Midsize crossover SUVs are a popular market segment. Different shoppers look to different SUV brands for certain kinds of offerings. Do you want power and off-road performance? A Jeep Grand Cherokee is the way to go. Looking for style and pizzazz? The Chevy Blazer offers it in spades. How about economic luxury? A midsize crossover that gives you plenty of interior comfort and exterior style but doesn’t completely drain your finances? You might have to cross out the Porsche, Mercedes, and BMW offerings from your list, but you can still find plenty of fight left in segment trendsetters like Kia and Ford. Specifically, if you were looking for affordable luxury options of the midsize crossover variety, the 2022 Ford Explorer vs 2022 Kia Sorento might be the comparison that pops up on your radar.
Kia has been known for offering drivers very sporty, very contemporary, and very stylish vehicles in recent generations. It has positioned itself as the go-to brand for young drivers looking for something hip and nimble. Ford, alternatively, has managed to maintain a stranglehold on various segments, including the midsize SUV segment when it comes to the Ford Explorer. The nameplate has undergone various treatments in the performance and handling categories, but originally it made waves back in the 1990s for its luxury appeal (does anyone remember the Eddie Bauer Edition?). Well, the 2022 Sorento and Explorer aren’t trying to dethrone the high-end luxury SUVs from the boutique automakers, but they do offer some interesting features for those looking to spruce up their garage with something affordable yet luxurious. But just how luxurious do they get? Let’s explore.
2022 Sorento X-Line SX Prestige vs 2022 Ford Explorer Platinum
At the top end of the trim offerings for these midsize crossover SUVs sit their luxury-line models. These are the models that put “Wow!” with that exclamation mark on the lips of potential shoppers and lure in those willing to spend a little extra for that exterior style and interior comfort. On the side of the 2022 Kia Sorento, you have the X-Line SX Prestige. It’s a serious mouthful, but the company has made sure that everyone knows exactly which trim is the luxury trim, given the extra “Prestige” label at the end of the “X-Line SX” moniker. The only other Prestige trim available for the Sorento is the SX Prestige, so this is the highest performing, most feature-rich version of the Kia Sorento.
From Ford, we have the 2022 Ford Explorer Platinum, the topmost offering of the 2022 model year for one of the best-selling midsize SUVs on the market. The Explorer, however, doesn’t throw all its eggs in the Platinum basket, though. The luxury offerings are also spread across other trims such as the Limited and King Ranch. But if you’re willing to spend top dollar for every single bell and whistle that can be added to the 2022 Explorer, the Platinum is the way to go, giving drivers everything they could ask for both inside and out. And on the subject of features, it’s time to run down which one of these lives up to their trim title the most.
Exterior Luxury: Explorer Takes the Win
When it comes to exterior luxury options for the two trims, the 2022 Sorento X-Line SX Prestige comes equipped with 20-inch alloy wheels in an X-Line trim-specific gray finish. You can also very clearly see how much the exterior changes between the other trims and the X-Line SX Prestige, thanks to the X-Line exclusive front and rear bumpers, larger wheels, and the high-utility roof rails. You also have access to a smart power liftgate in the rear for easy access to the rear storage compartment. A panoramic sunroof with power sunshade functionality helps round out the exterior luxury features of the X-Line SX Prestige.
The 2022 Explorer basically sees the Sorento for what it has to offer, and the Platinum raises the stakes. The exterior luxury options already top the Sorento with 21-inch machined-face aluminum wheels with luster nickel-painted pockets. Topped off with P275/45 all-season tires, it’s hard not to give the edge in wheels alone to the Explorer, which opts for both style and functionality points. Hands-free, foot-activated power liftgate? Done and done. The Platinum also features a satin aluminum appliqué, rain-sensing wipers, and a matching satin aluminum grille. Satin chrome bodyside cladding helps accentuate the silhouette, along with chrome exhaust tips. Ford going all-out on the Platinum is no laughing matter. But that’s not all there is to the exterior.
Roof rack side rails also come standard on the Platinum in satin aluminum with black end caps. It also tops the Sorento’s panoramic sunroof with a twin-panel moonroof with adjustable sliders across the front and second row. Both vehicles also come with an LED lighting array, but the Explorer tops the Sorento yet again with adaptive LED signature lighting, where the lights turn with the direction of the Explorer. Definitely an easy victory for the Explorer here.
Interior Luxury: Tie
When it comes to interior luxury, a lot of people expect plenty of room, contour-hugging seats, and lots of comfort amenities to make the ride as relaxing and enjoyable as possible. When it comes to getting the most for your money from the economic luxury offerings of the 2022 Ford Explorer and 2022 Kia Sorento, both have very impressive features. The Sorento might be the more shocking of the two, just because you expect the Ford Platinum trim to bring its A-game every single time, but the Sorento has some surprising features.
For instance, the Sorento X-Line SX Prestige not only features leather-appointed seating but a 14-way power adjustable driver seat and an 8-way power adjustable front passenger seat. Heated and ventilated front seats, along with heated rear seats and one-touch folding seats, make for a challenging competitor in this regard. The heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel also adds to the Sorento’s luxury appeal in this category, especially with the accented open-pore wood trim. It’s a surprising move from Kia to take such a bold approach to its luxury offerings in this category, but it works.
Ford manages to outdo and also come up short against the Sorento in this very same category. A 10-way power driver seat with 8-way power adjustable front passenger seat means it’s giving up some leeway to the Sorento here. However, PowerFold folding benches, an E-Z Entry second row, contour seating, and tri-zone electronic automatic temperature control helps even the odds. The tri-diamond perforated leather seating with accent stitching, exclusive to the Platinum, helps compensate for where the Explorer may seem like it comes up short. But there’s no denying that this is a tough category with two competitors unwilling to give up an inch when it comes to interior luxury features.
Luxury Tech: Explorer for the Win
Ford has had a stranglehold on the interior tech sector for some time when it comes to infotainment suites, thanks to the Ford SYNC. However, the Kia Sorento X-Line SX Prestige puts up a decent fight with its 10.25-inch HD touchscreen display and 12.3-inch LCD Supervision cluster for the driver display. Obviously, it sports all the basic infotainment tech amenities you would expect from a 2022 model year vehicle, from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity to voice-activated controls, Bluetooth wireless support, hands-free navigation, and multi-device streaming with SiriusXM satellite radio. The Sorento X-Line SX Prestige rounds out its multimedia offerings with a 12-speaker premium Bose surround sound system.
The Ford Explorer Platinum matches the Kia Sorento X-Line SX Prestige in all that it has to offer from the functionality standpoint, from the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration to the voice-activated controls and navigation, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity, and multimedia access. Where the Explorer Platinum takes the rivalry between the 2022 Ford Explorer vs 2022 Kia Sorento into new territory is with its improved surround sound system courtesy of Bang & Olufsen, which features an available 980-watt 14-speaker setup for the Platinum trim.
Affordable Luxury Has Reached New Heights
It wasn’t too long ago when a car could be considered luxurious simply for offering power seats and a moonroof. Today, the bar has been raised, and vehicles like the Ford Explorer Platinum and the Kia Sorento X-Line SX Prestige are more feature-rich than exclusive luxury cars from years past. But overall, while the Sorento X-Line SX Prestige is a nicely featured economic luxury option for those interested in a midsize crossover, the Ford Explorer Platinum is still a league above Kia’s offerings. It’s obvious Ford isn’t going to be giving up that mantle that easily.