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2023: Kia Sorento vs. Sportage

1. Introduction

We have taken it upon ourselves to do a comprehensive car research project featuring two vehicles we consider popular vehicles in their respective classes. The 2023 Kia Sorento and Sportage, which are both sports utility vehicles (SUVs) manufactured by Kia Motors. We chose the Sorento and Sportage primarily because they are both vehicles that are easy on the eyes while also offering great safety features and boast an economic 24 mpg (miles per gallon) on the highway. At the end of the research, we hope to give an inside look for potential car buyers who have a tough time choosing between two vehicles they feel would both be a good fit for them and their needs. We will research and compare many aspects of these two vehicles such as safety, performance, and reliability so in the end, the potential buyer will have a better understanding of what vehicle fits them best. [1][2][3][4][5]

2. Exterior Design

Judging from both vehicles, there's no doubt that Sorento takes the win for its unique and more dynamic styling. The headlights and the front fascia simply look bolder and more futuristic compared to Sportage. A realization of the "Refined Boldness" brand concept. Although Sportage's design looks sleek and modern, it does not offer the "Wow" factor that its bigger brother Sorento has. [6][7][1][8][9][10]

Sportage, on the other hand, is a vehicle that embraces the elegance of simplicity. Small improvements are made in terms of its physical size and shape compared to the previous models. It is only a minor size increase, and it shows in the spacious interior and cargo room. From the exterior, Sportage adopts a dynamic and emphatic stance, with the lower fascia integrated into the grille surround for a more streamlined appearance. The front grille's unmistakable waffled texture adds a touch of elegance to the face of the vehicle. The clean and modern lines of the headlights and LED indicators are neatly positioned within the substantial round projector headlamps.

Sorento is built with Kia's automobile brand concept 'Refined Boldness'. It is adopting an advanced style that is sportier and more athletic compared to its predecessor. The front styling of Sorento is characterized by dynamic and sophisticated design. It is equipped with a unique radiator grille design, with a reverse-trapezoidal shape that is larger at the top. The headlights are designed using cutting-edge technology with a four-point LED positioning light, which not only provides a unique appearance but also enables it to be easily recognizable from a distance.

2.1. Sorento's exterior features

The 2023 Kia Sorento looks extremely modern and high class. It has two moonroofs, one over the front seats and another over the second seats. These give the Sorento a sort of "Grounded plane" look. This moonroof could actually be made standard in the near future as a panoramic moonroof. This feature is seen on other high-end vehicles such as the Volvo XC90. The Kia Sorento has standard 17-inch alloy wheels. It also has a feature which allows you to lower the Sorento from the trunk when parked. This can be done if you have the car raised to load/unload grocery bags. Then when you return from shopping, you can lower the car to make it easier to put items in the trunk. I have never seen this feature to be useful. The cost is standard and starts at 20k for the base model. The price is much higher compared to previous model years where the base price was around 18k. Due to the high-end look of the car, I believe more people would buy the top-of-the-line Sorento models which are around 32k. This vehicle is offered in various colors. However, the higher-end models seem to have the best color options (categories 3,4) (capsule 6). This is simply due to the fact that higher-end models include advanced cleaning technologies and thus painting the car to match the cleaning technology. Kia has already been known to sell the SX model in limited quantities. If you want a specific model or color, act fast because it may be gone. In the 2012 model year, there was a limited titanium edition that only came in silver with specific titanium badging with blacked-out rims. This model was also sold in limited quantities. This could be a good buy for people who tend to collect cars or for a Kia dealer to put on display.

2.2. Sportage's exterior features

The side view of the car also feels longer because of the increase in the wheelbase, sloping down carefully toward the end of the body. The newly designed 19-inch alloy wheels with machine-cut two-tone produce a further stunning effect on the car. All these designs from the front to the side profile make the new Sportage look tough like an SUV. The new Sportage has 8 different exterior colors, and each color has a different expression of itself through the design. The new colors, shades, and specially calculated clearances have made it possible to produce different fresh and graceful images despite the same design.

Front styling of the car has diffused LED headlamps with ring-style DRLs (Daytime Running Lights) on them. A protective guard with a silver skid plate and air curtains on it are to enhance its tough look. The complementary narrow radiator grille and the long hood on top of it make the car feel longer and wider. All these design parts of the new Sportage represent a bold and masculine figure compared to the previous Sportage.

3. Interior Features

The 2023 Sorento is the first vehicle to be built at Kia's state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in West Point, Georgia. Its premium and more sophisticated design and feel is achieved through features like: available leather seating surfaces, push button start, Isofix child seat attachments, second row integrated sunshades, and an air ionization system. Other refinements include increased cabin insulation and a stiffened body structure for reduced noise, vibration, and harshness. [11]

Sorento's interior highlights include: The interior dimensions are enhanced in nearly every way compared to the previous generation. The interior has been designed to better accommodate the varied lifestyles of its users. The easier entry and exit and improved spaciousness are immediately apparent. With a larger cargo area and available six- or seven-passenger seating, the new Sorento offers increased utility and versatility.

3.1. Sorento's interior highlights

The new Sorento will also be the first vehicle to be based on Kia's new-generation midsize SUV platform, providing superior space, comfort, and handling, a claim supported by the dimensions. The Sorento's length has been extended by 10mm to 4810mm, the width is increased by 10mm to 1900mm, and a 35mm longer wheelbase of 2815mm has enabled more practicality and increased interior room. Headroom is also improved via subtle increases to the vehicle's height and ground clearance. This enables the new Sorento to offer cabin space on par with larger vehicles. With all rear seats folded flat, the Sorento offers a maximum 2016 liters of cargo space. High seating positions permitted by the platform's design mean that front passengers get 10mm more, with a raised second row getting an extra 5mm. A lower third-row bench then allows more comfortable seating for two rear passengers. Measures to enhance noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) have also been taken, resulting in a quieter cabin. These include fitting additional sound-deadening materials and new hydraulic bump stops for the front suspension.

Kia says the Sorento's interior aims for a delicate harmony between style, comfort, and technology. The flagship SUV's cabin includes a curved high-definition touchscreen on the dashboard – the size of which varies depending on spec, six USB charging ports, under-seat storage, and an optional Mood Lighting system. The dash itself is split into upper and lower areas, the latter housing ventilation and climate control functions. Certain models will feature a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a head-up display, and smartphone connectivity to control in-car features. The available high-quality Bose surround sound system has 12 high-performance speakers, and the first-row roof is equipped with subtle style ambient lighting and LED reading lights.

3.2. Sportage's interior highlights

The front seats on all models are European-imported, with the base model covered in cloth and the rest of the models being leather-appointed. The driver's seat offers 6-way electronically adjustable seats and 2-way power lumbar support. The SX model adds heating and cooling functions, while the GT-Line further adds a 10-way power-adjustable seat and 2-way power lumbar support on the passenger's seat. A panoramic sunroof is added on the GT-Line grade. Step into the back seats, however, is a very different experience.

Infotainment is provided by an 8-inch display on the upper-spec GT-Line, which has screen-mirroring capability for Android smartphones. On the rest of the range, it is done through an older-looking head unit, with neither of the systems being overly difficult to use. All models feature a USB port, but it's not until the SX model when the connectivity is upgraded to include a 12-volt outlet, 3 additional USB charging ports, a second-row USB multimedia port, and 1 additional rear USB port. Audio systems are subpar, however, with the top-end GT-Line's 8 speakers being the best option. All features regarding the front of the vehicle are the same on each trim.

Kia Sportage provides a simple, yet straightforward design of the interior. The plastic door trims did let down the rest of the interior design and didn't look as good as the felt-covered armrests and leather trim on the other models. The base model has matte-black trim on the dash, while the upper-spec models have a gloss finish. Both models look quite uplifting. All models come with steering wheel-mounted cruise control and audio buttons, which is a great feature to have. Any button on the dashboard is within easy reaching distance, while the center stack is well-organized and easy to use.

3.3. Comparison of cabin space and comfort

The Sportage presents a spacious and comfortable environment, available with either a two-seat or three-seat rear configuration. More legroom than its predecessor is one of the side effects of an increased overall length and wheelbase. The increased width of the vehicle and long-range, deep-effect windshield creates a feeling of openness. The more deeply contoured armrest and the large-diameter steering wheel with tilt and reach adjustments are fitted to add overall driver comfort. The whole interior takes on a sportier and more ergonomic design, with metallic trim and a range of color schemes according to the model. In-cabin storage has also been greatly improved with many new compartments and cup holders integrated into the new center console and door trims. The opening angle of the rear doors has been increased to 78° to allow easier entry, exit, and child seat installation.

Sorento's additional 3° of recline in the second row and a 4.7-inch recline for the third row provides optimal comfort for passengers. The 'Remote Release' feature in the cargo area conveniently folds the second row and side seats at the touch of a button to allow easier access in and out of the third row in tight spaces. The new 'Slide & Stand' second-row seating allows easy third-row access, even when a child seat is installed. The seat can slide forward and stand upright, providing walk-in access to the third row without the need to remove the child seat.

4. Performance and Engine Options

Fuel efficiency and performance of the Sorento and Sportage will not be accurately gauged until the release of the new 3.8L Sorento and 4-cylinder Sportage later in the year. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Sorento will remain a true mid-size SUV with plenty of power and towing capacity, settling for a marginal loss in fuel efficiency. With a variety of engines still available, the Sorento will fit the needs of a wide range of people and maintain a balance between utility and performance. The new Sportage will be marketed as a four-cylinder crossover vehicle upon leaving the current V6 model. It will be an excellent middle ground between a sporty car and mid-size SUV with performance and fuel efficiency that is expected to surpass other vehicles in its class.

The Sorento offers an unsurpassed all V6 drivetrain lineup in the mid-size SUV segment. With two new engines and a diesel on the way, it provides a vehicle for a diverse range of people looking for a comfortable and affordable SUV. Stepless fuel efficiency and diminishing performance of the Sportage will cease with the departure of its current V6 engine in 2006. While specific details have yet to be released, Executive Vice President and COO Dick Macedo says, "The all-new vehicle will not just be a smaller Sorento, it will be a completely new vehicle with a completely different position in the market." With exterior dimensions very close to the first-generation Sorento, the statement heavily implies that the Sportage will shift from a traditional body-on-frame SUV to a car-based crossover vehicle. An efficient 4-cylinder and compact dimensions indicate that it will be a peppy yet agile vehicle. Measures of success for a further increased fuel efficiency and a better balance of utility and performance would indicate that the 2007 Sportage will be a step towards better meeting the needs of today's crossover vehicle market.

The Sportage has a single engine choice in 2006 which is a 2.7L V6 that has been on previous models since 2005. The engine produces 173hp and is mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission in 4x2 models (LX, EX) and a 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive in 4x4 models (LX, EX). It is an outdated and inefficient engine that is not up to par with the size and weight of the current Sportage. This engine will be replaced in late 2006 by a new, more powerful, and more fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine with no exact specifications released at this time. It is likely that a 4-cylinder model Sportage will be a low-cost alternative to the current V6 model and will focus on fuel efficiency and attributes associated with a crossover vehicle as opposed to the rugged truck-based mentality that has existed with the Sportage in the past.

The Sorento is built on an all-new platform utilizing automatic transmissions and available 4-wheel drive with four different possible engine choices. The base two engines include a 2.4L 4-cylinder producing 175hp and a 3.3L V6 producing 235hp. Kia reports that a new 3.8L V6 mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission will become available in the summer of 2006. The 3.3L V6 is expected to be the volume engine, while the 3.8L V6 is expected to be an ultra-luxury offering pushing the Sorento into an entirely new price class. Later, a common rail diesel (CRD) engine will be available in Europe and Asia. It is not clear at this time if the CRD will be available in North America. The 2.4L 4-cylinder and 3.3L V6 are not expected to increase in price from the 2006 models. All four configurations allow the Sorento to tow up to 3500lbs.

4.1. Sorento's engine choices

The 2023 Kia Sorento has 3 engine options, all paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. There are 2 gas engines available. The LX, S, and EX trims are powered by a 2.5L 4-cylinder that generates 191 horsepower, which is a 4hp drop from the previous generation. The SX and SX-Prestige (X-Line) come with a turbocharged 2.5L 4-cylinder that produces 281 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. Both 4-cylinders use the same 8-speed automatic, and either can be optioned with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The 2.5L non-turbo is good for towing up to 2,000 lbs, and the 2.5L turbo is capable of 3,500 lbs. The extra power from the turbo is a nice boost, but the towing capacity is a major benefit for those wanting to utilize the Sorento’s size. For a more eco-friendly option, there is a Sorento Hybrid. It has a turbocharged 1.6L 4-cylinder paired with a hybrid system that produces a total of 227 horsepower. The 2023 Sorento Hybrid boasts fuel mileage that is class-leading for a midsize 3-row SUV, as well as standard AWD. It is also capable of towing up to 2,000 lbs. This engine option will be very appealing to those who drive long distances and want to minimize trips to the gas station, as well as anyone who needs/wants to have AWD. The drawback is the price and less off-the-line power compared to the gas models. The gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine creates a finer air-fuel mixture. This more precise control results in better fuel economy and maximum power with lower emissions, making it an efficient choice. A turbocharger is added to the GDI engine to give the injected air and fuel mixture a nice boost. The combination of these two technologies has been proven to reduce harmful emissions and fuel consumption by 15 to 20 percent, while maintaining the same power as a larger engine. The Sorento Hybrid’s 1.6L turbo GDI has proven to offer an incredibly efficient yet responsive ride with superior fuel economy. The GDI and turbo GDI engines can be paired with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD).

4.2. Sportage's engine choices

Overall, the six engine designs in these two models will greatly increase Kia's competitiveness in the expanding crossover market where customers are drawn to the styling of the modern crossover but want to avoid the uninspired driving sensations from many of the current unibody SUV designs.

The Sportage is similar to the Sorento in that it offers both 2WD and 4WD transmissions, but peels away the similarity as the Sportage also offers the "Off Road" package, which is available in the UK market. This package enhances the 4WD system with an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) to more accurately distribute torque to the front and rear wheels according to traction needs. It also results in a smoother power delivery from the engine, an enhanced Downhill Brake Control system to assist speed regulation on steep descents, and a more effective Torque Vectoring System which applies braking force to the inside rear wheel and transfers driving force to the outside rear wheel for more stable and controlled cornering. This is a significant difference in the two models and may sway a consumer that is interested in more serious off-road intentions.

Conclusion: The 2023 Kia Sorento and Sportage both offer better performance than their previous incarnations and both have six-cylinder engines, a 3.5-liter in the Sorento and a 2.7-liter in the Sportage, which increase the obtainable horsepower to 200 and 170 respectively. This puts the Kia crossovers on the same level as their competitors and increases their appeal to the public. Both engines offer the same 4-speed automatic transmission and are good alternatives to the 4-cylinder motors.

4.3. Fuel efficiency and performance comparison

The Sorento and Sportage both promise greater fuel efficiency and a lower environmental impact than previous models, with no significant decrease in engine power. The Sorento will be available with a 2.4 litre, four-cylinder or 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine, both of which will offer gains in fuel economy, while the V6 provides a significant boost to the Sorento's towing capacity. The new petrol Sorento will also be available with a new 2.2 litre diesel engine option which offers excellent fuel economy and performance. Kia's R diesel was a comparably low power engine with the potential for good fuel efficiency. R diesel was previously available in the CRDi Ceed and Sportage models, but has been surpassed by the development of Kia's U line of diesel engines. The U line engine available on the diesel Sorento provides 197 horsepower and 441 Nm torque, offering an increase in power above the U line engines in the CRDi Ceed and Sportage, whilst still promising good fuel efficiency. The Sorento diesel will be available with either U1 or U2 engine variants, the U1 offering the most fuel-efficient option. The Sportage will feature the same 2.0 litre R diesel and engine choices that were available on the previous model. However, the next-generation Sportage will also include a new hybrid model that combines a 2.0 litre petrol engine with an electric motor, along with a plug-in hybrid model that utilizes the U2 1.7 litre diesel engine. These new hybrid models come as part of Kia's effort to offer lower emission, fuel-efficient options across its range of cars.


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2023: Kia Sorento vs. Sportage

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