By on July 20, 2017

2018 Kia Sorento Korea - Image: in third-generation form for the 2016 model year, it appears as though the Kia Sorento is due for some upgrades only two years into its lifecycle.

Perhaps the Sorento is in need of some changes. In a booming SUV/crossover market, Kia Sorento sales are down 15 percent in the United States through the first six months of 2017. It’s difficult enough matching 2016’s sales pace in 2017 when car sales are fading, but at Kia, both the Sorento and even newer Sportage are in decline, as well.

2018 Kia Sorento KDM - Image:, short Sorento supply remains something of an issue for Kia’s Georgia-built Sorento. But regardless of the issues at play, it’s unlikely that these Sorento changes — if and when they reach across the Pacific to the U.S. market — will be all that noticeable.

Kia USA’s 2018 Sorento is officially labelled a carryover model, which means Kia USA is either skipping these modest changes for MY2018, accepting them as mid-model year changes (as Kia has done with the Sorento in the past) or benefiting from the upgrades for MY2019.

Tipped by Australia’s CarAdvice, we checked Kia’s Korean consumer site to find that the “Over The Upper Class” new Sorento is featured quite prominently. One wonders, as always, if the word “new” is being overused.2018 Kia Sorento interior - KDM - Image: headlights go full LED. The grille asks for more attention, the foglights resemble more closely the Sportage’s, the lower intake may appear capable of slightly more intake. The rear features exposed tailpipes. The interior displays some available quilted leather and a new shifter.

That shifter, according to, controls an eight-speed transmission — Kia’s 2018 U.S.-market Sorentos still route power through six-speed automatics.

We do know that, despite calling it a carryover model, Kia is making some equipment changes to the U.S. market Sorento for MY2018. A third row will now be standard on basic 2.4-liter all-wheel-drive models. A Cool & Connected package for 2.4-liter-powered Sorentos also adds dual-zone automatic climate control and UVO infotainment to lower-end models.


Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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14 Comments on “Time for Some Tinkering: Kia Reveals Sorento Styling Alterations and a New Transmission In Korea...”

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The three-spoke steering wheel in the 2016-2017 Sorento looks better. Other than that, well done. Bear in mind, of course, that this is probably the equivalent to our SX-L model, with its full-LED treatment and quilted leather. You can expect lesser trims to look considerably more tame.

    However, the Sorento is—as it has always been—a vehicle that sells reasonably well, but without any ceremony or celebrated presence in the market. In other words, it is an appliance. Even other appliances, like the Pilot, Highlander and Explorer, invoke positive feelings and desire within their target demographics, but not the Sorento.

    • 0 avatar

      After reading several positive reviews, I sampled the Sorento myself recently. I have to say, it’s not an appliance at all. It does most things surprisingly well. It’s quiet, the powertrain is smooth and linear, and the materials on the Limited trim are better than anything from its Japanese competition save the CX-9 Signature. The only real gripe I had with it were the front seat headrests, which are a little too intrusive even in their rear-most setting. Fuel economy isn’t great, either, but the new 8-speed should address that to some degree. If the rumored hybrid ever makes an appearance, I’ll give it some serious consideration. Assuming they fix the annoying headrests, that is.

    • 0 avatar

      The Explorer drives like a wobbly cow in comparison to the Sorento. It doesn’t evoke emotion at all, except from the Ford fanboys who haven’t driven anything else and don’t realize how uncompetitive it is.

      The Sorento is, hands down, the most underrated CUV in its class. Because it actually has decent handling, unlike the Explorer or Pilot or anything Nissan builds.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That’s exactly my point. The Sorento is a very competitive vehicle, but loses out to other crossovers that have better marketing or more Land-Rover-esque styling (in the case of the Explorer). It’s regarded as an appliance. It’s also worth noting that it isn’t a true three-row vehicle, but rather an extended mid-sizer, or a 5+2. Not that it matters in terms of practicality, because most people don’t need the third row anyway (even if they think they do), but that probably hurts market perception.

      I had a 2016 Sorento LX V6 that was supposed to be a long-term rental while my car was in the shop…until it developed a flat tire and, to my dismay, the rental company decided to exchange it for a 2016 Cherokee Limited instead of patching or replacing the Sorento’s tire and giving it back. The Sorento was far and away the better car, even if the Cherokee did come loaded to the gills, and I was highly impressed with the former.

  • avatar

    The Sorento looks “ok” and the new Sportage looks excellent in my view…. however some of the sales doldrums may have to do with the fact that the Korean price advantage has shrunk significantly, and in same cases is a disadvantage ( ie Sportage)

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I hope they can extract a few more ergotrons from the 2.4!

    Geez, when accelerating there is a lot of noise from the front of the vehicle, then when you look at the speedo you are disappointed.

    I hope Kia has fixed the engine overheating when idling in hot weather conditions. The engine requires better cooling, or removal of hot air in and around the engine.

  • avatar

    Sorento…. ah…. so much fun….

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I owned a 2004 Sorento, powered by a Hyundai licenced V6.

    It was a real SUV, full chassis, hi and lo range and enough bling for it’s time to keep you occupied.

    I never had to do anything other than fuel, oil changes and wiper blades. It was reliable, but thirsty as. I recall the worst FE I got from it was around 20 litres per 100km (5.5 gallons in 61 miles)! Granted I was sitting on 160kmph+ a lot of the time over a 350km trip.

    And it performed reasonably well off road.

    Why doesn’t Kia build a real off roader again?

    Kia is one of the largest supplier and designers of military vehicles in the world. It has the capability to produce a great 4×4, maybe even a Wrangler killer and cheaper.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      We had one, too, a 2003 with full 4WD and all the features.

    • 0 avatar
      Ant Rat

      My recent FE was about 21 l./100km on a hilly 250 km drive hauling a 1700 lb trailer in rainy weather where I often had to slow down below the posted speed limit. 2015 LX AWD 6cyl.

      Best ever about 11 / 100km.
      – tentative steering and road handling (OK, it’s not an MX-5!)
      – scary, slow response from engine/transmission when needed.
      – I can live with the uncomfortable headrests, some passengers complain.

      Some of this has possibly been addressed in newer models, otherwise great reliable vehicle, even at -35 not plugged in.

  • avatar

    I test drove its Hyundai brother. Wasn’t impressed how the V6 felt. Didn’t feel like all the HP were there.

    • 0 avatar

      I sold Hyundai and Dodge vehicles. I also noticed that it didn’t feel like the Hyundai engines had as much power as claimed. Yet, when Hyundai owners would trade their existing Hyundai in for another Hyundai (typically the same model even, Hyundai owners loved their Hyundai) I would drive the trade in to the used car manager, I noticed that the engine felt much more lively than in the new cars I was used to driving everyday. I talked to a mechanic at the dealership who worked on both dodge and Hyundai, and he said that the engine tolerances on the Hyundai was much tighter than the Dodge. I think that Hyundai engines are very green when new, but once they are broken in, they perform much better.

  • avatar

    Get rid of the 3rd row with the v6, and make it the the 2-row premium vehicle its meant to be

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