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2022 Kia Sorento Vs. 2022 Kia Telluride: Playing Favorites

kia sorento 2022 oem kia telluride 2022 scaled jpg 2022 Kia Sorento (top), 2022 Kia Telluride (bottom) | Manufacturer image; Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

After driving the new-for-2020 Kia Telluride three-row SUV, I loved it. Annnnnd … after driving the redesigned-for-2021 Kia Sorento three-row SUV, I loved it. Which one is better? How do I decide? That’s a little like making a mom pick her favorite child. They’re both excellent, but if you break them down, one might be just a bit more of a match for your family’s needs.

Related: 2021 Kia Sorento Review: A Middle Child Deserving of the Spotlight   

Both SUVs appeal for their value-focused, family-friendly stance, and both got minor updates for 2022 — including grilles bedecked with Kia’s new logo. With cabins loaded with tech, quality materials and space, either one would be an asset to your family’s garage. Let’s break down a few key differences to help you decide.

The Goods

kia sorento sx x line prestige 2021 kia telluride 2020 36 cockpit shot interior jpg 2021 Kia Sorento (top), 2021 Kia Telluride (bottom) | Cars.com photos by Joe Bruzek

Especially in their respective top trim levels, both SUVs have cabins befitting higher-end vehicles, with quality materials and handsome designs. In features, they’re also fairly similar. A rear-seat entertainment system is available on both as a $1,500 option, for example, as well as a hands-free power liftgate. Similarly, both SUVs offer captain’s chairs for the second row in place of a second-row bench.

There are a couple differences, however. The Telluride has a standard in-cabin voice amplification system, a feature unavailable on the Sorento. And the biggest difference is in powertrain choice.

The Telluride’s sole drivetrain is a 3.8-liter V-6 paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Sorento, however, offers a lot more options. Its base engine is a 191-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder that works with an eight-speed automatic transmission. An available 281-hp, turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder pairs with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. Finally, the Sorento also offers hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrains, the latter good for up to 32 EPA-rated miles on electric power alone.

In the Sorento, I tested the turbo 2.5-liter with the eight-speed automatic and found the pair to be well matched; after a hint of turbo lag, power was prompt, smooth and quiet. In terms of ride, I found the Sorento to be stable and confident at all times, maintaining composure over bumps and steadiness in corners; some editors thought the ride was on the firm side, however. Smaller wheels will likely improve ride quality.

Meanwhile, the V-6-only Telluride has more power, and you can really feel it kick in when climbing grades or during passing maneuvers, which it does with little fuss thanks in part to its smooth, prompt eight-speed. In terms of ride and handling, the Telluride feels heavier but never clumsy, and it has a well-damped ride and precise steering.

No surprise, you’ll also see another big difference in towing capacity.  The Sorento tops out at 2,000 pounds with the base engine and 3,500 pounds with the turbo powertrain and tow package. In contrast, the Telluride is rated to haul 5,000 pounds.

The Space

kia sorento hybrid 2021  16 car seats  interior  second row jpg 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid | Cars.com photo by Jennifer Geiger

Both vehicles have three rows of seats, but the Telluride is overall longer, as well as bigger where it counts: cargo space and passenger room.

By Cars.com’s independent measurements, there’s 22.13 cubic feet of space behind the Sorento’s second row and 6.59 cubic feet behind the third row. Meanwhile, the Telluride has 26.23 cubic feet of space behind the second row (19% more than the Sorento) and a substantially larger 11.18 cubic feet behind the third row (70% more).

While the two SUVs have similar second-row headroom and legroom dimensions, the differences in the third row are more significant. The Sorento has two seats in the wayback, while the Telluride’s third row seats three.

Neither SUV’s third row is particularly roomy, but the Telluride’s 31.4 inches of legroom feels more spacious than the Sorento’s 29.6 inches. The Telluride’s third row is wider, too, with 43.7 inches of hip space compared with the Sorento’s 42.5 inches. Similarly, the Telluride’s additional inch and a half of headroom also helps make the third row feel less cramped.

In car-seat accommodations, each SUV has strengths and weaknesses. The Sorento’s second row aced our Car Seat Check thanks to ample legroom, easy-access Latch anchors and easy buckles for small hands to use independently. In the third row, however, a fixed head restraint and floppy buckles hurt the booster grade. Read the full Car Seat Check.

Meanwhile, the current-generation Telluride struggled a bit more, with a lower grade for the infant seat in the second row because of difficult-to-access Latch anchors and a B for the second-row booster because the buckle stalks sink into a pocket in the seat upholstery, which might hamper kids using them independently. In the third row, the buckles are on floppy bases, which again might make them tough for small hands to use. Read the full Car Seat Check.

The Bottom Line

kia telluride nightfall edition 2022 oem 01 angle  exterior  front jpg 2022 Kia Telluride | Manufacturer image

Safety and value are two key considerations. Both SUVs are loaded with a lot of standard equipment, but small differences set them apart.

Both models have automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, a driver attention warning system, a rear-seat alert system that uses ultrasonic sensors, lane departure warning with steering assist and hands-on lane centering.

The Telluride adds more standards such as adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, rear cross-traffic alert and intervention, and the Safe Exit Assist system for the rear seats, which uses the SUV’s rear-facing radar to detect oncoming traffic and prevent rear doors from opening when an approaching vehicle or bicycle is detected. All of these are available on the Sorento.

My favorite safety feature is another area where the two SUVs differ: the available blind view monitor. The monitor projects a live view of adjacent lanes in the instrument cluster and is activated via the turn signal. I find it especially useful in congested city driving when I’m sharing the road with cars, people and bikes. In the Sorento, the views appear in the left and right gauges ahead of the driver. In the Telluride, they show up on a small screen between the gauges. It’s fine, but I prefer the Sorento’s setup for visibility.

The Telluride has more standard safety features and more room, but it also costs more — both at the dealership and the gas pump, due to its bigger V-6 engine versus the Sorento’s four-cylinder or hybrid models. In base trim, the Sorento gets an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 24/29/26 mpg city/highway/combined compared to the Telluride’s 20/26/23 mpg rating. The 2022 Telluride starts at $34,345 compared with the Sorento’s $30,805 base price; all prices include destination. See the models compared.

So how do you narrow it down? With the Telluride, you get more of just about everything, but you’ll also have to pay for it. If you don’t need the extras, the Sorento is also an excellent choice.

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Photo of Jennifer Geiger
News Editor Jennifer Geiger joined the automotive industry in 2003, much to the delight of her Corvette-obsessed dad. Jennifer is an expert reviewer, certified car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats — many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer Geiger

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