Test Drive Review: 2014 Kia Sorento EX AWD

 

When I was supporting my friends at a CrossFit competition, I took along the 2014 Kia Sorento EX AWD. Little did I know until later that it would become the official vehicle of staying warm and loose the whole weekend.

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So there it is. Now you know it… I’m a CrossFitter. It’s true. Some may call me a douche, and others may say I’m killing myself. But the truth is, I’m living a healthier lifestyle, and I enjoy it.

Regardless, I’m here to review this 2014 Kia Sorento EX and tell you how it helped four of my friends in a local CrossFit competition. More on that a little later.

The Sorento is a very new vehicle for 2014. A fresher look, that doesn’t really stray too far from the last generation; Uvo entertainment system that works better than pretty much anything else this side of perfection. The interior feels supple, comfortable, and there’s room for either five or seven. My Kia Sorento didn’t have a third row, which surprised me. I’ve had two Sorentos previous to this one, and both had a third row. Oh well, I wouldn’t have used it anyway.

When the car was dropped off in my driveway, it was ready to go up against a cold-as-hell week ahead. The entire time I had the Sorento it was mostly just freezing. Like, dreary, damp, wet cold. It snowed a little, too, and the Sorento handled it beautifully without any issues whatsoever.

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In North Carolina -where I live- when it snows, people go bonkers and get stupid. And I don’t mean that to sound funny, because it’s actually true. I took my parents and grandfather to dinner the first night of the snow storm. We went and got some sushi at my favorite place. On our way the roads were covered, visibility was poor at times, but the Kia Sorento in this EX all-wheel drive trim was unflappable. I was traveling at a much slower pace coming back on the highways, for obvious reasons. But once I got tired of people hitting their brakes with 30 cars behind them in a single-file line, I said “screw it” and went for another lane. No one else was in any other lane, because there were no tracks. I decided it was time to make new ones for others to follow; and the Sorento carried me the entire way without any sign of struggle or an ‘oops’ moment.

I saw a silver Scion tC wreck into the guardrail next to me. Why? Well I found out later from my friend, a State Trooper, he’d crashed not five minutes before he wrecked again. In fact, I saw him pulled over by a State Trooper, and when he decided to get back onto the highway, he just leaped right into traffic only a car in front of me, causing everyone to lose their dinners as they raced to find the brake pedal. That’s when I made my own, new lane through the fresh powder. I was suddenly next to Mr. tC, when he swerved, narrowly missing me, and trying to correct (but really over-correcting way too much), and with a sliding doom-style ‘bang’, he was in the guardrail again.

Lucky for him the NC State Trooper only had about a quarter mile to pull forward to say “hello” to him once again.

The entire drive we were all warm, safe, and quite comfortable. No one complained, and Howard Stern was on at a nice volume. (C’mon, did you really think I wouldn’t have Howard Stern on?) Later, I decided I felt like donuts. So, putting my jacket back on, the Kia Sorento and I braved the stupid roads again to have a drive. At no point in that drive did I feel as though the car couldn’t handle it, or that I didn’t have full control, because I did. I was traveling only 5 mph below the posted speed limit (for safety’s sake), and it was fine.

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The next day the 2014 Kia Sorento EX AWD would go back to its home. Boo. Oh well, I drove my 911 in the snow and ice, though.

But before that, this far more attractive generation of the Sorento stepped out onto the town to watch some close friends participate in the NC Fit Open at CrossFit Clayton. At first I was only a spectator. But after the first round it was apparent the Kia was needed.

You see, it was blizzardly cold. Most CrossFit gyms/boxes don’t have heating or air conditioning. In the back staging area for the athletes it was no more than 20-something degrees. Try getting loose and keeping warm before an intense workout… which was what put my best friend, and CF coach, Jordan at the bottom of the 27-person pack after just his first workout. Damn. He was tight and cold. Upon trying to stand up after eating some protein his quads cramped up so badly that he literally fell into me. Not on me, but into me. I had to hold him up, and then finally pick him up and lay him on his back with the help of our friend and coach, Daniel.

Upon rolling Jordan’s quads out enough to where he could stand up and walk around, Daniel told him to go get some air outside and walk around. He needed to clear his mind from his bad start. He was stressed, cold, disappointed, and tight. None of the things you want to be when you’re competing against top athletes from all over North Carolina. He and I took a walk outside to his truck. Once we sat in the truck, which was directly across from the Sorento, I said, “Wait, what the hell are we doing here? The Sorento has heated seats, leather, a navigation system that I can play music and movies from my phone on, etc.” Jordan was all for it. We popped into the Kia, heated up and chatted for a bit, and got his mind right. We started to walk back, and I noticed a spot right in front of the back door where the athlete staging/hangout area was. I ran to get the Kia and was able to park it in that very spot. “YES!”, I said, as I was able to keep the car running for Jordan and our other friend, Courtney, keeping everyone warm, calm and loose.

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Jordan and Courtney both went in and rocked their second round workouts. Hell yeah. The rest of the day we all piled into a Kia Sorento, and each new round both Courtney and Jordan scored higher and higher. Then we needed some Gatorade to keep insulin levels up. So I jumped into the driver’s seat, knowing there was a pharmacy of some sort right down the road. I got us drinks and snacks to keep us all happy until we could get dinner later.

Later, it was time for the fourth and final round of workouts. Jordan had moved up to about 17th place. Courtney was steady in the top-10 without any issues. Jordan goes into first heat of the final WOD (workout of the day). Each new round was right up his alley, playing more heavily to his strengths. He was calm, cool and collected. He looked rested and ready, thanks to the Sorento’s heat and sound system.

The final WOD is going to 9 minutes long. Your buy-in is 30 overhead squats with 135 lbs. Once you complete that, whatever time you have left you’re to do an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of 5 muscle ups, 10 handstand push-ups, then 20 kettle bell swings with 53 lbs. As an exercise, this is hard. As a final round of a competition that started at 7:30 for the athletes, this is a killer.

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The timer beeps down from 3 seconds… and the workout starts. Jordan has the bar over his head and is squatting perfectly. Great form, very relaxed. We’re at the front of the gate watching and cheering him on, when suddenly, without warning, the friends of the guy in lane three, directly in front of Jordan, stop chanting his name. It’s go time. Me and my friend Jesse start screaming Jordan’s name. He’s staying strong. Then, within a matter of minutes, he’s done with his overhead squats and on to the AMRAP. Jesse and I look at each other in amazement, since the nearest person to him is still a dozen reps down. Matt Temsey, the owner of CrossFit Clayton and the MC for the entire event, is walking lane-to-lane getting rep counts from the judges, calling them out in the microphone. He pauses and has a face of shock when he hears Jordan is done with his buy-in and into the workout.

Just a few hours ago he was barely getting through the first workout of the day (WOD) and having a tough time with each rep. Now he’s doing his muscle ups, and you can hear Jesse and I across the entire gym, over the cheering and whistling of probably 200+ people. He’s facing us doing his muscle ups, and we’re reaching over the aluminum railing yelling at him to get each one he was working for. The guy in second place steps up to do his first muscle up at the exact moment (and it was literally simultaneous) Jordan stepped up to do his last. They both start and completed their reps at the same time. The only difference is that Jordan’s going on to his handstand push-ups. You can tell he’s a little tired, but he’s working through the pain like a champ.

After all was said and done, Jordan had pushed himself from 24th out of 24 participants… into a 12th place finish.

The following day we were back to cheer on our other friends, Jen and Lauren. Once again, the entire day the Sorento EX AWD was used as the official vehicle to keep everyone warm and loose. Keeping it parked by the back door, after each heat we’d all rush out and get into the car to have some snacks, laugh, and keep the athletes’ minds right for the next workout.

The as-tested price of my Kia Sorento EX with all-wheel drive $36,550. It came equipped with the $4,000 touring package. That adds an 8″ touchscreen navigation system, Infinity sound system, cooled front seats, blind spot avoidance, 4-way power passenger seat, panoramic sunroof, memory driver seat and mirrors, power folding mirrors, and a power liftgate. The Sorento EX is a good value, but there are other vehicles in this class that have a little more substance for the price. That being said, this still did the trick in the nasty weather, and it was great at keeping us warm and laughing at the competition.

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I'm a car, music, and Howard Stern aficionado. I also love planes, trains, anything to do with science and engineering, as well as politics. I'm working on my screenplays, TV shows, and a book or two. Stay tuned to when I'm really famous and even more awesome.

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