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2017 Kia Sorento vs Acura MDX

We often hear it said that the top trim levels of some non-luxury vehicles rival luxury models that cost much more, but is that really true? To find out, let's look at two midsize crossovers--the non-luxury 2017 Kia Sorento and the luxury Acura MDX-- to see which one is better.

2017 Kia Sorento vs Acura MDX

Styling: Kia Sorento

After a substantial redesign and an adjustment of some proportions, Kia appears to have gotten everything right with this latest Sorento. The design isn't startlingly original or groundbreaking, but it has taken the best bits from the competition and adapted to their own devices. The look is mildly sporty, but also quite serious with a good degree of presence.

The Acura MDX has recently had a much needed refresh that includes a new, more contemporary front profile, but this is still more of a sport wagon than a car-like SUV crossover. On the whole though, this style is very similar to when the third-generation was launched in 2014, so we have to give the opening round to the Sorento.

Interior: Acura MDX

Interiors are what set luxury and non-luxury models apart, and at the entry level you're not going to confuse the Sorento with a luxury crossover. But go up the trim levels and you won't be so sure any more. The level of refinement is generally excellent and the ride is superb. The cabin probably sits on the fence between luxury and mass-market, but definitely edges closer to luxury in top trims.

The cabin of the MDX is everything you want from a model like this: roomy, comfortable, well-equipped, quiet, and refined. But, then again, for the money it costs, the Acura really ought to be all of those things.

Power and Performance: Kia Sorento

The engines in the Sorento cover all the bases. The standard unit is a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder with 185 horsepower, the middle of the trio is a new 2.0-liter turbo-four developing 240 horsepower, and the biggest engine is a 290 horsepower V-6. Whether you want economy, performance or refinement, the engines here have it covered.

You won't find any alternative engine choices to the Acura's standard 3.5-liter V-6, which is rated at 290 horsepower and 267 lb.-ft. of torque and comes mated to an excellent smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission. It's a very powerful and refined unit, but a lack of choice means the Kia has the advantage here once again, especially since the Sorento can also match the MDX's power.

Fuel Economy: Kia Sorento

The Sorento doesn't have any fancy fuel-saving technologies such as automatic stop/start, but it's still pretty reasonable on gas given its relatively substantial size. The best ratings the Sorento can offer are 21 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined.

With best EPA fuel economy ratings of 19 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 22 combined, the standard Acura MDX isn't as good as the Kia.

Learn More about the Kia Sorento

If the Acura MDX was only a bit more expensive than the 2017 Kia Sorento, this two SUVs might seem close. The MDX is more luxurious, especially on the inside, but the gap between them certainly isn't wide enough to justify the eye-watering $19K extra that the Acura costs. The Sorento isn't just a better value than the MDX; in many ways, the Sorento is also a better vehicle. We have no hesitation in declaring the Kia Sorento our preferred choice.