Can’t Find or Afford a Kia Telluride? The Sneakily Good Sorento Is Waiting
Kia has a pair of easily recommendable three-row SUVs in its lineup with the Telluride and recently redesigned, smaller Sorento that both hit the marks of value, quality and innovation. The redesigned 2021 Sorento was a finalist in our Best of 2021 awards, and the Telluride placed second in our most recent three-row SUV comparison. Here’s the catch: The Telluride is a hot ticket; inventory is sparse and models are selling fast. It’s also pricey.
Related: Compare the Kia Sorento Vs. Kia Telluride Specs
Right now on Cars.com, the average Telluride is on sale for just 16 days versus 37 days for the Sorento, and there are only about 2,200 Tellurides in our national inventory versus 6,100 Sorentos. And with the last advertised price on Cars.com averaging around $44,000 for the Telluride versus $37,000 for the Sorento, we think the Sorento is an incredible bargain that — on higher trims — offers many of the same qualities as the Telluride but in a smaller package. Right now, higher trims are what’s out there as about 60% of Sorentos for sale on Cars.com are EX, SX, SX Prestige and SX Prestige X-Line trims, while 68% of Tellurides are the EX and SX variety.
How Are the SUVs Alike?
While the Sorento may slot below the Telluride in size and price, there are areas of parity between the two SUVs. On the top-spec Sorento SX Prestige X-Line, for example, the Sorento has all the luxury interior appointments of the top-spec Telluride SX. The Sorento SX Prestige’s leather-trimmed seats with embossed bolsters, especially in the Rust interior color — which is a strange name for something desirable — have a luxury-esque tone and texture, as does the open-pore wood-grain trim. Both also use the same size center dashboard touchscreen, 10.25 inches, and the top trims share standard features like a 360-degree surround-view monitor and blind view monitor that shows a camera feed of the blind spot in the instrument panel.
How Are the SUVs Different?
As luxurious as the Telluride is, the Sorento one-ups it in a few areas. The Sorento has an available 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that houses all the usual goodies as well as the blind spot camera feeds. One thing we always found more useful in the related Hyundai Palisade versus the Telluride is the fully digital cluster with camera feed in the respective left or right sides of the screen compared to the Telluride display that showed the images only between the analog gauges. I’m also drawn to the Sorento’s interior styling more than the Telluride’s because of little touches like the styled air vents with metal-like bezels; the Telluride has the generic vents. Comparing top trims, the Sorento has a standard heated steering wheel, a feature that’s optional in the Telluride, and all-wheel drive with a center differential lock is also standard on the Sorento while it’s optional on the Telluride.
While most of us would call the Telluride’s acceleration competent, there isn’t any eagerness when its gas pedal is mashed and it has modest power for its size (a 291-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6). That’s not the case in the Sorento with the optional 281-hp, turbocharged 2.5-liter and eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It’s downright peppy with bursts of acceleration and a considerably more engaging driving experience than the Telluride. The Sorento is over 200 pounds lighter with 49 more pounds-feet of torque (311 versus 262) available at much lower engine speeds (1,700 versus 5,200 rpm). And even with its extra eagerness, the Sorento has better fuel economy: 24 compared to 21 mpg combined; both models also recommend regular gasoline. The Sorento’s ride quality, however, isn’t as forgiving as the Telluride’s; it has more bounce than the well-damped ride of the larger Telluride.
Related Video: 2021 Kia Sorento Review
Elephant in the Room … That Won’t Fit in the Sorento
Shoppers who need the most room possible, like a large family, will ultimately get shorted by the Sorento. Yes, it has a third row, but it’s more of a jump seat than a fully functioning third row. There’s 40% less cargo space behind the Sorento’s third row than in the Telluride (12.6 cubic feet compared to 21, respectively), though things look better behind the second row. With the second row all the way forward, there’s near equal amounts of room behind the second row in the two SUVs: 45 cubic feet in the Sorento versus the Telluride’s 46. With the second row in its most comfortable position, though, there’s 38.5 cubic feet behind the second row in the Sorento. And there’s only 13% less total cargo room with both rows folded; 87 cubic feet in the Telluride compared to the Sorento’s 75.5.
But less family friendly doesn’t stop at size. The Sorento forgoes the second-row automatic climate control panel common in larger three-row SUVs, and there isn’t a kick-to-open rear liftgate.
So what does this all mean? If you need a proper three-row SUV, it might be worth the wait to hold out — and shell out — for a Telluride. But really, if you’re looking to use your next car mostly as a two-row SUV with occasional three-row use, then get yourself scheduled for a Sorento for a test drive.
More From Cars.com:
- 2021 Kia Sorento: 6 Things We Like and 3 Things We Don’t
- 2021 Kia Sorento Very Much Alive and Kicking
- Pricing Slides Higher for Redesigned 2021 Kia Sorento
- 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid Puts a Premium on Efficiency
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