Should You Take the Kia Sorento Off Road?

The Kia Sorento can be driven off-road in a pinch, but there are vehicles better suited for the wildest trailblazing adventures.
Written by Maxine Boyko
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Nov 28, 2022
Kia Sorento
can go on off-trail excursions, but we also have reservations when it comes to its full capabilities. While the SUV looks strong in stature, it’s important to see the full picture when it comes to off-road-ready vehicles. 
Driving through black diamond trails and extremely rugged terrain is not for the faint of heart—and neither is it for a faint car. Paying special attention to your vehicle’s specs can help you avoid dangerous situations. But looks can be deceiving when it comes to judging a vehicle’s off-road capability.
To help guide you on the path to understanding the Kia Sorento’s off-road potential is
, the
car insurance
super app
. We’ll begin with whether the SUV can go off-road, move on to talk torque, tires and ground clearance, and then give you some off-road alternatives to consider before buying. 

Can the Kia Sorento go off road?

Yes—but with limits. While some of the higher trim Kia Sorentos look rugged and burly, you should consider the limitations of the softer, less equipped trims before hitting the toughest trails.
The Kia Sorento varies wildly across its lineup and is a bit of a paradox. The turbo engine is a fantastic option, but there are better base engines to be had; there’s seating for up to seven passengers, but it’s a little cramped; and while the interior is quiet, the driving is rather rigid. In short, your expectations and which Kia Sorento you choose will affect your offroading outcome.
Starting at just $29,590, the Sorento is a great deal compared to its competitors and other models in the Kia lineup, but a good vehicle is determined by more than just price
Let’s take a look at a few of the key features of the midsize SUV.
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Ground clearance

Ground clearance is one of the de facto specs when it comes to off-road capability. A great off-roading vehicle will sit higher off the ground so you can dodge and dominate obstacles like mud, rocks, dunes, and other extreme driving conditions. Without a sufficiently high ground clearance, you run the risk of damaging your vehicle’s undercarriage.
The Kia Sorento’s ground clearance is 8.2 inches on X-Line models. This number falls short of the 8.5-inch safe off-roading minimum. Furthermore, an ideal ground clearance spec for off-roading sits between 8.8 to 10.8 inches. That said, the Kia Sorento can do some light off-roading, but you’ll be paying for expensive repairs if you’re not careful. 
You should also be wary of your Sorento’s year and trim. If you have a standard Sorento
, or
model, you’ll only have 6.9 inches of ground clearance to work with. And if your Sorento is a 2021 model or older, they’ll have varying ground clearances as well.


The best vehicles for off-roading should have high torque at low rpm—a.k.a. low-end torque. This gives the engine more power at lower gears, so you can have a more relaxed driving experience over rough and rocky terrain.
The Kia Sorento’s base-level LX has a maximum torque of 181 lb-ft @ 4,000 RPM, so you can expect to feel like you’re driving a sturdy, pretty capable vehicle. That said, starting with the mid-trim level EX and up, you can boost your torque to 311 lb-ft @ 1,700-4,000 rpm, which means the Sorento is likely to keep its cool under high-pressure off-roading scenarios.


The Kia Sorento is equipped with P235/65HR17 tires. These 17-inch wheels aren’t all-terrain and are better suited to daily driving and soft-roading. You can upgrade to20-inch X-Line wheels, but they’re not going to make or break the experience. 
If you decide to do some light-duty off-roading, be sure to
check for tire wear
. And if you don’t want to worry about frequent tire changes? Consider upgrading to meatier tires, with a tread pattern that offers more traction in tough conditions. 


The Sorento comes with front-wheel drive across the lineup, which isn’t going to help much when you’re off the beaten path. The X-Line trims, however, offer torque-vectoring all-wheel drive with a center-locking differential
The smart driving modes available on the X-Line trims will give you an extra boost that the standard lineup lacks. Sport Mode will tighten up steering and improve handling. Snow, Mud, and Sand modes will also give you a little more versatility when it comes to getting out on roads less traveled.


That’s right, angles can make or break your vehicle’s off-roading potential. Here are the three angles you should know a thing or two about:
  • Approach angle: this represents the steepest hill a vehicle can climb without the front of the car hitting the ground/slope
  • Departure angle: this represents the steepest angle a vehicle can descend without its rear bumper scraping the ground/slope
  • Breakover angle: this angle determines how steep of a peak/slope your vehicle can travel over without touching the ground
The approach and departure angles of the standard Kia Sorento lineup are 16.8 degrees and 22.1 degrees, respectively. There is no listed breakover angle which can only mean it’s
not suited for rough rides
. Again, the Kia Sorento is a light-duty AWD soft-roading vehicle and is less suited for moderate to difficult true-to-form off-roading. 
You’re afforded a teensy bit more wiggle room with the X-Line trim, which has an approach angle of 18.4 degrees and a departure angle of 23.3 degrees. Would we still recommend pushing the modest Kia Sorento X-Line to the limit? No, that wouldn’t be good—drive sensibly and you won’t have to worry about damage or getting stranded.

Off-road rating: In a Pinch

Check out our rating of the Kia Sorento using
DIRT rating system, as shown in the table below:
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
We’ll be generous here: the Kia Sorento gets an I rating. It isn’t a reliable off-roading vehicle since the standard lineup for the Kia Sorento is closer to a D rating. But, if you have an X-Line and know the ins and outs of your SUV, there may be a few instances where you can give it a little extra push without issue. 
If you don’t want any hair-raising stories to tell your friends and family from taking your D-rated Sorento out on a rocky road, then look to better options like the
RAM 1500
BackCountry Edition or
Chevy Colorado ZR2

The best off-road alternatives to the Kia Sorento

If you’re not sold on the Kia Sorento, consider some of its other features, such as the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 191 horsepower. It also gets a combined 27 mpg, which is pretty solid for a vehicle this size. 
If you’re still not sold, not to worry—there are other options. 
Here are some of the best alternatives to the Kia Sorento you might consider:
Best affordable alternative
2019 Hyundai Santa Fe
A 2.4-L four-cylinder engine with 185 hp means this midsize SUV is almost identical to the Sorento. If you’re okay with only 5 seats and less space, the Sante Fe boasts a slightly larger fuel tank and more standard safety features for less money.
Pricier alternative
2021 Kia Telluride
A 291-hp, 3.8-L V6 boasts more of just about everything with few drawbacks. But if you want more features, the Telluride has them—but prepare to pay extra.
Best alternative for serious off-roading
2021 Hyundai Palisade
At first glance, this midsizer isn’t much different from the Telluride. That said, the Palisade is rated as slightly safer with slightly better handling when it comes to bumps in the road.

How to find affordable car insurance for off-road vehicles

Off-roading isn’t the most affordable activity. It introduces unique risks to you and your vehicle’s safety, leading car insurance companies to charge higher rates. If you’re looking for ways to keep your hobby while saving money on car insurance,
is a great place to start.
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