Kia continues to move upmarket, that some buyers may have not even noticed that Kia has basically turned itself into a more luxurious and sporty alternative to some other mainstream automakers. At the luxury end, Kia offers the K900 and we all can’t stop talking about the new Stinger sports sedan. While Kia’s sedans run the whole gamut of the sedan segment, the same can almost be said about its crossover lineup.
Kia is still building out both ends of its crossover lineup with both a new entry level and flagship crossover in the works. While we wait for Kia’s new three-row flagship crossover, it has managed to move the current top dog, the Sorento further upmarket for the 2019 model year.
The 2019 Kia Sorento received a small nip and tuck for the new model year that makes it not only look more luxurious, but it also feels like it should have a luxury badge on that big grille. The current generation Sorento has only been around since 2016, so for its midlife refresh, Kia gave the 2019 Sorento a new grille, LED headlights, LED headlights and new bumpers. The refresh gives the 2019 Sorento a fresher look, which now looks more modern and upscale thanks to the extra chrome and LED lighting.
Inside all 2019 Sorento models now come standard with three rows of seats, but like most midsize crossovers, the third row is better sized for children or your shorter friends. The updates inside include a new steering wheel, shifter knob and a revised instrument cluster with improved graphics. The air vents and the center console have also received a few styling tweaks. The infotainment system also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and there’s a pad to charge your phone without any wires.
The 2019 Sorento also received two big changes under the hood. First the 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine has been deleted. Second, the 2019 Sorento will introduce a new diesel engine, but Kia has yet to announce when it will arrive. For now the base engine is a naturally aspirated 2.4L four-cylinder with 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft. of torque, that’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The 2019 Sorento is also available with a 3.3L V6 with 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft. The V6 gets an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive is optional with either engine.
The 2.4L is rated at 22/29 mpg with front-wheel drive and 21/26 mpg with all-wheel drive. The 3.3L V6 is rated at 19/26 with front-wheel drive and 19/24 mpg with all-wheel drive. The V6 only Honda Pilot is more efficient at 19/27 mpg or 18/26 mpg, but the four-cylinder Sorento is more efficient than the four-cylinder Toyota Highlander with front-wheel drive, that’s rated at 20/24 mpg.
On the road the 2019 Sorento is tuned more for comfort than sport, which is a clear preference in this class. The Sorento’s interior is library quiet with very little wind noise to distort the tunes coming out of the available Harmon/ Kardon audio system. The suspension also keeps bumps in the road from throwing around your passengers and the light steering takes little effort from the driver. If you want a more engaging drive, try out the Mazda CX-9, but if a luxurious cruiser is more your priority than the Sorento won’t disappoint.
The 3.3L V6 has adequate power to get you moving down the highway. Floor it more a stop and the Sorento gets up to speed without any drama. If the road turns a bit twisty, the Sorento will do its best to tackle the curves with some body roll, but again, the Sorento is all about comfort.
To keep the family safe, the 2019 Sorento is available with a long list of driver assistance systems, like Forward Collision Warning System, Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Surround View Monitor. Two new additions Driver Attention Warning and Lane Keeping Assist. The Lane Keeping Assist system is great since it not only makes sure you don’t deviate out of your intended lane, but it also helps you steer with little adjustments. The Smart Cruise Control system is the best way to travel down the highway safely, since it will automatically adjust the Sorento’s speed based on the traffic in front of you and even brings it to a full stop if traffic comes to a halt.
The Kia Sorento competes against some big heavyweights, like the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer. It attempts to stand out with its more luxurious look and feel, plus it doesn’t hurt that the entry price for the 2019 Sorento is about $5k lower than both the Pilot and Highlander at $26,980.