Is Kia Sorento All Wheel Drive? What You Need to Know

Is Kia Sorento All Wheel Drive?

Are you considering buying a Kia Sorento and wondering which trim options come with an all-wheel-drive drivetrain?

You’ve landed in the right spot.

I have delved into extensive Sorento technical data from the second generation onwards to provide you with the answer you seek.

The second generation of the Kia Sorento introduced some trims with 4-wheel drive as an option to the regular front-wheel drive.

Beginning in 2011, the 4-wheel drive was substituted with all-wheel drive, with certain trims providing it as an optional feature in the current models.

Discover precisely which trims offer AWD in the sections below.

Additionally, I will briefly discuss the difference between an AWD and a 4WD.

Is Kia Sorento All Wheel Drive? An image of a 2023 Kia Sorento driving down the road
An image of a 2023 Kia Sorento driving down the road. PHOTO:


Which Kia Sorento Trims Have All-Wheel Drive?

Here’s an overview of the various trims of the Kia Sorento, starting from the current model and tracing back to its launch of the second generation in 2009, all the way to 2007.

  • Kia Sorento 2022 and 2021

In 2021, the Kia Sorento offered a choice of five distinct trims.

Among these, the LX, S, and EX trims had the option of equipping an AWD drivetrain.

When opting for AWD, it comes paired with a dual-clutch 8-speed automatic transmission alongside a potent 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder direct-injection engine.

This engine can produce 191 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and delivers 181 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.

The two trims lacking an available AWD both incorporate hybrid technology, boasting a 6-speed automatic transmission paired with a 1.6-liter turbocharged hybrid engine.

In 2022, Kia significantly expanded the range of trims offered for the Kia Sorento, jumping from merely five trims available in 2021 to an impressive 12 trims.

Among the twelve trims available in 2022, four offer the option for AWD.

Notably, the Hybrid EX and Hybrid S now come with the option for AWD.

Moreover, five trims are exclusively available with AWD, including two new hybrid trims: the Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid SX and Plug-in Hybrid SX Prestige.

The remaining three trims are X-Line EX, X-Line SX Prestige, and X-Line S.

  • Kia Sorento 2020 and The Fourth Generation

Upon its launch in 2020, the fourth generation of the Kia Sorento offered a selection of six trims.

Among these, five trims provided the option to upgrade to an AWD drivetrain in addition to the standard FWD configuration.

Four of the available trims featured AWD alongside an 8-speed automatic transmission and a 3.3-liter V6 regular unleaded engine.

This robust engine boasted a power output of 290 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 252 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm.

The Kia Sorento LX stood out as the sole trim offering AWD paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission and a smaller 2.4-liter inline-4 regular unleaded engine.

Despite its smaller size, this engine still delivered respectable performance, generating up to 185 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 178 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.

  • Kia Sorento 2019

In 2019, the Kia Sorento boasted eight available trims.

Among them, seven provided the option for All-Wheel Drive (AWD) alongside the standard Front-Wheel Drive (FWD).

Six of these AWD-equipped trims were powered by the familiar 3.3-liter V6 regular unleaded engine, consistent with the fourth-generation release.

  1. SX Limited V6.
  2. SX V6.
  3. EX V6.
  4. S V6.
  5. EX Sport V6.
  6. LX V6.

The sole model equipped with the 2.4-liter inline-4 regular unleaded engine paired with all-wheel drive was the Kia Sorento LX.

Fourth-Generation Improvements For Kia Sorento

The new body boasts a wheelbase extension of 1.4 inches longer than the previous generation.

Moreover, the total length was increased by 10 millimeters.

  • Kia Sorento 2017 To 2018

In 2017 and 2018, the Kia Sorento came in seven different trims.

The sole trim that didn’t include an AWD option was the Kia Sorento L.

In 2018, Kia discontinued the use of the 2.0-liter regular unleaded inter-cooled turbo I-4 engine in the Kia Sorento trim.

This particular engine, found in the Kia Sorento EX model, was matched with a 6-speed automatic transmission, delivering 240 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 1,450 rpm.

  • Kia Sorento 2016

In 2016, Kia presented eight trim options for the Kia Sorento.

Among these, only the Kia Sorento L did not provide the option for an all-wheel drive (AWD) configuration.

Two trims featuring all-wheel drive retained the 2.0-liter regular unleaded inter-cooled turbo I-4 engine.

Additionally, the Kia Sorento SX Limited utilized this engine alongside a 6-speed automatic transmission.

  • Kia Sorento 2013 To 2015

Between 2013 and 2015, there were only five trims accessible.

Each of these trims provided the option of an AWD drivetrain.

These specific years mark the sole period when Kia Sorento made AWD available across all its trim variations.

The third generation of the Kia Sorento debuted in 2015, featuring notable alterations in its body design, most notably an expanded seating capacity from the regular five to seven seats.

  • Kia Sorento 2011 and 2012

In 2011, Kia Sorento trims introduced the option for an All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system, replacing the previous 4WD system available in earlier models.

In 2011 and 2012, the Kia Sorento had six trims, with AWD available on five of them.

Three trims featuring the AWD option were outfitted with the robust 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine matched with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

This powertrain boasts 272 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 248 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm.

Meanwhile, the remaining two AWD trims—the LX and EX—came equipped with a 2.4-liter inline-4 gasoline engine, delivering 175 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 169 lb-ft of torque at 3,750 rpm.

  • Kia Sorento 2007 To 2010

Between 2007 and 2010, the Kia Sorento had only three trims available.

During this timeframe, the Kia Sorento provided a 4WD option instead of an AWD system.

The Kia Sorento EX boasted a 4WD system coupled with a 5-speed automatic transmission.

Under the hood, it housed a potent 3.8-liter V6 gasoline engine, generating 262 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm.

Meanwhile, the LX and base trims shared the same 5-speed automatic transmission.

They were powered by a smaller 3.3-liter V6 gasoline engine, having transitioned from the larger 3.8-liter V6 gasoline engine in 2007.

What Is The Difference Between 4WD and AWD?

Some individuals think that these are the same and that they’re simply a different way to market the same thing.

Below, I will unveil the mystery of the difference between an AWD and a 4WD.

  • What Is An AWD?

An all-wheel-drive (AWD) drivetrain distributes power from the engine to all four wheels continuously, without requiring any input from the driver.

This constant engagement ensures its reliability in emergencies where sudden power to all wheels is necessary, making it more dependable than a four-wheel-drive (4WD) system.

However, the perpetual activation of the AWD system also poses a drawback.

It consistently consumes more fuel since power is directed to all wheels even when not required, unlike front-wheel-drive (FWD) or rear-wheel-drive (RWD) systems.

Consequently, vehicles equipped with AWD tend to have higher fuel consumption compared to those with FWD or RWD drivetrains.

  • What Is A 4WD?

A 4WD functions similarly to an AWD by distributing torque to all four wheels of a vehicle for optimal traction.

However, unlike AWD, a 4WD system can be engaged or disengaged by the driver using a lever or switch typically located near the shifter or steering wheel.

Additionally, 4WD systems are engineered to be more rugged than AWD setups, allowing vehicles equipped with 4WD to tow and carry heavier loads compared to those with AWD.

4WD systems feature front, rear, and center differentials along with a two-speed transfer case.

This transfer case empowers the driver to select between 4H (high) or 4L (low) gearing for varying driving conditions.

  • What Is 4H Gearing?

A 4H, or four-wheel drive with high-range gearing, proves invaluable on wet or icy roads, effectively operating like a standard AWD system.

This mode is equally adept for navigating terrains such as firm sand, dirt roads, and gravel tracks.

  • What Is 4L Gearing?

4L, also referred to as four-wheel drive, low range, offers optimal traction for challenging off-road scenarios.

It employs a low gear ratio to distribute enhanced power to all four wheels, resulting in slower wheel rotation compared to 4H.

This mode proves beneficial for navigating terrains such as soft sand, sand dunes, deep mud, steep hills, sharp declines, deep snow, and slow-paced rock crawling.


The Kia Sorento has evolved over its various generations to offer a wide range of trims with all-wheel-drive (AWD) capabilities.

From the introduction of AWD options in 2011 to the current lineup, Kia has consistently provided customers with choices suitable for their driving needs and preferences.

The transition from 4-wheel drive to AWD reflects Kia’s commitment to enhancing vehicle performance and adaptability across diverse terrains and weather conditions.

Understanding the difference between AWD and 4WD helps buyers make informed decisions based on their intended usage, whether for daily commuting or off-road adventures.

With its continuous improvements and expanded range of trims, the Kia Sorento remains a competitive option in the SUV market for those seeking versatility, reliability, and advanced drivetrain technology.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Is the 2016 Kia Sorento all-wheel drive?

The 2016 Kia Sorento L and LX trim levels come equipped with a standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, generating 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque.

Like all Kia Sorento models, they feature a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive as standard, with the option for all-wheel drive.

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