2014 Kia Sorento

The Kia Sorento will get more than 80 percent new parts for model year 2014, including a new chassis and a new top-end 290-horsepower engine. New models seem to be arriving earlier than ever these days; the 2014 Sorento is expected to go on sale in about a month.

With outstanding vehicles like the Sorento CUV, Kia is riding a wave of success in the past few years, highlighted by a record-setting 2012. Kia sold more 557,599 vehicles last year, an increase of 14.9 percent over sales in 2011, company officials said at the launch of the 2014 Sorento. Kia also sold its 4 millionth vehicle in the U.S. last year, the company said.

Kia’s success can be attributed to its products. The company’s slick hip hamster commercials haven’t hurt, but at the end of the day it’s the performance of the vehicle that counts. What also hasn’t hurt is that Kia hired Peter Schreyer as chief designer of Kia vehicles. People – me included – are huge fans of Schreyer’s designs. In fact, his sleek, stylish designs have been a critical component in the revitalization of the company.

Another reason for Kia’s success is that each vehicle launched since the Kia Soul in 2009 has been named a “Top Safety Pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

“Safety is a priority for us as a company,” Kia Executive Vice President for Sales Tom Loveless said. “Has been. Will be.”

Kia plans seven all-new or significantly redesigned vehicles scheduled to arrive in showrooms during 2013. The 2014 Sorento was introduced in late January in Scottsdale, Ariz., along with the all-new 2014 Kia Forte.

In addition to the new chassis and engine, the Sorento receives a new top-end trim level for 2014 – the SX Limited – and a blind spot detection system. The new optional engine for 2014 is a 3.3-liter V6 that kicks out 290 horsepower and 252 lb.-ft. of torque. The standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine returns, delivering 191 horses and 181 lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission is a 6-speed automatic, and AWD is available.

During a half-day test drive of the Sorento, we also tried out Kia’s new FlexSteer system, where a button on the steering wheel allows the driver to select from comfort, normal or sport settings in the electric power steering system. The Sorento’s ride was firm and comfortable, and the vehicle was stable in hard braking and cornering.

Inside the vehicle, the cabin has intuitive controls and gauges, including a large optional navigation screen at the top of the center stack. The screen integrates SiriusXM satellite radio with traffic, a premium Infinity audio system, Bluetooth, and UVO, which is Kia’s voice-activated telematics system.

Pricing for the 2014 Kia Sorento starts at $24,100 for the LX FWD with the 2.4-liter engine and goes up to $39,700 for the Limited AWD with the new 3.3-liter V6. The Sorento is assembled at Kia’s billion-dollar plant in Georgia, where more than 40 percent of Kia’s volume is produced, including the Sorento and Optima.

There’s no doubt that Kia’s been on a roll in the past few years. And with more vehicle launches in the pipeline, the company looks to keep it going.

First impressions indicate the Sorento will help keep sales rolling along.

2014 Kia Sorento

Engine:

2.4-liter 4-cylinder,

optional new 3.3-liter V6

Transmission:

6-speed automatic

Horsepower:

191 (4-cylinder), 290 (V6)

Price:

$24,100 (Base LX FWD),

$39,700 (Limited AWD)

EPA mileage rating:

20 mpg city / 26 mpg highway

(FWD 4-cylinder)

18 mpg city / 25 mpg highway

(FWD V6)