The 2019 Kia Sorento gets subtle updates this model year that improve its appeal and give it more versatility. New styling, a new transmission, and new standard features make this three-row SUV an attractive choice.
Outside, there are revised front and rear fascias, but the difference is not dramatic. Unless you park this year’s Sorento next to last year’s model, there’s not much chance you’ll notice the differences.
There are also changes under the hood with the disappearance of the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. Instead there’s a choice of a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder available on the two base trims or a 3.3-liter V6 for the rest of the lineup. All but the base L are available with a choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive. We drove the top Sorento SX Limited with the V6 engine and all-wheel drive.
The V6 is powerful and responsive, easily accelerating the Sorento into traffic. It’s also quick off the line creating an SUV with a more engaging drive than competitors. It’s paired to a new 8-speed automatic transmission that makes for a smooth drive experience with well-timed shifts. It never feels like the Sorento is straining or working hard to move its bulk.
It never sounds that way either with a quiet cabin for all three rows of passengers that makes conversation easy. That third row is now standard so every Sorento is a 7-passenger vehicle. Our SXL had a stunning interior. If you think of Kia as a bargain brand with a bargain interior, the Sorento will disabuse you of that notion, especially higher in the trim range.
Front passengers in the SX Limited get roomy, supportive seats that are heated and ventilated with Nappa leather. They’re also 8-way power adjustable with matching leather on the steering wheel and shift knob. The standard 7-inch infotainment display, which is a generous screen size to start with, grows to 8 inches beginning with the SX trim. This year, there’s also standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto across the lineup and available wireless charging.
Second-row passengers get rear heater ducts and have a 40/20/40 split-folding seat with heated outboard seats while the third row has 50/50 split-folding seats. The second row is comfortable with enough room for three, but the third row is very tight. Access isn’t great and adults will feel cramped. It’s best for the kids or for adults only on rare occasion for shorter adventures.
Handling is good with a ride that’s smooth overall with minimal road and wind noise. Rough road surfaces won’t jar passengers, although you will feel the bumps more if you end up riding in the third row.
If it’s cargo rather than people, the Sorento offers 11.3 cubic feet behind the third row, 38.0 cubic feet behind the second row, and 73.0 cubic feet behind the first row. Seats easily fold so making the transition from people to cargo isn’t a chore and the load floor is low to make loading heavy cargo less tiring. The Sorento can also tow up to 5,000 pounds in all-wheel drive models equipped with the V6.
Blind spot collision warning and rear cross-traffic alert are standard starting with the LX trim, but more advanced safety features are reserved for the top three trim levels. The EX, SX, and SX Limited all have standard reverse park distance warning, forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, smart cruise control, and driver attention warning. It’s a solid suite of safety features, but unfortunately limited to top trims.
Pricing on the Kia Sorento starts at $25,990, but once you reach top trims it’s not quite the same bargain. The SX Limited with all-wheel drive is priced at $46,490 putting it on the high side, especially for families on a budget. It does, however, come packed with features that still make it a good value if that price point is within your reach.
The 2019 Kia Sorento offers an improved drive experience, expanded infotainment features, and an updated look. Top trims also offer an exceptionally nice interior that makes the Kia Sorento a decidedly upscale vehicle for the price.