Driver's Seat: Sorento, Durango both nice but snug

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2014 Kia Sorento SX Limited AWD vs. 2014 Dodge Durango Citadel AWD: three cozy rows of snow-fighting power.

This week we'll check out the interiors of our two three-row crossovers, and next week we'll try them out on the roads.

Prices: Sorento, $41,600 as tested (starts at $24,100); Durango, $47,280 as tested (starts at $29,795).

Conventional wisdom: likes the Sorento's "plentiful standard and optional features; tech interface; available third-row seat" but not that it's "typically more expensive than a small crossover." And the reviewers liked the Durango's "high-quality interior materials; adult-friendly third-row seat" but not "less cargo room than rivals."

Reality: Both are nice vehicles but snug for passengers. Brrr! Now that winter is really, really here, a family guy turns attention to finding ways to get through the bad weather without fail.

Seating: The Sorento seats offer more than just correct alignment: They are also comfortable, if a tiny bit firm. In the Durango, the seats are contoured nicely but are unpleasantly firm and springy. Score one for the Sorento.

Snug as a bug: Neither vehicle will give families the room they might get from a minivan. The Sorento is especially tight for third-row occupants. The middle seat adjusts forward and back, but the way, way back is still a hard place to be.

The Durango, on the other hand, came with optional middle-row captains' chairs, which made stretching legs from the third row a possibility (a bench seat is standard). Thirteen-year-old Sturgis Kid 4.0 found that third row to be much more accommodating.

In and out: The captains' chairs make the Durango much, much easier for accessing the back row. Getting to the Sorento third row is brutal -- the climb is long and making the trip can be awkward.

Friends and stuff: In the Sorento, space behind the third row is minimal. The Durango gives a little more cargo space.

Night shift: The Sorento lighting is good, with a light in back of the third row and on either side of second. The visor/map mirrors are great. In the Durango, lighting is nice in the rear. Front map lights are good, too. But no easy way to adjust map brightness makes nighttime driving a bear.

Next week: We take them out on the road. One of them gets a real workout in the snow, and we also find out which one Mrs. Passenger Seat did not want to give back.

Some needed clarity: Last week I mentioned the Acura MDX headlights and said the halogens can be too well directed and hard to see by. Alert reader Don George of Atlanta pointed out that these are LED headlights, which I knew. Brain cramp. Thanks, Don!

Scott Sturgis, a freelance auto writer, can be reached at

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