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Front Page - Friday, July 15, 2022

Behind the Wheel: Three rows in smaller size: Sorento vs. Tiguan

Most compact SUVs seat five people. But there are a few that also come with a third-row seat to boost capacity up to seven passengers. While that third row is pretty small, it does give you an easier-to-park and less-expensive alternative to a three-row midsize SUV.

If this is an appealing option for you, check out the 2022 Kia Sorento and 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan.

Both SUVs have been recently updated and are potential picks for a seven-passenger compact SUV. But which one should you buy? Edmunds compared them to find out.

Interior space, technology

All Sorento models come standard with a third row. For the Tiguan, Volkswagen makes it standard with front-wheel-drive models and optional with all-wheel-drive models. The Sorento’s third-row bench is small and low to the floor, but it’s usable for adults in a pinch.

The Tiguan’s, on the other hand, is probably best reserved for small children and folks you don’t like very much. Cargo space in both will be limited with the third rows in place, but there’s still enough room for a few grocery bags.

The Tiguan receives a number of technology updates for 2022. These include a standard digital instrument cluster, heated seats and a new steering wheel with touch-sensitive controls. But those touch-sensitive buttons, which are also found on the climate controls, are a bit too sensitive and it’s not uncommon to hit the wrong button or overshoot your adjustments.

The Sorento again has the advantage thanks to its comparable tech features and easier-to-use controls.

Winner: Sorento

Power, performance

All Tiguan models get a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower on tap, which is enough to get the SUV from 0 to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds in Edmunds’ testing. The Sorento’s base 191-horsepower four-cylinder is competent if unremarkable, but opt for the 281-horsepower turbocharged upgrade engine and you get one of the quickest compact SUVs on the market.

Edmunds clocked a turbocharged Sorento at 6.7 seconds in the 0-60 sprint.

In the ride and handling department, the Tiguan exhibits excellent body control and soaks up uneven pavement well. It also offers responsive and accurate steering. The Sorento isn’t quite as good at isolating the cabin from bumps in the road, and its steering feel could use some more, well, feel.

Winner: tie

Fuel efficiency

The Kia Sorento gets an EPA-estimated 26 mpg in mixed driving when equipped with the base non-turbocharged engine and front-wheel drive. On paper, that’s identical to the 26 mpg combined rating for a front-wheel-drive Tiguan.

However, in Edmunds’ real-world efficiency tests, a Tiguan outperformed its EPA estimate and returned an impressive 30 mpg in mixed highway and city driving.

An all-wheel-drive Sorento with the more powerful turbocharged engine option is naturally thirstier, rated at 24 mpg in mixed driving by the EPA. Edmunds was able to beat that estimate slightly, with an average of 25.2 mpg in testing. Meanwhile, the all-wheel-drive Tiguan gets an estimated 24-25 mpg, depending on the trim level.

Winner: Tiguan

Features, value

Like most Kias, the Sorento gives you a lot of bang for your buck. It comes with a long list of useful standard features and an interior that feels high-quality and well made. The Sorento has a higher starting price than the Tiguan at $30,885, but it doesn’t feel overpriced.

The Volkswagen starts at $27,785 and matches many of the Sorento’s standard features and even includes others that cost extra on the Kia, such as proximity key with push-button start. Yet somehow the Tiguan doesn’t convey the same premium feeling inside that you get with the Sorento. Parts of the interior are well done, but others feel cheap and not on par with rivals.

Kia offers one of the best warranties in the business with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The Tiguan, meanwhile, comes with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty for both powertrain and bumper-to-bumper coverage.

Volkswagen does offer two years or 20,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance, however.

Winner: Sorento

Edmunds says

Both vehicles were closely matched, but the Sorento impressed us with its upscale feel, friendlier technology and powerful optional engine. Though the Sorento costs a bit more, you’ll still feel like you got a good deal, especially if you compare it to what you would’ve paid for a bigger three-row crossover.

Alex Nishimoto is a contributor at Edmunds.