It was not too long ago that the name Kia would invoke a feeling of cheapness and unreliability. I mean up until a few years ago, the brand really wasn’t doing anything to set itself apart from anyone in the market, but that’s all changed, and the rides have become noticeably better in style, comfort, power, and reliability. Some might say its a bandwagon I am jumping on, but I wouldn’t mind owning one now. They look good, ride well, and are affordable, and while they aren’t innovative in all their features, the technology and designs just seem to fit well together.
The 2014 Kia Sorento is no exception to this general statement either, with a slew of great features, creature comforts, and technology packed into a ride that feature-for-feature, competes well with its more expensive cousins. It’s a great vehicle designed for the modern family, with 3 rows for all the kids, pets, friends, and toys, along with technology to make the whole experience as easy as possible for the parents. It looks great in the driveway, fits well in a standard garage, and uses all the nooks and crannies well to fit as much into the ride as possible. Overall, there is no reason it shouldn’t be one of the top choices for a growing family, especially one looking to haul everyone everywhere.
But there is a downside. This vehicle is probably one of the least comfortable to drive. I mean physically taxing and uncomfortable. At 6ft 2in, my head was only a few inches away from the ceiling with the seat as low as it can go, as well as having limited movement back, and the steering wheel couldn’t telescope out far enough for an optimal position. I found myself sitting for hours in a vehicle that was not ergonomic to the driver, especially one of my height. Sitting so close to the dash and steering wheel. To say I was tired of driving at the end would be an understatement. The other seats were amazing, with a back row that would slide back and forth with ease, and the passenger seat was comfortable and lacked the same feel as the driver’s. I was not able to test the third row as I have legs, but it looked as if I could have tossed a child or two back there with ease. But the driver’s position killed my enthusiasm to drive a car, and I feel this should be one of the most important aspects in designing of any ride. If a vehicle is taxing in the drive, or the positioning isn’t proper, safety can be compromised. Reactionary movements have to change, and in this day and age, a driver needs to be as focused as possible on the road ahead and not on the comfort (or discomfort) of the driving position.
Then there comes the singular issue of the quality of the seat, not something I am usually able to speak on as the vehicles we drive are often fresh from the factory. But this one, within 8000 miles, had a broken seat cushion that made it feel as if I had a wrench in my back pockets. Trying to find an optimal position after driving for a few hours with that constant feeling was neither pleasant or comfortable, and after only 8000 miles, it’s disappointing. I will note that I was able to speak with a few other journalists who had driven the same exact vehicle in the past, and we all felt the same on the issue.*
So where does this bring me? Well, the 2014 Kia Sorento is an amazing SUV packed full of features often reserved for the luxury market. It has a great price tag, an amazing warranty, and overall is a great buy. But there is a feeling that maybe, just maybe, Kia was so concerned about putting as much technology into the ride they missed a few of the quality and ergonomic check marks. And that’s what feels strange about the whole ride; compared to the other vehicles from the up and coming brand, the Sorento is the only one that has that issue. With all the updates we saw in this new generation, maybe, just maybe, they will see this miss and catch is next time. Maybe.
*Editor’s Note: The seat issue was brought to the attention of the press fleet management group in hopes of getting it repaired for future journalists.