package with a specific roof rack and special front and rear bumpers. Most importantly, it comes in something other than white. The X-Line also gets a coat of Aruba Green if you’d like, and you should like. It’s great. 

Like the Telluride, the Sorento’s interior is something pretty special. According to Car and Driver, It is slathered in brown quilted leather, well-formed door panels, and an attractive dash. The splashes of faux-wood trim go beautifully with the obvious choice of the new green paint job. In this trim, the infotainment comes in a sharp 10.3-inch touch screen that completes the 2021 Kia Sorento’s luxury look.

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

The lower trim models like the LX, S, and EX models come with a smaller 8-inch screen. Unlike the bigger screen, the 8-inch screen allows you to connect to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay wirelessly. 

How does the 2021 Kia Sorento compare to the Kia Telluride? 

Yes, the Sorento is smaller than the Telluride, but not by much. According to Car and Driver, the Sorento is only 3.4-inches shorter than its big brother. While it may be slightly more cramped inside, it’s still a three-row SUV. Some people use this as evidence that the two can’t be compared, but a small pickup truck is still closer to a full-size pickup than an SUV with similar dimensions. At the end of the day, the function remains the same. 

2021 Kia Telluride driving down an empty road
2021 Kia Telluride | Kia

Those three and a half inches translate to a third row that only fits children, realistically. This isn’t overly uncommon for third-row SUVs. However, the trunk space takes a hit in Sorento. Car and Driver could only fit two suitcases in the back, whereas the Telluride got four in the rear cargo area. That stings a little, but there is more to the Sorento story. 

What really brings them together in open combat is the bang for your buck

The base-model FWD Kia Sorento LX starts at $30,560 and ranges up to roughly $45,000 for the fully-loaded AWD SX. On the other hand, the Telluride starts at $33,160 for the base-model and goes past $50,000 with options. $3,000 is nothing to shake a stick at. And like a Ginsu knife commercial, “but wait, there’s more!” 

The Sorento has so many engine options 

Eventually, the Sorento will have four engine options. (maybe it is more comparable to a pickup?) The options cover quite the gambit; 191-hp 2.5-liter inline-four, a 281-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter four, a hybrid that pairs with a 1.6-liter turbo-four, and lastly, the plug-in hybrid that uses a bigger battery pack that allows for a 30-mile electric range. 

2021 Sorento X-Line off-roading
2021 Sorento X-Line | Kia

Is the 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid Enough to Compete With the Toyota RAV4?

As tested, the turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder is an uncommon motor for this size SUV, but that motor paired with the eight-speed automatic makes for a snappy, smooth, and efficient three-row SUV. On the other hand, the Telluride only comes with one engine, the 3.8-liter V6 making 291 hp. That 291 hp simply won’t stretch as far as the smaller, lighter Kia Sorento. 

As with every car comparison, the choice all depends on you

Yes, the Kia Telluride is the golden boy of the SUV world right now, and for good reason. It’s well-equipped, reliable, affordable, has plenty of room, is comfortable, and so on. The thing is, although the Sorento has plenty of competition across the market, it hits all the marks that Telluride hits, except it’s a little smaller. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in price and a plethora of engine options and great gas mileage. It may not be objectively better, but it will certainly scratch the itch.