If you’re in the market for a 3-row, 7-passenger midsize AWD SUV that is neither too large nor too small, you need to check out Kia’s 2019 Sorento. It meets and exceeds all of the above in that it’s loaded with standard creature comfort/safety features, a generous warranty, plus an attractive price.
Sorento is offered in FWD and AWD and in L, LX, EX, SX and SXL (Limited) trim versions. We were privileged to test the latter and it had a mere four extra cost options that dealt with the cargo rails and cargo net/cover/tray. An exhaustive list of features are all standard equipment.
Base models of Sorento come standard with a new 2.4L, inline 4-cylinder with 185-hp, 178-lb/ft of torque that couples to a 6-speed automatic transmission. So equipped, the 2.4L gets EPA mileage ratings of 21/26 mpg (AWD). Higher trim levels such as our SXL, get a 3.3L, V6 with 290-hp and 252 lb/ft of torque for EPA’s of 19 city, 24-highway mpg when coupled to a standard 8-speed automatic. So powered, the 2.4L SXL was independently timed at 8.3 seconds for 0-60. Not a neck-jerker, but gives Sorento a linear application of power/torque from a standing stop. Highway passing was similar and it took roughly two seconds for the trans to kick down a gear. With this combination, Sorento comes with an appreciable 5,000-pound tow capacity.
As for Sorento’s AWD system, upon pressing the AWD Lock switch, it electronically locks in a 50/50 front-rear torque split. A nice feature for when the going gets rough in snow or muddy conditions. But with a 7.3-inch undercarriage clearance, Sorento isn’t designed for rough, off-road trails with rocky, brushy terrain. It can only handle mild off-road terrain.
Sorento’s interior has been upgraded and for the SXL, now includes an 8-inch voice control display that serves the audio, navigation, rearview camera with birds-eye view, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. A split screen can display a map with embedded posted speed limit signs, audio and other information.
Sorento’s heated/cooled front perforated Nappa leather seats have great under-thigh support that eases fatigue on long trips. They’re supportive and sumptuously padded.
A mode switch offers Eco, Sport, Comfort and Smart, the latter requires an explanation. As per the owners’ manual, Smart selects the proper mode of the aforementioned in relation to the drivers’ driving habits be it mild or dynamic based on steering and wheel operation. So it serves as a compromise.
Rear seat leg and head room is ample after a low 18.5-inch step-in. The seats slide and recline and are thickly padded and comfy. The third row though is mainly for kids as ingress/egress into the third row is tight and short leg room.
On a side note, and in interviewing a young mother of two toddlers who was loading her brood into Kia’s brand new and larger Kia Telluride SUV, she said they love it after they considered the Sorento. But they found the cargo area behind Sorento’s third row too small to hold two strollers.
After a touchless lift gate opener, Sorento’s cargo area offers 11.3 cubic feet behind the upright third row that measures a mere 13 inches deep, 46 wide and 31 high. Flip them and it expands to 38 cubic feet. And when folding the second row, it opens up to 73 cubic feet for 76 inches of cargo loading depth. Cargo load height is a low 29.5 inches and beneath the cargo floor is a small bin to stow small items out of sight.
Ride wise, it’s smooth and quiet on 19-inch Michelin tires. Steering is light which makes the SUV easy to park. Handling is enhanced by Kia’s Torque Vectoring Cornering Control that increases stability when cornering and to maintain traction by sending power to the wheels that need it. Sorento is stable in sharp turns with no tippy feeling despite being a tall vehicle.
Safety features now include tire pressure warning, forward collision avoidance w/pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, blind spot collision warning, rear cross traffic alert, smart cruise control and 23 more features and functions. And as said, the only extra options are for cross bars pano roof ($225); cargo net ($50); cargo cover ($150); cargo tray ($115) plus $900 delivery that brought the base price of $46,490 to $48,020. About the going competitive price for similarly equipped and size SUVs. But what most don’t have is Kia’s generous 10 year/100K mile powertrain warranty, 5/60K limited basic warranty and 5/60K roadside assistance service.
This, plus Sorento received the governments top 5-star overall safety rating; 5-stars for driver/passenger frontal crash; 5-stars for front/rear seat side crash; and four for rollover. All impressive safety and warranty numbers.
So for the family in need of a three-row SUV that can fit in their garage (189-inch length), Sorento deserves a look and test drive.