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Are there too many options in the midsize SUV market? Maybe. The Kia Sorento manages to stand out from the competition, however. This has been the case for a while now. Considering the fact that it launches a brand new generation for 2021, it is reasonable to believe that the Sorento will remain near the top of the pack for quite some time.
With a longer wheelbase, there is plenty of interior space inside the SUV. The 2021 Kia Sorento is also available with four different powertrains this year, including both a standard hybrid and a plug-in hybrid. The plug-in hybrid variation is expected to have late availability. As before, this Kia vehicle offers you excellent value as a result of its relatively low starting price and a long list of standard equipment.
Kia gives you five different trim options to look at when choosing a new 2021 Sorento. Many of these trims are available with all-wheel drive. All of them give you a respectable number of advanced driver aids. Throw in the fact that this smaller SUV has three rows, and you find yourself with an appealing family vehicle, no matter which trim you choose.
Still, no one wants to overspend, which is why researching the options is important. You can use the following guide to determine which of the trim levels has everything you need and potentially save yourself some money.
Compare the 2021 Kia Sorento LX vs Sorento S - What is the Difference?
The LX is one of two trims that come standard with a 2.5L four-cylinder engine that makes 191-horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque. It comes with stop/start technology in order to improve fuel economy estimates. Paired with this adequate engine is an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive can be had on even this entry-level trim.
You can tell the LX apart from the rest of the lineup by some of its exterior accents. This is the only model to have matte black for the skid plates, rear spoiler, and front grille, for example. The satin chrome window surrounds are also unique to this trim level. A few upscale touches are found on the Sorento LX, including turn signal integration in the side mirrors, as well as multi-reflector LED headlights. The entry-level model sits on 17-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, the LX has seating for seven. The fact that this is the entry-level model is more apparent when looking at the seating, which features cloth trim. The driver seat gets a six-way adjustment, but it is manual. As for the front passenger, they only get four-way manual adjustment. The kids can relax on long rides in the back, thanks to the third row's reclining seats.
Technology features are definitely impressive, with the LX coming standard with an 8-inch touchscreen. The smartphone integration tools known as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also included. Better still, they are the wireless versions that are becoming more popular.
Forward-collision avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, and lane-keeping assist are all standard. The driver attention monitoring feature includes a leading vehicle depart alert, which can help you avoid getting honked at when the light turns green. High beam assist is standard, along with a rear occupant alert to make sure no one gets left behind.
The S trim level is the second one that utilizes the standard 2.5L powertrain. This model does get an upgrade underneath it, however, with the wheel size jumping up to 18-inches. All of the matte black pieces from the LX trim get swapped out for gloss black for the S, which also gets black window surrounds. Low profile roof rails in gloss black are also added.
It is also worth noting that the S is one of the two trims available as a hybrid. It utilizes a turbo 1.6L four-cylinder engine and electric motor to produce 227-horsepower. Models with this powertrain are equipped very similarly to the standard S but are only available with front-wheel drive.
For its interior, the S trim adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The front seats are significantly upgraded, with both of them gaining heat. For the driver, the S gets 10-way power adjustment, although the passenger is stuck with the four-way manual setup. Dual-zone automatic climate control, along with a remote start system, is also included.
The S trim gets extra charging USB ports for the second row, bringing its total up from one to three. Satellite radio is included on this level and up of the 2021 Sorento. Also thrown in here is the UVO link remote connectivity, which gives you access to remote features, vehicle information, access to emergency services, and more. You will need to download the app on a compatible smartphone in order to take advantage of what the UVO feature has to offer. A basic package of features comes free for five years, but more advanced packages come with an out-of-pocket charge.
Kia adds several advanced driver aids to the Sorento S. This is where you find blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, along with rear parking sensors. Safe exit assist, which will not allow the back doors to open if a vehicle approaching from behind is detected, is included as well.
Stepping up to the S from the LX is not terribly expensive and comes with several significant upgrades. Those who are willing to spend a little more will find the S is worth it.
Compare the 2021 Kia Sorento S vs Sorento EX - What is the Difference?
Like the S, the EX is available with the hybrid powertrain. Unlike the S, however, the EX has a turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder engine standard. This will make the Sorento 281-horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. The transmission gets a slight upgrade here as well, with the EX using an eight-speed dual-clutch option. As long as you choose the gas powertrain instead of the hybrid, the EX is available with all-wheel drive.
On the outside, it is hard to tell the S and EX apart. The EX does gain some practical features, such as a power liftgate. It also gets LED fog lights. Inside, the open-pore wood graphics give this trim an upscale feeling. A wireless device charger is added, and the second-row bench seat gets swapped out for two captain's chairs, reducing the seating capacity to six.
The EX trim adds a cyclist detection feature to its forward-collision avoidance-assist. It also gets smart cruise control with the stop and go feature. This trim level costs approximately $3,000 more than the S, but also comes with a significantly more sophisticated look and feel inside.
Compare the 2021 Kia Sorento EX vs Sorento SX - What is the Difference?
Underneath the hood of the SX is the turbo 2.5L four-cylinder, and there is no hybrid option. This model rides on 20-inch alloy wheels with a gloss black finish. The SX is the first option to give you LED taillights to go along with the LED headlights.
The SX sets itself apart from the trims that came before it with metal interior accents. You get actual chrome door handles rather than just metal painted ones. LED interior lighting also ups the luxury level for this model. The front passenger finally gets some consideration here, gaining eight-way power-adjustment for their seat. While other models had a power sunroof available, the SX comes with one standard.
A few handy tech upgrades are made for the SX, including voice recognition. You also get advanced Bluetooth hands-free streaming and phone functions. While that might not seem impressive, the Sorento SX has multi-device audio streaming capability. It also upgrades to a 10.25-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system.
The price gap between trim levels remains fairly consistent, with the SX costing three grand more than the EX. This is an upgrade that is not strictly necessary but may appeal to those who are after an affordable yet luxurious SUV.
Compare the 2021 Kia Sorento SX vs Sorento SX Prestige Trim. - What is the Difference?
Those after the ultimate 2021 Kia Sorento will be looking at the SX Prestige. Although it is mechanically the same, it gains fun paddle shifters for a sportier experience at the wheel. The exterior looks very similar to the standard SX, with the only notable difference being power-folding side mirrors.
Unlike the SX, however, the SX Prestige is available with the X-Line package. Adding this will mean getting all-wheel drive standard, along with increased ground clearance. Both the approach and departure angles are improved as well, making this version of the Sorento the most off-road ready by far. The X-Line package also adds several gray exterior accents, including on the wheels and roof rails.
The Prestige SX gains impressive interior upgrades inside, whether or not you add the X-Line package. The audio system is from Bose and features 12-speakers, which is double what the rest of the lineup has. Rather than a typical trip computer display, it gets a 12.3-inch LCD cluster display.
There are a few other small but nice touches found in the cabin of this top trim. While power windows with the one-touch up and down feature for the driver's window have been standard on all models, the SX Prestige adds this for the front passenger as well. This trim level also gets an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The front seats are ventilated on top of heated, and trimmed in genuine leather as well. With its heated steering wheel, the SX Prestige is the perfect choice for those who always have cold hands. While metal interior accents remain the standard, this model has the option of going with the open-pore wood found inside the EX model.
Perhaps the most convincing reason to choose the SX Prestige is its standard safety features. This model has front and rear parking sensors, along with a surround-view camera system. Parking-collision avoidance assist is also included, making it easy for nearly anyone to park nearly anywhere. The SX Prestige also gets a blind-view monitor, which displays what is in your blind-spots on the infotainment screen for added lane-changing confidence.
With a starting price that is just under $3,000 more than the SX, the SX Prestige is tempting with all of its high-tech additions. That said, it costs over ten grand more than the entry-level model, something that those looking for a more affordable option should keep in mind.
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Which Trim to Choose?
While the entry-level LX is certainly not a bad choice, drivers will want to upgrade to the S trim. For not much extra, it has everything from heated seats to push-button start. Blind-spot monitoring and rear parking sensors also add to the appeal of the S trim, which also has the fact that it is available with the hybrid powertrain going for it.
The EX trim adds a decent amount of luxury without driving the price up too much. If you are someone who is after a little more power, this is the most affordable option for you. Otherwise, the features are not likely worth paying extra.
Both the SX and SX Prestige are tempting. This is particularly true of the SX Prestige and its extra tech and safety features. Not everyone will have the ability or the desire to pay for these upgrades, however.
The 2021 Kia Sorento S hits the sweet spot between affordability and features, making it the right choice for most buyers.
• Compare the 2020 Kia Sorento Trim Levels