Seemingly the same vehicle under the skin, the 2024 Kia Sorento and 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe take radically different approaches to the midsize SUV class. That’s a good thing, as there are now two distinctly different SUV variants to be found from comparable automakers: the Santa Fe has banked on the Jeep/Land-Rover-style two-box blocky SUV, while the Sorento has reserved more for urban look of a crossover station wagon. The Sorento’s restyling also keeps it much more in line with the rest of Kia’s showroom, whereas at Hyundai the mandate seems to be to make all models look like they come from different brands.
Both approaches are new and commendable, but the Sorento could do a little better to keep previous buyers interested in this latest model, while the Santa Fe seems to be looking for someone entirely new. I got to take a closer look at the 2024 Sorento at the 2023 Los Angeles Auto Show.
Connected: More coverage of the 2023 Los Angeles Auto Show
Swoops and Strakes
If you think the new Sorento looks like a baby Kia Telluride, well, it does. There’s a lot of family resemblance in front and rear styling, and that’s not a bad thing; Kia’s latest design language is distinctive without being weird, and we appreciate that. The front three-quarter view is the most successful, with the big, bold grille flanked by light-blade-style headlights that are almost reminiscent of Cadillac’s design language.
The only downside to the Sorento’s styling is that odd little chrome shark fin on the C-pillar, a strange little malignancy rising from the chrome beltline that looks completely affected and out of place. There’s no reason for it, and it disrupts the flow of the tape in the most unpleasant of ways. At least on the X-Pro off-road oriented trim, it’s black and blends in with the greenhouse pillar trim. But yeah, not sure how it made it past design reviews.
Beautiful as always on the inside
Inside the 2024 Sorento, Kia continues its efforts to absolutely embarrass its competitors with an interior featuring materials and build quality that could easily be included among near-luxury brands. It looks fantastic inside, especially in the highest trim levels, with the model at the Los Angeles show featuring a blue upholstered interior that looked and felt amazing.
It doesn’t fall even when you move to the back seat. The doors, seats and controls are just as nice and high quality as the front seat accommodations. It’s not something you typically find in competing vehicles, but it’s something Kia is increasingly ensuring as it continues its efforts to increase brand recognition and value. Keep doing interiors like this and customers will be more and more influenced by these efforts.
Off-road if you just have to
New to the range is an off-road-oriented X-Pro trim level, but make no mistake, these really aren’t off-road vehicles as most off-road enthusiasts would appreciate them. The X-Line returns with four-wheel drive, a locking center differential, torque vectoring and slightly beefier styling; choose the X-Pro and you get fatter off-road tires on smaller wheels.
But these are much more just styling packages than true off-road preparation packages. They might take you to a campsite on a dirt road, but taking them on any kind of two-track trail would piss me off. Still, you can’t have an SUV these days without including some sort of off-road package, so here goes the Sorento. Personally, I’d stick with more on-road comfort and luxury trims for the Sorento, leaving the off-road for something more suitable.
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