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Yesterday, we gave you our review of the 2014 Kia Forte from the press launch we attended in Arizona.



Today, it's Sorento time.

Lets look at the details first and then we'll give you the verdict.

Full 2014 KIA Sorento and Forte launch photo gallery

2014 KIA Forte details

Just three years after U.S. production of the CUV began in West Point, Georgia, the 2014 Sorento comes to market  as no mere refresh or facelift, boasting instead an all-new chassis, a new Gasoline Direct Injected (GDI) V6 engine, a substantially redesigned interior and a next-generation infotainment system.  Expected to arrive in showrooms during the first quarter of 2013, the redesigned Sorento also adds a top-of-the-line trim level to its lineup – the SX Limited – which delivers an impressive roster of premium features and amenities.







“With each new vehicle launch Kia is advancing the concept of value to new levels of sophistication and with significant chassis, suspension, powertrain and comfort and convenience upgrades the new Sorento continues that trend,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president, marketing and communications, KMA.  “With more than 80 percent of the 2014 Sorento including new or significantly redesigned parts, it’s obvious that the improvements are not just skin deep; including technological enhancements such as UVO eServices, the next generation of our voice activated telematics system, and Kia’s first-ever blind spot detection system.2”

Fundamental Changes Improve Performance, Ride and Handling

If the engine is to be considered the heart of any vehicle, it’s safe to assume the new 2014 Sorento has a powerful ticker beneath its sculpted hood. New this year, the all-aluminum 3.3-liter GDI V6 produces a smooth 290 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and a stout 252 lb.-ft. of torque at 5,200 rpm. It’s available optionally on the LX and EX, while residing as standard equipment in the LX V6, EX V6, SX and SX Limited.  Power is routed to either the front wheels or, optionally, to all four using an enhanced Torque On Demand all-wheel drive system that seamlessly directs power to the tire with the most traction and now includes the benefit of Torque Vectoring Cornering Control (TVCC) that aids stability under certain driving conditions.

The 2.4-liter GDI four-cylinder engine returns, now as standard equipment in the LX and EX, and replaces the previously-standard 2.4-liter MPI 4-cylinder.  With 191 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 181 lb.-ft. of torque on-hand at a low 4,250 rpm, the lightweight all-aluminum powerplant is efficient while still providing enough grunt to perform yeoman’s duty day in and day out.

Regardless of engine or driveline choice, the Sorento comes standard with a smooth shifting six-speed automatic transmission. Also standard in the new 2014 Sorento, Electric Motor Driven Power Steering replaces the hydraulic unit from the 2013 model, which improves steering feel and reduces weight to aid efficiency.  New available FlexSteer offers drivers a choice of three steering modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport.

Just three years into its product lifecycle, Kia’s engineers saw fit to bring the new 2014 Sorento to market on an all-new chassis that increases torsional rigidity by 18-percent.  A major focal point in designing the new chassis was to improve ride and handling. Within the engine bay, a strut-tower brace increases chassis stiffness and provides a solid platform for the new independent front suspension that incorporates a stiffer H-shaped sub-frame cradle which offers improved vehicle tracking.  Around back, a reinforced multi-link setup utilizes new bushings and mounts to better isolate road noise vibration, while its compact design allows for more interior space.

Sophisticated Design, Inside and Out

In a segment more often known for bland utility, the new 2014 Sorento sports dynamic and sophisticated design elements, inside and out.  Redesigned front and rear fascias enhance the Sorento’s road presence with a lower, broader appearance up front and a visually wider stance at the rear.  The ubiquitous Kia tiger-nose grille is enhanced with an anodized silver metal or black mesh appearance and the lower valance has been opened to expose an aggressive cross-hatched maw. Front LED positioning lamps create dramatic eyebrows while projector style headlights peer from behind tapered clear lenses. Available fog lights on all trim models have been upended and pushed to the far corners of the front bumper for better forward and side visibility.  Horizontally positioned rear LED combination lamps embrace the turn signal and back-up lights, emitting a warm corona that makes the 2014 Sorento instantly recognizable from behind.  The new Sorento rides on redesigned 17-, 18- and, a first for Kia’s best-selling CUV, larger 19-inch wheels.

To step inside the new 2014 Sorento is to experience a new level of sophisticated elegance. A redesigned instrument panel deftly combines technology with proven ergonomics. On EX trims and above, the large center gauge cluster features a 7-inch TFT LCD that projects a digital speedometer flanked by easy-to-read analog instruments for the tachometer, fuel level and engine temp. The TFT LCD readout also displays trip and vehicle information, along with navigation updates (optional). The center stack’s appearance and layout has been modernized and button positions have been rearranged for a more user-friendly experience.  The new design also provides room for Kia’s new larger touch screen.  Diagonally spanning eight inches, the optional screen integrates navigation, SiriusXM Traffic™3 with real-time road information updates, a premium Infinity®4 audio system, SiruisXM™ Satellite Radio5, Bluetooth® hands-free connectivity6, vehicle settings and UVO eServices, Kia’s next generation of infotainment and telematics.  Other new available features in the 2014 Sorento include Kia’s first-ever programmable power liftgate, a redesigned panoramic sunroof with a one piece power-operated shade, integrated 2nd row sliding sunshades, available dual ventilated air-cooled front seats, a 115-volt power inverter, and illuminated door handle pockets.

Using advanced sonar sensors, the 2014 Sorento is also the first of many Kia vehicles to begin offering a blind spot detection system. The system continually monitors traffic around the Sorento and if another vehicle is detected within a set distance, audio and visual elements alert the driver to the issue.

Advancing Value to New Levels of Sophistication: Sorento SX Limited

Shortly after the arrival of the new 2014 Sorento, the Sorento SX Limited is destined for market within the second quarter of 2013.  With the success of the Optima SX Limited launched earlier this year, offering a similar appearance package on the Sorento was a logical follow-up.

Offered only in Ebony Black, Snow White Pearl and Titanium Silver, the SX Limited is set apart visually from the Sorento SX by unique self-leveling Xenon HID head lights, exclusive 19-inch chrome wheels and sporty red painted brake calipers. Exclusive SXL badges adorn the exterior to complete the look.

Inside, unique and luxurious Nappa leather trimmed seats, a wood-trimmed, heated steering wheel, and heated rear seats are all standard. The exclusive soft-touch head liner and pillar accents make the Sorento SX Limited an inviting respite from the stress and strain of urban existence. 



The all-new Forte offers spirited performance thanks to two advanced four-cylinder engines.  The LX features a 1.8-liter powerplant, while the EX comes standard with a 2.0-liter engine.  Both engines feature dual continuously variable valve timing and a lightweight intake manifold that reduces weight by 30 percent over a cast unit.  The aluminum “bed plate” located below the cylinder block reduces engine NVH levels and improves block rigidity by 30 percent.

With 148 horsepower available at 6,500 rpm and 131 lb.-ft. of torque on tap at 4,700 rpm, the 1.8-liter MPI inline four-cylinder engine found in the LX routes power to the front wheels through either a standard six speed manual transmission or an optional six speed automatic gearbox.

Forte EX enhances the driving experience with a 173-horsepower (at 6,500 rpm) 2.0-liter inline four cylinder GDI engine.  With a robust 154 lb.-ft. of torque available at 4,700 rpm, the EX comes standard with a six speed automatic.

The all-new Forte rides on a chassis that is longer (by 1.2 inches), lower (0.6 inches) and wider (0.2 inches) than the previous Forte sedan.  With its 106.3-inch wheelbase, two inches longer than the outgoing model, the all-new Forte rides on a McPherson strut front suspension and a coupled torsion beam rear axle.  On-center steering feel is improved utilizing larger bushings and revised front suspension geometry.  Electric power steering has replaced the hydraulic system from the previous Forte, reducing parasitic load. Optional Flex Steer puts the driver firmly in control with settings for Comfort, Normal and Sport, which vary steering effort at the touch of a steering wheel-mounted button.

The base LX manual rides on 195/65R-15 tires, while 205/55R-16 tires on 16-inch alloy wheels are optional.  The top-of-the-line EX is shod with the same 55-series tires. Low-profile 215/45-17 tires mounted on sporty 17-inch alloy wheels are optional.

Dramatically swept headlight lenses cut deeply into the front fenders and incorporate projector headlamps.  LED positioning lights create distinct eyebrows, making the Forte instantly recognizable in a crowd.  Gentle sculpting along the Forte’s lower flanks taper the sheet metal inward, affording the car a taut, nimble appearance without diminishing its road presence.  Around back, the up-kicked fender line and trunk design, with its deep horizontal crease, lend width and charisma while allowing the complex curves of the tail lights to flow over the rear haunches.





Front and rear LED's look sharp





Opening the wide doors reveals a cabin sculpted in organic curves.  Gentle ripples across the instrument panel convey serenity, as if small waves are radiating from a pebble dropped into a pond. The driver-centric cabin is canted 10 degrees and features high-quality materials and soft touch points.  Large, easy-to-read instruments dominate the binnacle, and secondary controls fall easily to hand.  The optional 4.2-inch color LCD screen nestled between the white-on-black gauges in the EX provides trip and ancillary vehicle information front and center to the driver.  Tasteful chrome bezels ring the HVAC rotary knobs and the optional push-button start.  Additional chrome accents, standard Bluetooth® hands free phone integration and power windows, mirrors and door locks enhance the all-new Forte’s premium feel.  Optional leather seating trim, power sunroof, and dual-zone automatic climate control with rear seat vents and HID head lights take the Forte to new levels of sophistication.

Auto Spies verdict: (these were PRE-production vehicles so some of our criticisms could be fixed by launch)

The Good:


A definite improvement from the last generation with it's gorgeous face and vertical integrated LED's
More space in the cabin than Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Chevy Equinox, Escape, Tiguan.
More comfortable long hauler than the competition.
Laptop screen center gauges resembling more premium vehicles.
Better warrany (5 years/60,000 miles).

The NOT so good:

Not born for the twisties...it's still a floater but so are all its competitors. But that won't stop ANY of their potential customers from buying a Sorento or loving it once they own it.
Projected real world city mileage based on my driving will be under 20MPG. For a 2014 model year crossover, it should be better.
UVO voice recognition failed on even the simplest tasks I gave it. I hope this is fixed by the official launch but you should be able to choose a radio station successfully after 6 tries.
Front driver seat had a weird feeling lump under my right leg in two of the units I sat in. KIA reps told me that is pre-production issue and will be fixed.

Conclusion

KIA is at the beginning of many new car launches for 2013 and they keep improving with each iteration we drive. And with cars like the Optima they exceeded our expections. The problem with that is that we now expect that same type of revolution and raising of the bar with every new product they show us. It's like how people feel with Apple. Evolution doesn't excite them, only revolution does. So we are spoiled. The Sorento is not as ground breaking as Optima nor does it totally change the game in this space but it will be a good seller for them. And if it was between the CR-V, RAV4, Tiguan and Equinox we would choose the KIA. But for my money I would be driving home the new Ford Escape. The Ford is better looking ESPECIALLY inside, it is the driver of all these vehicles, is more comfortable and SYNC still trumps all the other telematics offerings. We'd give up the space you lose in the Ford for the more European drive feel it rewards you with plus the gas mileage on the Eco-Boost engines is WAY better.

More photos and cool shots of the sights we saw...



























Finally KIA held the event in Scottsdale at the W Hotel and did a great job, not only with the rides but great food and drink.

We always like to include photos from the events and location as well as the drive because a true Auto Spy loves the finest things in life as well as cars. So check out all the photos in the gallery.











I was especially impressed getting to visit the AZ-TEX Hat Company in old town. They are an institution and have made hats for multiple celebrities including former President's like Ronald Reagan and his family. They make them on site!

The owner Heather Harding and her staff were kind enough to show us around and I must say I look rather dapper in one of their fine examples don't you think? You can own one for a cool $900.00. Yes, they're THAT good.







We love being able to show off great American businesses and this one is a gem. If you're ever there, don't miss it.

Other cool places to check out????

Saddle Ranch to ride the mechanical bull...



Gilligans to see the only 'midget' bar in the USA. No, we could care less to find out if the claim is even true but thanks to our friends at AutoBlog for tipping us off on this one. I'm afraid to ask how they knew so much about it...



And the one restaurant I didn't get to try but I will for sure because it's definitely '001' style is Modern Steak. If you end up there be sure to ask for Robert Davis and let him know you heard about them on AutoSpies.com.





Arizona is also known for the beautiful colors of nature and wonderful artists...







Full 2014 KIA Sorento and Forte launch photo gallery

*AutoSpies.com were guests of Kia and airfare, lodging and meals were provided in order to facilitate this review.


ROAD TESTED: KIA Goes Directly Into The Eye Of The Crossover Storm With The 2014 Sorento

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