New vs. Used: Kia Sorento

The Kia Sorento packs plenty of value into a mid-size SUV with third-row seating. If the Kia Sorento is on your list, check out our breakdown of the new vs. used Kia Sorento. 

Kia’s Third-Row Champion |  Shop Kia Sorento on

To some, the Kia Sorento is the ultimate family vehicle. Its mid-size SUV stature means that it won’t feel like driving a house down the road. At the same time, it provides plenty of room for all family members by offering third-row seating. It does all of this while looking stylish and being affordable too! Imagine it as a spunky little brother to the Kia Telluride.

Let’s face it: there aren’t many mid-size SUVs with a third row. Even the Kia Sorento is one of the smaller options on the market. But families with several small children (or a couple of small children and their friends) will find it fits them perfectly. When the kids aren’t on board, the extra cargo space can be utilized for whatever needs pop up.

Another attractive feature of the Kia Sorento is its powertrain choices. There are two gasoline-only options – a base-model four-cylinder and a turbocharged four-cylinder. There is also a hybrid and plug-in hybrid option for those who want to save at the pump.

There aren’t any major changes to the 2023 Kia Sorento other than blind-spot monitoring is now standard across the large lineup.

So, is it better to buy a new Sorento or grab a used one from 2021? Let’s take a look at the specs to find out!


2023 Kia Sorento 1.6L I4 -
2023 Kia Sorento 1.6L I4 -

The 2023 Kia Sorento comes in an overwhelming number of trims with four powertrain options. The first is a non-turbo 2.5L four-cylinder that puts out 191 horsepower and 182 lb.-ft. of torque. The turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder bumps the power up to 281 horsepower and 311 lb.-ft. of torque. Both of these are paired up with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The hybrid powertrain options consist of a 1.6L four-cylinder gas engine and an electric motor that work together to produce 227 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. The SX-Prestige is the only trim available with the plug-in hybrid engine, and it produces 261 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Both are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

The base 1.6L engine is rated at 24 MPG city/29 MPG highway while the turbocharged version is rated at 22 MPG city/29 MPG highway. The most fuel-efficient is the 1.6L hybrid with ratings of 39 MPG city/35 MPG highway. The plug-in hybrid version nets 35 MPG city/33 MPG highway and can travel up to 32 miles on electricity alone.

2021 Kia Sorento 2.5L I4 -
2021 Kia Sorento 2.5L I4 -

The used 2021 Kia Sorento can be found with the exact same numbers across the board. There isn’t much difference in the powertrains and horsepower.

Driving and Performance 

2023 Kia Sorento -
2023 Kia Sorento -

The turbocharged 2.5L is quick and brings the small SUV from 0-60 MPH in only 6.7 seconds. The handling is car-like and it is nimble in the turns. It needs to have a little more accuracy in the steering, but overall, we were impressed with the handling.

Bringing the Sorento to a stop was equally as impressive. It stopped from 60 MPH in just 121 feet which is above-average for its class.

The overall ride quality of the Sorento is comfortable, but we did notice some jitters at lower speeds. Those equipped with 20-inch wheels and low-profile tires will experience more road noise at highway speeds. It is much more comfortable than others in its class.

2021 Kia Sorento -
2021 Kia Sorento -

The 2021 Kia Sorento is just as good in terms of handling and performance. It was the first of the newer generation of Sorentos so there haven’t been a lot of changes.

When equipped with the turbocharged 2.5L engine, the Kia Sorento can tow up to 3,500 lbs.

Comfort and Interior 

2023 Kia Sorento -
2023 Kia Sorento -

We’re still neck and neck between our used and new Kia Sorentos, and that doesn’t change very much as we look at the interior. Both models feature an interior full of quality plastics and materials, and they are both built solidly. The controls are located at a comfortable distance from the driver and are easy to operate.

The infotainment system of both models consists of a standard 10.3-inch touchscreen that is quick to respond and user-friendly. An attractive 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. You get complete smartphone connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities.

2021 Kia Sorento -
2021 Kia Sorento -

There are plenty of cubbies and cupholders on the console, and ambient lighting is abundant around the cabin. The third-row seats aren’t very comfortable for adult passengers because they are located close to the floor, but kids will have no trouble with them. The second-row bend seat can also be swapped for a pair of captain’s chairs.

Since both the new 2023 and the used 2021 Kia Sorentos are on the same platform, the cargo space remains the same for both models. Drivers get 12.6 cubic feet behind the third row, 38.5 cubic feet behind the second row, and 75.5 cubic feet with all back seats folded down.

Trims and Feature 

2023 Kia Sorento S -
2023 Kia Sorento S -

The 2023 Kia Sorento comes in five trim levels: LX, S, EX, SX, and SX Prestige.

The LX is the base trim, and it comes with features such as the 2.5L four-cylinder engine and eight-speed automatic transmission, LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, a six speaker sound system, second-row 60/40 split-folding bench seat, third-row 50/50 split-folding seats, an 8.0-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning and mitigation, rear automatic braking, and lane-keeping assist.

The S trim adds roof rails, synthetic upholstery, heated front seats, power-adjustable driver’s seat, leather wrapped steering wheel, 18-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, pushbutton start, navigation, rear parking sensors, wireless charging pad, and a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen. Add on the X-Line S package for AWD, raised roof rails, and upgraded exterior appointments.

2023 Kia Sorento SX -
2023 Kia Sorento SX -

The EX trim adds on even more to the S trim such as a turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder and eight-speed automatic transmission, second-row captain’s chairs, adaptive cruise controls, a hands-free liftgate, enhanced forward collision mitigation, power-adjustable front passenger seat, and lane-centering. An X-Line EX package gives you all features from the X-Line S plus a panoramic sunroof and 20-inch wheels.

The SX trim gives you everything in the EX trim plus a panoramic sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, 20-inch wheels, and a digital instrument panel.

The SX Prestige trim adds on the SX trim by giving you AWD, leather seats, heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, rear window sunshades, 115-volt household-style outlet, front parking sensors, an upgraded 12-speaker Bose sound system, 360-degree camera, and a blind-spot camera.

2021 Kia Sorento SX Prestige X-Line -
2021 Kia Sorento SX Prestige X-Line -

The 2021 Kia Sorento saw the same features with the exception of blind-spot monitoring on the LX trim. There was also an SX Prestige X-Line that was an AWD version of the SX Prestige with different bumpers, passenger seat lumbar adjustment, and dark silver exterior trim.

The Verdict 

2023 Kia Sorento -

2023 Kia Sorento – |  Shop Kia Sorento on

If you’re planning on buying a Kia Sorento, you should go for a new model. The savings are minimal since they are essentially the same vehicle. Sure, you might save a couple of grand upfront, but you could get a brand-new model with a full warranty (one of the best in the industry) with less mileage.

If you go older than 2021, then you’ll be in the previous generation which will cause you to give up a lot of features such as added legroom for passengers. At that point, you’re moving backward. While Sorentos have always been a great value, the fact is that the newer Sorentos give you even more value. I would only recommend going to an older generation if your budget demands it.

Otherwise, a brand new Kia Sorento is a great bargain because it packs a ton of features into a comfortably-priced mid-size SUV that is designed for growing families.

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D.L. Shepherd

D.L. Shepherd’s love of anything with an engine and everything that goes fast was kickstarted as a child who spent time at the local dragstrip and dirt track. At Bluefield University, D.L. explored creative writing with published pieces in the university's literary journal. He then worked as a Sales Rep. for Harley-Davidson and as an electronic technician. Now, he's using his expertise as an author. With an endless interest in learning about new cars and analyzing all of their specs, D.L. specializes in vehicle reviews of all kinds.

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