Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we’ll let you know. If not, we’ll recommend one – or the required options – that earns a passing grade.
The popular Kia Sorento is new for 2021, packing a style that cribs more than a bit of detail from its big brother, the Telluride. Occupying a spot in the murderously competitive three-row crossover segment, Kia knows it has to bring more than just a high-value feature count to win the wallets of today’s picky consumer.
It’s entry trim is called the LX+ and bears a sticker price of $33,995. At this end of the price scale, its 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine does without a turbocharger, meaning the mill is good for 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque. This teams with an eight-speed automatic and sure-footed all-wheel drive. Every 2021 Sorento has exactly the same amount of head- and legroom in all three rows, plus identical cargo dimensions. In other words, spending more money doesn’t get buyers any extra capability in terms of hauling people or their stuff.
Kia built its brand on value, and that personality trait shines brightly in the base Sorento. Seats are upholstered in cloth across all three rows, the steering wheel adjust for reach and rake, remote keyless entry welcomes drivers upon arrival, and there is a raft of power outlets scattered throughout the cabin. The LX+ is the only Sorento in which drivers will need to dig for keys, however, since push-button start is absent on this trim.
The same 8-inch display audio infotainment screen that appears in other Sorento trims costing thousands more is on board, fitted for smartphone integration and the typical Bluetooth connectivity. Satellite radio is missing, sadly, as is dual climate control. Looks like warring factions will either be arguing about cabin temperature or music selection. Perhaps relations will thaw with the standard heated from seats.
A number of active safety systems, like advanced forward collision avoidance assist and lane keeping help shepherd things back onto the straight and narrow if the computers sense impending doom. Those 17-inch alloys look pretty good, as do the LED head- and fog lights which are shared with much more expensive trims. Annoyingly, the only zero-dollar paint option is the Ebony Black shown here; at least it blends well with Sorento’s front fascia.
What We’d Choose
Popping for a turbocharged variant of the Sorento will require stepping up to at least the X-Line trim, a $5,500 walk from the entry-level LX+. While power does jump by nearly 100 ponies, the more expensive model is also heavier and has a slight penalty on overall fuel economy. Be sure to sample both powertrains back-to-back before making a final decision.
Unless towing ranks high on your list of weekend activities (the turbo can haul 3,500 lbs compared to the non-turbo’s 2,800 lb limit), the majority of drivers will be satisfied with the less-powerful option. A case can be made, however, for spending just $2,500 more on the LX Premium trim in order to secure comfort features like dual-zone climate control and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel.