A Victory & Reseda review of the 2019 Kia Sorento
The Kia Sorento is a lovable family hauler.
It's true. It does the job very well – it always had. For a three-row SUV that welcomes family and coddles them with creature comforts and nice manners, it has to show off a fun side.
Not necessarily. Families want to feel comfortable and drivers want a competent vehicle. There is no reason why anyone would leave off the Sorento off their shopping list.
First of all, the current Sorento has been with us since 2015 as an early 2016 model. The design offers plenty of curves and rounded shapes that may be found on some competitors. However, the Kia offers the illusion of being tauter than its mid-sized, three-row rivals. That is perhaps a good thing, considering the debate over the size of family haulers – rather, every automobile over the past two decades.
For 2019, we are seeing some updates around the horn. The grille takes on a more three-dimensional shape, while there are new bumper skins front and back and new taillights. There are also some new wheel designs for this mid-cycle refresh. My SX Limited tester adds splashes of chrome, mainly on the 19-inch wheels.
Inside shows more updates from the 2016-2018 model. One is the addition of more piano black surfaces throughout the SX Limited cabin. A new four-spoke steering wheel adds more chromed switches for that upmarket feel. Switch logic has improved, although Kia always had good controls in the Sorento. I always appreciated the T-bar transmission selector and the large in-dial TFT screen for every readout imaginable. All of the instruments are large and very easy to read.
Large front seats are comfortable and supportive, with a premium grade of Nappa leather for this SX Limited tester. It perforated for breathing, which helps in both heat and cold. In this case – the cold, allowing the heated seats to work for the driver and front passenger. The second-row room is adjustable for rake and recline. Access to the third row is helped by large rear doors and an easy access system from the second row. However, the third-row room is perfect for children.
If you have all three rows up, then you only have 11.3 cubic feet of space to play with. Need more? Just drop the third row and cargo space expands to 38.0 cubic feet. Overall, you can load up to 73.0 cubic feet of cargo, plus you can tow up to 5,000 pounds behind you. The Sorento is ready for camping – and glamping, if you so choose.
Harmon Kardon's 10-speaker surround sound system is filtered through the Clari-Fi sound processing program. The big 8-inch screen on top of the instrument panel serves as a hub for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, SiriusXM, onboard navigation, and UVO eServices. The sound is wonderful throughout the cabin, keeping this driver very entertained.
Jumping up to the Sorento SX Limited model means getting the powerful 3.3-liter V6 engine. With 290 horsepower on tap, the V6 offers plenty of power on the highway and around town. It also manages hills quite nicely. You do have to punch it for on-ramps and some passing maneuvers. An eight-speed automatic transmission transfers power to this tester’s all-wheel-drive system.
In terms of fuel economy, I was happy to see that I averaged 23.3 MPG. Perhaps that is the new standard for the class to ensure that V6-powered, all-wheel drive, three-row mid-sized SUVs maintain anything above 21 MPG. That should help families on long journeys.
The ride quality is very nice and right for families who ride together. It keeps a steady level of dampening while offering a smooth ride on better pieces of highway. The handling is considered soft, but very controlled. You will find some roll and lean through evasive maneuvers.
The steering system is fine, offering a good turning radius lock-to-lock. The feel at the wheel is a bit soft, which is solved by switching the drive mode to Sport. A heavier feel will maintain in-land stability, as well as better wheel control. The brakes are also superb, with good pedal feel and response. Stops are good in both normal and panic situations.
One advantage of going straight to the top of the line is to have every conceivable driver assistance feature possible on the Sorento. You get the SX Limited for the Surround View Monitor – a very helpful piece of kit to maintain your parking and backing up competency. We had those days when we thought we can perfectly do parallel parking either to be in the way of traffic or scratching the edge of your wheels. Having a 360-degree view of where you are in relation to any obstruction is a huge help in ensuring the safety and security of your Sorento.
The revised 2019 Sorento lineup starts with an L model with a four-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive, and a choice of three colors. Base price for the Sorento L is $25,990. On the other end of the spectrum is my SX Limited AWD tester, coming in with a sticker price of $48,765. Somewhere in-between these two figures are the right combination of equipment that will satisfy your family.
That is exactly what the 2019 Kia Sorento is intended for – family hauling. You can do a two-row SUV with older children and more than enough space to haul camping or tailgate gear. Or, simply put away the cargo cover, fold up the third row for younger children for the school run. Just like its competitors, the Sorento has that versatility that families truly enjoy from this class of vehicle.
This is where you come in! Size up the Kia Sorento to see if it fits your life. That would be my only consumer advice I would give to the families reading this site.
You do have choices. However, the 2019 Kia Sorento has improved from earlier versions to becoming a wonderful way to get out there – tailgating, camping, commuting. In all, it is truly a loveable family hauler.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Kia Motors America
All photos by Randy Stern