2024 Kia Sorento X-Pro First Drive Review: Honey, I Wilderness’d the Sorento, Sort Of

Everything old is new again. Rugged, aspirational SUVs became softer, street-focused crossovers that were better at their actual mission but didn’t scream “I’m outdoorsy” to your fellow Target shoppers. Now we’re back to the rugged thing again, and X-Pro is what Kia is calling their most rugged models. The 2024 Sorento X-Pro joins the Sportage and Telluride X-Pro in the lineup, and Kia invited me and a gaggle of fellow media out near Winter Park, Colorado to see just how capable the Sorento X-Pro can be.

2024 Kia Sorento Updates

If you’re an avid Sorento fan, you’ll remember the current generation has only been on sale for a few years. The legit “all new” model came out for the 2021 model year but Kia’s decided it’s already time for a facelift. Which, of course, is being called “all new” as well.

Updates to the 2024 Kia Sorento include new front and rear styling, a few new paint and interior colors, and revised interior design. The two-screens-as-one look is sweeping Kia as it has many other brands lately, and to good effect. The dashboard’s design is more cohesive, more modern, and still retains plenty of buttons and knobs for eyes-up adjustments.

Trim levels have been simplified, too. Kia added an “X-Line” appearance package to the mix, which is standard on all Sorentos with all-wheel drive. Ignoring the blacked-out badging and wheels, the big news is that every AWD Sorento gets a locking center differential standard as part of the X-Line treatment. Every AWD Sorento X-Line also gets 8.2 inches of ground clearance.

Most AWD Sorentos Are X-Line… So What’s the 2024 Sorento X-Pro, Then?

Wheels and tires. That’s the biggest change if you pick a Sorento X-Pro over any other model. Kia swaps out the black 20-inchers and all-season highway tires for smaller 17-inch wheels (still black, to my chagrin) and BFGoodrich all-terrains.

Beyond the wheel and tire package, Kia managed to find another 1,000 pounds of towing ability with the Sorento X-Pro. It’s achieved with a different radiator that increases cooling capacity and thus provides 4,500 pounds of trailering. You’ll still need to option the trailer hitch and wiring, a package not priced at this writing but likely to add $500 based on 2023 Sorento options.

Requisite badging is added outside and similar X-Pro stitching is found on the seats.

Every 2024 Kia Sorento X-Pro is powered by the corporate 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, making 281 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission pairing is an 8-speed “wet” DCT, a design more similar to Volkswagen’s beloved DSG than Ford’s problematic “dry” PowerShift.

You’ll find plenty of nice accoutrements inside, too, given every Sorento X-Pro is based on the fully-loaded SX Prestige trim. That means heated and ventilated front seats, heated second row seats, a Bose sound system, a digital rear-view mirror, and phone-as-a-key functionality. Open-pore “wood” is standard, as is a heated two-tone steering wheel; both class up the interior quite a bit.

Testing the X-Pro Bits of the Sorento X-Pro

It snows in Colorado. Usually, it snows a lot. The intent of the trip was to drive the Sorento X-Pro in very snowy conditions, which we unfortunately missed by a few days. Our snowy, muddy portion of the drive route ended up as a mostly-dry series of dirt roads.

To its credit, the Sorento X-Pro felt good on those dirt roads, even as smoothed-out gave way to washboarding. Tires play a big part in the driving experience – perhaps the single most important, really – and in this scenario, having a smaller wheel with a big sidewall went a long way.

Comfort on the highway was similarly good, though aggressive cornering through a mountain pass revealed the all-terrains’ limits. I still got past those pesky Suburbans, but the BFGs and my drive partner Joel were both squealing slightly in the process. Here the DCT was a willing partner, shifting quickly and obeying my inputs instead of doing its own thing. Tire noise and cabin noise at highway speed were both acceptable given the tendency of an A/T to be somewhat noisy with its chunkier tread blocks.

Back at our home base, a resort with some unplowed side roads of its own, I was finally able to see what the tires, diff, and software could do, albeit in a limited environment. I came to a stop at the base of a snow-covered uphill grade, engaged the all-wheel drive’s Snow mode and locked the center differential. This posed no real challenge to the Sorento X-Pro. Snow mode dulls the throttle response pretty significantly, which is helpful in avoiding wheelspin from a stop. Beyond that, the car just… drove up the road.

The second road I chose quickly gave way from snow to mud. With no “mud mode” on the drive mode dial, I left it in Snow with the diff locked and attempted the same sort of climb up a slight grade. The Sorento X-Pro got moving just fine, though the mud got progressively deeper and more slick. Snow mode was not the best move here, as the Kia’s software started pulling throttle more and more. The solution was to engage Normal mode and disable traction control, at which point I was able to power through to the top of the small hill. Turning around was no challenge, and the hill descent software worked well to control my speed back to dry ground.

Following the Subaru Wilderness Formula, Sort Of

Kia was reluctant to list any Subaru as a competitor to the Sorento X-Pro, even when pressed, citing the Sorento’s third row as a differentiator. Sure. But this “go a bit further off-road” formula is one arguably made popular by Subaru’s Wilderness family, though every brand is choosing which elements matter to them most.

Where Subaru gives you extra ground clearance – an Outback Wilderness has as much as a stock G-Wagen, if you can believe that – Kia feels that 8.2 inches is enough for everyone. There are no skid plates or reinforced recovery points, as you’ll find on a Honda TrailSport. The rear differential remains open, instead of a limited-slip unit as the Ford Explorer Timberline offers.

Unlike Subaru’s models, Kia’s “killer app” on the Sorento X-Pro is the locking center differential. It takes away some need for the all-wheel drive software to modulate power through braking, instead letting you dial in a 50/50 split front to rear on request. The question, then, is if the X-Pro trim is worth it over any other Sorento trim. Save the most basic Sorento S with AWD, the center differential comes on all of ’em.

Is the 2024 Kia Sorento X-Pro Worth the Price?

Choosing the Sorento SX Prestige X-Pro will run you $47,390 (add another $500 if you want that trailer hitch), compared to $46,390 for the same SX Prestige without X-Pro.

If your budget has you on the more basic end of Sorento-ville – say, a $43,490 SX – you could replicate the wheel and tire package on your own, though it’ll cost you. A set of 17×7.5″ Enkei Overlander wheels and the same BFGoodrich TrailTerrain T/A tires found on the X-Pro will run about $1,600 before installation. And you won’t get the upgraded cooling from that bigger radiator.

Should your travels find you off-pavement frequently and you want all the SX Prestige goodies as well, the X-Pro package is easily worth the price of admission. If your driving is largely on asphalt, the locking differential that comes with most other all-wheel drive Sorentos will handle most of the rough stuff even with a “lesser” tire in the mix.

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