For 2014, the Kia Sorento got a number of well needed updates. We’ve tested the previous Sorento before and it always fell mid-pack in terms of style, value, and driving charisma. The new 2014 gets help in all three categories.

Styling is mildly enhanced with new front and rear fascias, and new headlamps with LED enhancements. Tail lights get LED as well. Our SX trim grade has handsome body color wheel arch trim and 19” alloy wheels for a bold buttoned down look.

Inside, the dash and door panels got new finesse in trims and appliques that give a more sculpted and fine sorted look. The instrument cluster now has an LED TFT screen center gauge which gives more information, and the center stack gets all new controls.

Like the Kia Cadenza we tested last month, the touch screen and center stack controls provide a very user friendly experience for controlling all manner of audio, HVAC and vehicle settings. It not only looks good but works very well.

Our tester had the large panoramic sunroof which is always a nice touch to open up the cabin. The leather seats and soft touch trims around all have a look of quality. Gaps between pieces, fit and finish and overall execution are notable better than the 2013 models.

Handling is enhanced by a number of chassis improvements that go a long way to making the structure more solid. While not an all-new platform, the changes that have been made show that a few well placed engineering solutions can go a long way.

The new 3.3 liter direct-injected V6 provides ample power through the smooth shifting 6-speed transmission. It’s a significant improvement in both power and smoothness over the previous 3.5 liter V6.

It was a bit thirstier than the 2013 model we tested with a V6 however. The EPA rates the 2014 Sorento V6 at 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined. Our observed fuel economy for the week of our testing was about 20 mpg.

Off-road, the chassis changes for 2014 really come alive. Of all the uni-body crossover vehicles we have tested this year, the Sorento is the most polished out on these rough and loose surfaces. The body structure is solid and quiet in a way few competitors are.

The stability control is well tuned for loose surfaces, stepping in to catch under-steer and over-steer nicely. Suspension travel is still a little thin for rough roading, with some bumps crashing through if you are rolling at them too fast.

The power steering for 2014 is driver adjustable with settings of “Comfort, Normal and Sport”. We played with the settings and they offer up a true difference in power assist, from an easy light feel to a more sporting heavy feel that I preferred out here in the wild.

And as I already said, if you option the V6 also get all-wheel drive. On gravel and dirt, traction is hampered by the combination of high torque and only front-wheel drive. The wheels spin easily, then traction control steps in and cuts power. Thus there are no quick take-offs with front-wheel drive.

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