Midsize SUVs are incredibly versatile machines. They can be comfortable family road-trip cars, weekend tailgate platforms, and offer the security of getting around even in harsh winters. The Subaru Outback is a proven veteran in the class, with a hard-won reputation for reliability and good resale value. The Kia Sorento is well-balanced and sharp-looking, with a variety of trims that lets you find exactly the vehicle for your needs.

Let’s see what might make a car shopper choose one or the other.

2023 Subaru Outback

Few cars have as established a reputation like the Subaru Outback. It’s the picture that comes to mind when you hear the name Subaru. Approaching its 30th birthday, the Outback is known for crash test scores that provide peace of mind and all-wheel-drive chops that’ll get you almost anywhere. It’s distinctive – borrowing more from classic station wagons than today’s burliest SUVs. But it’ll get places some of them can’t go. Prices start at $28,395.

Subaru Outback Highlights

Five-star safety score: America has two major crash testing agencies. Both have given the Outback their highest awards. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded it Top Safety Pick+ status. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave it five stars. The Sorento came close on both counts – Top Safety Pick without the + from IIHS, and four stars from NHTSA.

Strong resale value: The Outback won our 5-Year Cost to Own award in its class in both 2021 and 2022 with its excellent retained value. We haven’t finished crunching the numbers for 2023 yet, but this year’s Outback is mechanically the same.

Standard all-wheel drive (AWD): A few years back, Subaru made a name for itself with a punchy ad campaign that stated, “It’s not a choice. It’s the way we’re built.” It? All-wheel drive. Every Outback drives all four wheels. Kia makes AWD available on the Sorento, but only for an $1,800 upcharge.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Outback models for sale near you.

2023 Kia Sorento

2023 Kia Sorento X-Line near a mountain and trees

The 2023 Kia Sorento checks a whole lot of boxes, making it a great choice for many. It fits in the same space as many 2-row SUVs but packs a third row. Kia builds it in an impressive eight trim levels, meaning you can equip a Sorento as anything from a comfortable-for-your-budget base model to a near-luxury ride. Buyers can choose from two engines and even three off-road trims. Hybrid and plug-in hybrid models are also available. Pricing starts at $30,090.

Kia Sorento Highlights

Second-row captain’s chairs: Like most 2-row SUVs, the Outback puts rear-seat passengers on a bench. The Sorento’s 3-row layout means turbocharged Sorentos come with much more comfortable captain’s chairs in the second row. If you’ll be carrying colleagues, clients, or adult-sized kids, they’ll be more comfortable in the Kia.

Unique third row: The Sorento’s best trick, though, may be that unexpected third row. No, it’s not long-drive-comfortable for adults. But large families can easily fit kids back there. And if you just occasionally need the extra space, the Sorento gives it to you without making you pay full-size SUV gas prices.

Ten years of warranty coverage: The Sorento’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty may be its most important attribute. Knowing you likely won’t be hit with a major repair bill for that long offers a real sense of security.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Sorento models for sale near you.


These two perform similarly on the road thanks to similar base engines or optional turbocharged engines. They get similar fuel economy, too.


The affordable midsize SUV class is one of the most crowded. There are a lot of pretty-good choices with similar prices in the segment. The Sorento is unique, packing three rows into a 2-row-sized package and giving buyers a lot of options. The Outback is more distinctive, looking like nothing else in its class and offering a long-proven AWD system and better crash test scores.

Each is the right choice for some buyers. Only your own priorities can tell you which is right for you.


2023 Subaru Outback 2023 Kia Sorento
Starting Price $28,395 $30,090
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.5-liter flat-4 2.5-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower 182 hp @ 5,800 rpm 191 hp @ 6,100 rpm
Torque 176 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm 181 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission CVT 8-speed dual-clutch automatic
Fuel Economy 28 combined mpg (26 city/32 hwy) 26 combined mpg (24 city/29 hwy)
Also Available 2.4-liter turbo 4-cylinder 2.5-liter turbo 4-cylinder; AWD; hybrid; plug-in hybrid
Basic Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 10 years/100,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety 5 stars 4 stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 7
Wheelbase 108.1 inches 110.8 inches
Overall Length 191.9 inches 189.0 inches
Width 74.2 inches 74.8 inches
Height 66.1 inches 66.7 inches
Turning Diameter 36.1 feet 18.96 feet
Headroom, Front 40.1 inches 40.3 inches
Headroom, 2nd Row 39.1 inches 39.1 inches
Headroom, 3rd Row N/A 36.8 inches
Legroom, Front 42.8 inches 41.4 inches
Legroom, 2nd Row 39.5 inches 41.7 inches
Legroom, 3rd Row N/A 29.6 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 58.1 inches 59.1 inches
Shoulder Room, 2nd Row 57.4 inches 58.1 inches
Shoulder Room, 3rd Row N/A 53.0 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 109.0 cubic feet N/A
EPA Cargo Volume 75.6 cubic feet 12.6/38.5/75.5 cubic feet

Source link