Moving Target: The 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD


2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD front 3/4 view

Competition is tough. It's gotta be tougher when it's coming from inside the family. While the Kia Telluride is a full size class larger, it absolutely raised the bar of what to expect from a loaded Korean SUV under $50,000 (no one had "convincing Range Rover impersonator" on their Bingo cards).


So where does the Kia Sorento go in its redesign?

2021 Kia Telluride X-Line rear 3/4 view

The answer? In its own direction. Kia chose to avoid the "same sausage, different lengths" approach to SUV-building, giving the new Sorento very much its own design language.


I've been a fan of the Sorento since our 2014 eight-day camping trip to Utah, when my wife (in her premarital "Navigator" days) and I found the 2015 SXL model to be exactly the right vehicle for us, our equipment and 1,800 miles of the American West.


Seven years later, I'd be more than eager to do it all over again in the 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD.

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD hood up

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD engine

The X-Line is the Sorento's off-road oriented model. Under the hood is a 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder with 281 horsepower and 311 pounds per foot of torque. Mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, zero to 60 happens in 7.2 seconds. The EPA fuel economy estimate is 21 city/28 highway.


The all-wheel drive system has a locking center differential, drive mode select with snow mode and Kia has raised the X-Line by an inch, giving it better ground clearance than other Sorentos.

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD rear liftgate up

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD cargo area

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD interior

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD second-row seats

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD front seats

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD front seat detail

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD instrument panel

The base price of the 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD is $42,590. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at that price are navigation, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, USB chargers for all three rows, power heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a panoramic sunroof, 20-inch matte finish alloy wheels and a Bose Premium Audio system.

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD steering wheel and gauge cluster

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD gauge cluster

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD infotainment and HVAC

The only extra-cost options on our test vehicle were an X-Line Rust interior package (color, not corrosion) for $200, carpeted floor mats for $210 and a carpeted cargo mat with seatback protection for $115. So with $1,175 inland freight and handling, the as-tested price of the 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD is $44,290.

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD front view

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line side view

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD rear view

Incredibly, that as-tested price is only $1,695 more than the as-tested price of the 2015 model we took to Utah. And the '21 is better equipped, more powerful and more fuel-efficient. Once again, the Sorento is the right vehicle in its class.



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