2013 Kia Sorento Review and Prices

Last Updated: May 23, 2012

Like this Review

2013 Kia Sorento Buying Advice

The 2013 Kia Sorento is the best crossover for you if you want a solid SUV that still has lots of selling points in the final year of its current design.

The 2013 Kia Sorento shuffles some available features to meet customer demand but otherwise returns as a solid midsize wagon that seats up to seven. Kia is a division of South Korean automaker Hyundai. The brands share several car and crossover designs but clothe them in distinct styling, and Kia tends to deliver a slightly sportier driving experience. The 2013 Sorento is the underskin twin of the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe. The Santa Fe is redesigned for model-year 2013, and Sorento will follow suit for model-year 2014. The biggest change will be introduction of two body lengths, the longer accommodating the third-row seat now shoehorned into a single Sorento body length.

Should you buy a 2013 Kia Sorento or wait for the 2014 Kia Sorento? Wait for the 2014 Sorento if you crave the latest styling and need those extra two seats; the long-body version will finally make the third row spacious enough to accommodate humans larger than toddlers. Buy a 2013 Sorento if you’re inclined to sniff out inventory-clearing bargains on a crossover that remains highly competitive even in its swansong season.

2013 Kia Sorento Changes back to top

Styling: The 2013 Kia Sorento is a visual rerun of the 2012 Sorento and features Kia’s assertive “tabbed” grille design and a square-shouldered stance that gives it a masculine bearing. Size wise, the 2013 Sorento is slightly smaller than a midsize-class norm defined by such popular crossovers as the Chevrolet Equinox and Ford Explorer. That’s true especially in a wheelbase shorter than that of those rivals by some six inches.

Wheelbase, the distance between front and rear axles, is critical for passenger legroom and one reason Sorento feels relatively cramped in the second row and positively confining in the third row. On the other hand, cargo room is competitive and Sorento’s shorter body makes it easier to maneuver, park, and garage. 

The 2013 Sorento model lineup continues in base LX, midlevel EX, and top-line SX trim. All versions have two front bucket seats and a three-passenger split/folding second-row bench. Standard on the SX and LX V-6 models and available on the other Sorentos is a tiny 50/50 split/folding third-row bench. Cargo volume is 9.1 cubic feet behind the third row, 37 cubic feet behind the second row, and 72.5 behind the first row. 

Kia visually differentiates the 2013 Sorento models primarily by giving the SX a slightly upscale look via stainless steel exterior trim and body-colored bumpers and wheel arches. Alloy wheels are standard on all models, with the LX getting 17-inchers and the EX and SX getting 18s.

Mechanical: The 2013 Kia Sorento continues with three available engines – two four-cylinders and a V-6 – plus automatic transmission and a choice of front- and all-wheel drive. That’s about par for the midsize-crossover field, although Sorento stands out because one of its four-cylinder engines has a particularly effective combination of power and fuel-efficiency.

Standard on the front-wheel-drive LX model is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 175 horsepower and 169 pound-feet of torque. (Think of torque as the force that produces acceleration, horsepower as the energy that sustains momentum.)

Available on that model and standard on the other four-cylinder LX and EX Sorentos is a 2.4-liter that employs direct fuel injection and other engineering advances to generate 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. Kia dubs this its GDI (Gas Direct Injection) 2.4-liter. This engine also is used in several other cars and crossovers from both Kia and Hyundai.

The Sorento LX V-6 and EX V-6 models and all Sorento SX models have a 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 286 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. All 2013 Sorentos come with a six-speed automatic transmission whose floor shift lever includes a separate gate for manual-type gear control. Towing capacity is a crossover-typical 1,650 pounds with the four-cylinder engines and 3,500 with the V-6

Like virtually every crossover SUV, the 2013 Sorento is based on a front-wheel design that concentrates the mass of the engine above the front tires for good snow traction. Sorento’s all-wheel drive (AWD) system normally operates in front-drive but maximizes traction by automatically shuffling power to the rear wheels when the front tires begin to slip. The system is a bit more capable than some because it features a dashboard button that locks in a 50/50 front/rear torque split to provide extra low-speed grip.

Features: Popular features as standard equipment or available at low cost is a competitive weapon both Kia and Hyundai wield effectively. The 2013 Sorento continues the practice, although fine-tuned to more accurately satisfy what Kia perceives as buyer preference.

Among the key changes, leather upholstery, previously standard on SX models and optional on EXs becomes standard on both. That increases the 2013 EX models’ base price by $1,000. The 2013 SX model, meanwhile, relegates the previously standard navigation system to its options list for a corresponding $1,450 decrease in its base price. Also optional instead of standard on the 2013 SX is a heated steering wheel with a leather and wood rim. 

For the first time, the Sorento LX model is available with Kia’s Microsoft-developed UVO audio system with voice-command control, enhanced Bluetooth capabilities, and a 4.3-inch color dashboard screen that also displays a review camera. The UVO system remains standard on EX and SX models. Also for model-year 2013, the third-row bench seat, previously standard only SX models, is now standard on the EX V-6; it remains an $800 option on the other Sorentos. 

Continuing among the standard features on all 2013 Sorrentos is air conditioning (dual-zone automatic on EX and SX models), a trip computer, height-adjustable driver’s seat, and tilt/telescope steering wheel. The steering wheel includes controls for the audio system and for the Bluetooth hands-free cell-phone connectivity that’s standard on all Sorentos. It also contains cruise-control buttons. Sorento was among the first in its class to equip every trim level with a USB iPod interface and that continues for model-year 2013. Heated mirrors with LED turn-signal indicators also are standard, and EX and SX come with leather upholstery.

Audible rear obstacle detection is optional for the LX and standard on EX and SX trims. Standard on SX and EX models and optional on the LX are heated front seats. That feature isn’t unusual in this class, but Sorento is among the few in its competitive set to also offer a cooled driver’s seat; it’s optional on the EX V-6 model and standard on the SX. Keyless entry is standard on all 2013 Sorentos, with pushbutton ignition included on SX and EX models. A voice-activated navigation system is optional on all but the LX.

Among features rare in this class, the 2013 Sorento is available with a panoramic sunroof that replaces most of the steel roof with a large tilt/slide-opening moonroof over the front seats and a huge fixed glass pane over the rear seats. A power driver’s seat is standard on SX and EX models and a power passenger seat is standard on SX and optional on EX; memory control is optional on all these applications.

Newly available is an LX Convenience Plus Package that for the first time adds the power driver’s seat and leather-wrapped steering wheel to the base Sorento model. The package includes a family first aid kit that also becomes a part of all 2013 EX and SX Premium option packages.

2013 Kia Sorento Prices back to top

Base-price range for the 2013 Kia Sorento is $23,950-$34,200. Compared with 2012 Sorento prices, there’s no increase on the low end but a decrease at the top, the latter reflecting absence of the navigation system as 2013 SX standard equipment.

In all, the 2013 Sorento remains priced slightly under comparably equipped midsize crossover competitors. (Base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandatory destination fee; Kia’s fee for the 2013 Sorento is $800.)

Base price for the 2013 Sorento LX with the 175-horsepower four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive is $23,950. Technically, that’s the base price of the front-drive LX with the 191-horsepower GDI four-cylinder. However, Kia mandates that GDI-powered LXs be equipped with a $2,000 Convenience Package that includes the uprated engine, roof cargo rails, a reverse obstacle detection system, inside rearview mirror with build-in backup-camera display, heated front seats, and fog lamps.

With AWD and the GDI engine, the 2013 Sorento LX starts at $26,250. Base price for the 2012 Sorento LX V-6 is $26,500 with front-wheel drive and $28,200 with AWD.

The GDI four-cylinder is standard on the 2013 Sorento EX and this model is priced from $27,750 with front-wheel drive and from $29,450 with AWD. Besides leather upholstery, the 2013 Sorento EX comes with automatic-on headlamps and the aforementioned 18-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and pushbutton ignition.

Base price for the 2012 Sorento EX V-6 is unchanged from model-year 2012, at $28,750 with front-wheel drive and $30,450 with AWD. 

The 2013 Kia Sorento SX includes the V-6 and starts at $32,500 with front-drive and $34,200 with AWD. SX models again come with leather upholstery, heated front seats, power driver’s seat and other amenities. The navigation system is now part of the $3,000 SX Premium Package option that also includes the panoramic sunroof, cooled driver’s seat with memory, the heated wood and leather steering wheel, and Homelink remote gate and garage opener, among other amenities. Sans the navigation system, that option package was priced at $1,500 for the 2012 Sorento SX.    

Among other notable 2013 Sorento options, the $3,200 Premium Plus Package for  four-cylinder  EX models includes navigation, leather upholstery, heated front seats, driver-seat memory and a power front passenger seat, power folding outside mirrors with memory, third-row seating, and an ungraded 10-speaker Infinity audio system.

2013 Kia Sorento Fuel Economy back to top

EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2013 Kia Sorento should keep it near the top of its competitive set for both the four- and six-cylinder versions.

With the 175-horsepower four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive, the 2013 Sorento LX is rated 21/29/24 mpg city/highway/combined.

The 2013 Sorento LX and  EX with the GDI four-cylinder engine rate 22/32/25 mpg with front-wheel drive and 21/28/23 mpg with AWD. With this engine, the 2013 Sorento LX and EX should remain at or near the top of the four-cylinder midsize-crossover class for fuel economy. Note also that the GDI engine is actually more fuel-efficient than Sorento’s less powerful base four-cylinder. That means the 175-horsepower front-drive LX’s money savings come from its lower initial purchase price, not in gas mileage over the long haul.

Fuel economy ratings for the 2013 Sorento LX V-6, EX V-6, and SX are 20/26/22 mpg with front-wheel drive and 18/24/20 with all-wheel drive.

2013 Kia Sorento Release Date back to top

The 2013 Kia Sorento went on sale in February 2012.

What's next for the 2013 Kia Sorento back to top

The all-new Sorento due for model-year 2014 represents an unusually rapid renewal for a vehicle these days. The current Sorento launched for model-year 2011 as the first Kia built at the company’s plant in West Point, Georgia. Arrival of the all-new 2014 Sorento means a second-generation lifecycle of four years instead of the customary six or more.

For clues about the third-generation Sorento, look to Kia’s compact Sportage crossover for styling and to Hyundai’s redesigned 2013 Santa Fe for engineering. Expect the 2014 Sorento to adapt some of the tauter, sportier lines of the Sportage, especially the more tapered evolution of the grille-headlight ensemble.

From the Santa Fe, the 2014 Sorento will adopt a two-body-length strategy. The regular-length version should have a wheelbase and overall length almost identical to the 2013 Sorento’s. But it’ll offer just first- and second-row seating repackaged to improve rear passenger legroom. Expect the extended model to add about four inches to wheelbase and overall length. This will be the seven-seat version and should give third-row passengers much more room than they have in the second-generation Sorento. Cargo volume should grow, as well.

As for powertrains, expect the 2014 Sorento to again offer four- and six-cylinder power but with some new engines in the mix. The 175-horsepower four-cylinder will probably be dropped, making the GDI four-cylinder the new base engine for the regular-length Sorento. And replacing the 3.5-liter V-6 should be a new 3.3-liter V-6 with about 290 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. This would probably be exclusive to the extended-length 2014 Sorento.

Kia also is likely to make the regular-length 2014 Sorento available with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. That would create a sporty model with the power of a small V-6 (around 265 horses) but the fuel economy of a four-cylinder (expect highway ratings as high as 30 mpg for the front-drive version). All variations of the 2014 Sorento should be available with front- and all-wheel drive, plus Kia’s usual wide assortment of features at competitive prices.

2013 Kia Sorento Competition back to top

Chevrolet Equinox: Freshened styling and a bigger V-6 will update the 2013 version of this five-seat crossover. That should help Equinox defend its standing as America’s best-selling midsize SUV. Equinox will continue with a four-cylinder of about 182 horsepower but replace its 264-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 with a 301-horse 3.6-liter V-6. Updated infotainment should also be a part of this midcycle freshening.

Ford Explorer: Redesigned for model-year 2011, the 2013 Explorer should continue little changed. It’ll gain come in a single body length with three-row seating standard. Expect a V-6 of around 290 horsepower to again be available with front- or all-wheel drive. Also returning should be an extra-cost turbocharged four-cylinder from Ford’s EcoBoost engine family. The latter should continue with about 237 horsepower and better fuel economy than the V-6, but is likely to again be offered only with front-wheel drive.

Subaru Outback: Think outside the crossover box and seriously consider this Subaru that looks like a station wagon but rivals or surpasses many midsize SUVs for passenger and cargo volume. The 2013 Outback will continue as a five-seater with a choice of a four-cylinder engine of around 180 horsepower and a six-cylinder of some 270. A highly capable AWD system will again be standard and team with a generous 8.7 inches of ground clearance for surprising capability in deep snow or moderately demanding off-roading. Outback is due a midcycle freshening in model-year 2014.

2013 Kia Sorento Next Steps