First Drive – 2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

by Tony West and Daryl Payne

The refreshed Kia Sorento is still a head-turning 7-passenger SUV. The 2017 model adds more space and luxury to the interior. The Sorento design is great for large families and for adventures off the beaten path.

Years ago, Kia and Mazda forged a new path adding premium style to affordable efficient SUVs and crossovers. Fast-forward to 2017 while Toyota, Chevy and Jeep are playing catch-up, folks are still sleeping on the Kia Sorento. Yet each year I review this big-body in Chicago, I get dozens of compliments.

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

Kia’s six unique variants of the 2017 Sorento are all on-point, with the base LX having a 2.4 liter 4 cylinder (185 hp/ 178 lb. ft. torque,) the LX with a 3.3 liter V6 (290 hp/ 252 lb. ft. torque,) an EX V6, EX with a 2.0 liter Turbo I4 engine (240 hp/ 260 lb. ft. torque,) and the top of the lineup SX V6.

Three engine options are available, all with astounding fuel economy and advanced driver assistance features. Sorento pricing ranges from $26k for the base LX to $45k for the fully loaded SXL V6 all-wheel drive. We reviewed the impressive 2017 Kia Sorento SX with Limited Package and standard all-wheel drive.


Elevated Style with Premium Trim

For 2017 Kia makes many of its top-of-the-lineup features standard on the Sorento LX and EX. The SXL AWD has a wide 74 inch body with a 109 inch wheelbase. Standard 19 inch chrome alloy wheels, chrome side sills and door handles along with stainless steel front and rear bumper trim are premium perks. The truck looks like a spacious full-size.

The lighting on the Sorento SXL has been upgraded to now include standard HID headlights, LED tail lights, fog lights and stop lamp, plus a cool lights in the door handles. Adaptive Front Lighting is standard on the SXL.

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

Sports utility is enhanced with features like the chrome roof rails, programmable power liftgate, dynamic bending lights, body-color power adjustable heated mirrors with LED indicators, and oval exhaust tips.

The cabin of the Sorento SXL is tranquil thanks to an acoustic front windshield and door windows. The 2017 Sorento SXL also has standard rear privacy glass, rear sunshade screens, a solar windshield and front door windows, and a panoramic sunroof.

The interior of this wide-body SUV has a simplistic layout that hasn’t changed much this year. While the LX features cloth seats, the Sorento SXL has premium Nappa leather seats, piano black accent trim and a leather and wood steering wheel and leather shifter.

2018 Kia Sorento interior

2018 Kia Sorento interior

Drivers have a 10-way heated and ventilated seat with Easy Access, and the front passenger’s 8-way adjustable seats is also heated and ventilated.

The steering wheel is also heated. And satin chrome tricks out the door handles while aluminum trims the side sills and pedals.

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD interior

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD interior

Second row passengers have heated 40/20/40 split folding seats with underfloor storage and the 3rd row has 50/50 split folding seats.

The Sorento SXL boasts 154 cu.ft. of total passenger space. The 2nd row has 39 inches of legroom and the 3rd row has 31 inches of legroom.

Ambient lighting is upgraded in the Sorento SXL to include cool accent, escort and welcome lighting, plus LED roof lighting. Cool orange ambient lighting illuminates the dash, console, and scuff plates. The Sorento SXL also has keyless entry, push button start and rain sensing wipers.

Advanced convenience tech includes a 4.2 inch TFT instrument display with important vehicle info and stats plus an ecominder indicator, and navigation system with 8 inch display unit with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

2017 Kia Sorento 8-in display - surround view camera

2017 Kia Sorento 8-in display – surround view camera

While a 6-speaker sound system is standard on the base Sorento, the SXL features an Infinity surround sound audio system with 10 speakers. Other infotainment feature like Bluetooth, rapid charge USB ports and Sirius XM Satellite radio are standard on the Sorento SXL. The surround view monitor offers customizable angles and a 360-degree aerial view.


Versatile Efficient Engine Lineup

The Sorento most impressive feature is its fruitful powertrain. While the contoured SUV looks modest it attacks the road with calculated aggression. The Sorento SXL gets up on the highway and suspension is robust. Torque is awesomely balanced while cruising, and I can feel the rpms level out to save more gas. Bulky cornering has less finesse than I expected.

Three efficient engine options are available across the 6 variants. The base LX’s 4 cylinder boasts a combined 22 mpg EPA for the AWD models as does the turbocharged 4 cylinder on the EX. While the AWD Sorento SXL V6 engine has a 23 mpg highway EPA (17 mpg city/ 19 mpg combined.)

2018 Kia Sorento

2018 Kia Sorento

The Sorento SXL’s V6 engine features direct injection and dual continuously variable valve timing. Aluminum engine components aid efficiency and reduce weight. And the steel unibody construction adds resilience.

All three engines are matched to a 6 speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic with the SXL having paddle shifters. The Sorento SXL boasts rack mounted-motor driven power steering. And ventilated disc brakes are razor sharp.

Front independent Macpherson strut suspension and independent multilink rear suspension with dual flow damper shock absorbers allowed me to ride over large craters and not feel a thing. The only drawback is the low underbody of the new Sorento. I’d be worried to take the whip in deep wet sand, dirt or gravel.

All models also feature a Drive Mode Select with Normal, Sport and Eco modes. All models have standard safety features that include 4-wheel ABS, electronic brake distribution, Hill-start Assist Control, Electronic Stability Control, and the Vehicle Stability Management System.

2018 Kia Sorento

2018 Kia Sorento

The Sorento SXL has standard advanced dynamic driving tech like Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Rear Parking Assist System, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning System, Electronic Parking Brake, Autonomous Emergency Braking and Forward Collision Warning System.

And the front-engine Sorento SXL boasts a 5,000 lb. tow capacity.

The 2017 Kia Sorento is a truly versatile big-body with an athletic performance, efficient drivetrain and spacious interior with premium perks. It’s great for family adventure. Now young buyers are taking notice.


Check out more photos from our First Drive with the 2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD on Facebook Page.