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January 21, 2014

Review: 2014 Kia Sorento LX CRDi 2WD 5-Seater

Photos by Ulysses Ang
Undoubtedly, Kia has gone through a dramatic design-led transformation of late. They’ve been delivering dynamically-styled vehicle in several important segments at exactly the right time. In the mid-sized SUV segment, a segment more often known for bland utility, the Kia Sorento first came into the market in 2002 and since then has given Filipino buyers a somewhat leftfield choice in the ubiquitous sea of Fortuners and Montero Sports. In 2009, the Sorento (the current model) migrated from its body-on-frame beginnings and transformed into a sophisticated uni-body crossover in the process. Updated with a substantial re-design just last year, the Sorento not only ticks the right boxes when it comes to design, but also in sophistication, drivability, and of course, value for money.

The Kia Sorento offers a dynamic presence thanks to its angular lines. The large flared-back headlamps, squared-off faux brake ducts (or fog lamps on higher-end models) and rounded nose convey strength and authority. It looks visually wider than it seems because of the wide “Tiger Nose” grille and side mirrors. The black mesh detail in the grille also extends to the lower bumper giving the Sorento a sportier attitude. New LED park lamps create an eyebrow look while projector-style headlamps peer behind the tapered clear lenses. At the back, the new horizontally-positioned tail lamps look to embrace the turn signal and back-up lights. The tapered inner edges also make the Sorento instantly recognizable, especially at night. Overall, it looks every bit like a winner, but if one would be overly critical, the rear reflectors (located on the bumper) look too tacked on. It was probably done to mirror the fog lamp housings in front, but it just looks out of place next to the sleek, angular design. And the 235/65R17 tires also make it look “under tire”—this crossover’s shouting out for 18- or 19-inch rims.

Inside, it’s amazing how Kia has spent tremendous resources to update the Sorento’s dashboard. It feels elegant, considering the P 1,265,000 price tag. It feels very consistent with its fit and finish. In order to price the Sorento as low as Kia did, the 2.2 LX makes do without any sort of leather. Nonetheless, the build quality is peerless and the dash material is soft to the touch. The buttons and surrounding trim are finished in a soft, matte plastic finish lending a sense of luxury.  The large instrument panel combines easy-to-read numerals with an on-board computer nestled in the trip/odometer cluster. The center console has modern, large, and easy-to-use buttons arranged ergonomically. The single-zone manual air conditioning with second-row vents is powerful. The center console also has two cup holders with a nifty retractable lid and a large armrest storage bin enough to hold a lady’s purse. In terms of audio entertainment, the Sorento features a full suite of inputs including USB. Unfortunately, the 6-speaker sound system is barely passable in aural quality.

Another way Kia cut the Sorento’s price down is through the removal of the third-row seats. In fact, for 2014, the Sorento is almost purely a 5-seater mid-sized crossover with the exception of the P 1,905,000 2.2 EX. This may seem like a downer, but considering the “bang for the buck” size the Sorento offers, anyone will be forgiving of this shortcoming. As a 5-seater crossover, the Sorento offers a generous interior with an equally cavernous luggage space. The front seats are supportive and offer a wealth of adjustments including a tilt/telescopic steering wheel. The second row is wide and has adjustable seatbacks and headrests for all. The loading area is flat and in place of the third-row seats, it offers 515 liters of space, but that’s not counting the large under floor storage bins. However, with the second row seats folded flat, it grows to 1,530 liters.

If the engine is considered to be the heart of any vehicle, it’s safe to assume that the Kia Sorento has a powerful ticker. The 2.2-liter 4-cylinder “R” diesel produces a smooth 197 horsepower and a stout 436 Nm of torque. Step on the accelerator and it surprises with a quick burst of speed. It’s enough to shove people into their seats while chirping the front tires. The 6-speed automatic is well-mated to the engine and delivers an equally satisfyingly experience. There’s a manual shift override, but there’s little need for it, as the gearbox is adaptable. However, even if it’s the same drivetrain shared with its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Santa Fe, the Sorento doesn’t seem to have the same levels of NVH isolation. This makes the Kia sound less than refined, especially at idle or low-speed driving.

The Kia Sorento has a unique Active Eco button located just below the shifter. It helps drivers improve fuel economy by noticeably cutting engine performance and limiting torque. According to Kia, it theoretically improves fuel mileage by 11 percent, a figure matched in real-world driving conditions. During a week with the Sorento, it managed 10.30 km/L in pure city driving, a 10.9 percent improvement over a similarly-engined Hyundai Santa Fe 2WD at 9.17 km/L.

The Sorento may have been around for a while, but engineers made sure to improve and enhance the ride and handling. Though these changes aren’t visible, the Sorento rides on an all-new chassis that’s 18 percent stiffer. Furthermore, the front suspension incorporates a new sub-frame cradle while the rear uses new bushings and mounts. It’s surprisingly agile given its size and feels stable through corners. It absorbs bumps very well and the cabin’s almost free from rattles and other unwanted noise despite clocking in more than 12,000 hard kilometers. That said, the steering is numb (but responsive) because it’s still the same motor-driven assist as opposed to the electric power steering on the higher-end models. Front three-quarters visibility is less than excellent because of the thick A-pillars and the brakes have a mushy feel to them, but bite reasonably well. In the safety front, the Sorento comes with four-wheel disc brakes, dual SRS airbags, and anti-lock brakes all as standard equipment. The only thing that’s lacking are back-up sensors, which isn’t a bad thing, especially if you’re used to driving without them.

With its attractive looks and pricing, the Kia Sorento is indeed the modern mid-sized crossover that’s just right for today’s Filipino family. It may have lost the third-row seats and some luxury equipment along the way, but it offers an attractive value proposition unmatched by any other crossover in the segment. It’s got tons of space, comfortable, and quite nice to drive too. Indeed, the Sorento lives up to Kia’s tagline, “The Power to Surprise”.

2014 Kia Sorento LX CRDi 2WD 5-Seater
Ownership LX CRDi 2WD 5-Seater
Year Introduced 2009 (Facelifted: 2013)
Vehicle Classification Mid-sized Crossover
The Basics
Body Type 5-door crossover
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.2
Aspiration Turbocharged
Layout / # of Cylinders Inline 4
BHP @ rpm 197 @ 3,800
Nm @ rpm 436 @ 2,500
Fuel / Min. Octane Diesel
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control No
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,685
Width (mm) 1,885
Height (mm) 1,700
Wheelbase (mm) 2,700
Curb Weight (kg) 1,706
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-Link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires 235/65R17
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control No
Parking Sensors No
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps No
Auto Lights No
Auto Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Urethane
Seating Adjustment Manual
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Climate Control No
Audio System Stereo
No. of Speakers 6
Steering Wheel Controls Yes


  1. Always had the Sorento in my sights. Thanks for the review!

  2. Hi Ulysses, Nice review. Basis above it has the new chassis, how can we truly know that the new Sorento has indeed the new chassis.

    Fyg, really interested with the new Sorento

    1. Well, I guess we'll have to take Kia's word for it :-p But seriously even it were the old chassis, it's been extensively re-engineered. I didn't get to drive the old/pre-facelifted Sorento, but this current one's pretty good.

  3. Great car. Excellent presentation. More power to Sorento Brand.

  4. I know that Kia Sorento does have an HID and it's not Halogen, please check their main website guys

    1. The model featured is the base one so it does have halogen lights.

    2. In what price category does HID included? the 1,385,000 variant?

    3. It only comes standard on the highest variant, the 2.2 EX at P 1,905,000.

    4. Sir, which would you prefer, fortuner 4x4 or sorento 2.2 ex?

    5. It actually depends on what you're looking for in a mid-sized crossover. The Sorento definitely has better handling, car-like ride, and feels more refined overall. However, the Fortuner is designed to take on abuse such as off-roading and flooding crossing better.

      If you don't mind buying a Korean brand, I'd go for the Sorento 2.2 EX, assuming of course, you'll use it primarily for city driving. If you do the occasional off-roading or towing or even need something more flood-proof, the Fortuner is what you should get.

      That said, I know there are some people who are biased against Kia or Hyundai.

    6. Thank you for replying sir.

  5. The Sorento in this variant offers pretty good value for money, especially when compared with its cousin the Sportage and against benchmarked competitors like the Honda CR-V and the Hyundai Santa Fe.

    That said, I would prefer a slightly smaller SUV with more tech features.
    I'd love to see you compare the Mazda CX-5, Peugeot 3008, Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage Diesel AWD and Hyundai Tucson Diesel AWD with each other.

    1. Hahaha! Wish I could compare all those, but I'm just one guy. The most I can do would be head-to-head comparisons. We've already compared the Kia Sportage 2.4 DLX with the Honda CR-V 2.4 S-X before.

      What I actually want to compare is the Mazda CX-5 Pro vs Peugeot 3008...only if Peugeot would be brave enough to lend a car :-D

  6. will a manual tranmission be available in the market ?

    1. So far, there are no plans to introduce a M/T variant...but it could very well be a good seller. Hyundai as a M/T version of their Santa Fe 2WD.

  7. is there a manual transmission for hyundai santa fe?

    1. There used to be. I don't know if you can still score one at your local Hyundai dealership. It comes purely as a 2WD and in SWB (short wheelbase).

  8. M torn between everest / cx5 / captiva or this one waaaa... cx5 will be gas thenrest will be diesel

  9. Nice driving, confortable seats, low consumption, huge space, aircon is available esp. the compressor is sensitive.
    Have a 2.2 crdi 2014

  10. This is an amazing car for my family, I am well pleased with the engine. Only thing I am missing is the 3rd row seats. Though I rarely need them, it is still nice to have.

  11. If you like speed and performance, this one's for you. Mine is a 2014 model. with nearly 60k kms behind it in a little over two years, with no problem. Notwithstanding its engine's pulling power, it is thrifty on the gas. Just completed a 200+ km. tour of Sorsogon from Naga City and averaged 14.7 kms/liter over hilly and flat terrains.

  12. I have been driving a Sorento LX since October 2014, still I am satisfied and surprised by its power, great acceleration and comfort. But of course passengers are limited to 5 only but I have customized 3rd row seat made from uratex foam somehow it's quite okay.

  13. The Speed, the acceleration, the ride, overall GREAT vehicle!!

  14. i love it kia sorento very good perpormance...


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