The Kia Sorento three-row crossover gets significant changes for 2019. Its optional turbo-4 engine has been discontinued, while a new 8-speed automatic now comes with the V-6. Kia has made changes in the steering and suspension that sharpen the handling and firm up the ride. New bumpers put the final touches on the exterior tweaks, while two models get optional earth-tone interiors.
The two engines are night and day: a base 4-cylinder or a lively V-6. The base 2.4-liter makes a modest 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque, on the L and LX models with a 6-speed automatic. The 3.3-liter V-6 making 290 hp and 252 lb-ft is a more appropriate engine for this family crossover, especially since it comes with the new 8-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional.
With all-wheel drive and the V-6, the Sorento can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
At 189 inches in overall length, the Sorento is smaller than some vehicles with three rows of seats, but larger than many two-row crossovers.
The base engine with front-wheel drive is EPA-rated at 22/29/25 mpg, while all-wheel drive brings 21/26/23 mpg. The V-6 gets 19/26/22 mpg with FWD and 19/24/21 with AWD.
The NHTSA gives the Sorento five stars overall for crash safety, and the IIHS gives it its highest ranking, Top Safety Pick+, in EX and higher models, which have standard automatic emergency braking.
The 2019 Sorento comes as an L, LX, EX, SX, or SXL.
The 4-cylinder L model is fairly slim on features, at a price of about $26,00. Three rows of seats and a 7.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard.
The LX adds blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts, satellite radio, two quick-charge USB ports, and an acoustic windshield. The V-6 engine is optional.
The EX gets the V-6 and adds forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. It also adds more acoustic glass, a 7.0-inch TFT screen in the instrument cluster, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power tailgate, and rear climate control. The only option package pairs an 8.0-inch infotainment screen with Harman Kardon speakers and a panoramic moonroof.
The SX adds larger wheels, unique exterior styling, a power passenger seat, 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, and different steering tuning.
At about $45,000, the SXL adds Nappa leather seats that are cooled in front and heated in the first and second rows, a heated steering wheel, LED headlights with automatic high-beams, and a surround-view camera system.
All Sorentos include a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 5-year, 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty that beats all rivals.
For being tall and boxy, the Sorento cuts a dashing shape. The smooth, well-detailed design looks especially good on the models with LED foglights and 18- or 19-inch alloy wheels. The swept-back headlights are projector-beams on most models, with LED headlights on upper models
The grille goes big with chrome. The new front and rear bumpers don’t change its looks. The high taillights are well-integrated into the liftgate.
The cabin is well organized, and even the base L model boasts nice soft-touch materials with a low sheen. A 7.0-inch touchscreen sits high on the dash, with climate controls arranged neatly below. Toggle switches for the heated and cooled seats look good on upper models.
All Sorentos have well-sculpted front seats with terrific support. The upholstery is fabric on the L and LX, and it’s fine, while the EX gets leather and the SXL gets Nappa leather. Those models have a power thigh bolster for the driver.
The second row can fit three adults, but the middle passenger will be squeezed. The third row can seat two smaller passengers comfortably.
Total cargo capacity is 73.0 cubic feet, with 11.3 cubic feet behind the third row.
The 2.4-liter engine in the L and LX makes a modest 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque, mated to a 6-speed automatic.
We much prefer the quiet V-6, which is optional on the LX and standard on every model past that. With 290 hp and 252 lb-ft, it provides much stronger acceleration, and it comes with the new 8-speed automatic.
All-wheel drive is available on all but the L model, providing good grip and a â€œlockâ€ mode for deeper snow. With 7.3 inches of ground clearance, the Sorento rides high enough but it’s not intended to be an off-roader.
The 2019 changes in the suspension and steering improve handling. On all models, the ride is exceptionally well-damped, delivering confidence even on bumpy roads. The L, LX, and EX have steering that’s light, crisp and precise. The SX and SXL have their own tuning that’s superb for a three-row crossover. The suspension is firm but not stiff, making the handling feel more like a luxury vehicle than an affordable crossover.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the 2019 Kia Sorento is its sense of solidity. The 290-horsepower V-6 with new 8-speed automatic is a good powertrain, and it’s sized right for many buyers who only need a third row on occasion. Its excellent warranty gives the Sorento a major boost over big-name rivals.