If you're looking for a capable, convenient, and comfortable three-row-crossover conveyance, the Kia Sorento is a solid choice. Once you've settled on the Sorento, however, the choices don't end there. With seating for seven, two different engines, and both front- and all-wheel-drive variants, there's a Sorento for every taste and purpose. All are competitively equipped, and the top-spec SX Limited is downright luxe, boasting a standard equipment list as long as Giannis Antetokounmpo's arm. Add in an unbeatable warranty and you have a recipe for worry-free long-term ownership.
What's New for 2019?
In addition to a light exterior refresh, the Sorento sees more extensive changes under the hood and inside the cabin. Last year's optional turbocharged four-cylinder has been discontinued for 2019, leaving just the base nonturbo four and the silky-smooth V-6; the former comes with a six-speed automatic while the latter is paired with a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Kia's mid-size crossover is now exclusively a seven-passenger affair with the pop-up third row becoming standard. Lane-keeping assist and a driver-attention monitor are now optional, as is a wireless smartphone charging pad and a Harman/Kardon audio system.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
- L: $26,980
- LX: $28,480
- EX: $36,580
- SX: $40,980
- SX Limited: $45,680
The upscale SX remains our pick because of its nice blend of value and features. The 3.3-liter V-6 is standard on SX models but all-wheel drive remains an $1800 option. Standard features include luxuries such as a panoramic sunroof, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, navigation, leather upholstery with power-adjustable heated front seats, and a 10-speaker Harman/Kardon stereo.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Likes: Smooth optional V-6, comfortable ride, composed over rough pavement.
Dislikes: Weak base four-cylinder, numb steering, better for cruising highways rather than tackling twisty two-lanes.
The Sorento's V-6 acquits itself well against competitors in both the two- and three-row classes. The V-6 almost matches the sportier-driving Mazda CX-9 to 60 mph with a 7.2-second result, though it's outpaced by the more powerful V-6 version of the GMC Acadia. We've yet to test the base four-cylinder engine, but its 185 horsepower would likely strain in a ute of this size.
The Sorento isn't as fun to drive as the CX-9, with a tendency to lean more in turns than we'd prefer, and the steering can feel numb and disconnected. Those shortcomings only surface when you're hustling down a twisty back road, however. Overall, comfort and composure are strong, and the Sorento never feels like a bloated school bus. Three driving modes (Normal, Eco, and Sport) adjust throttle response, steering effort, and the transmission's shift points, but nothing much changes the Sorento's relaxed character.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The Sorento's two available engines mean that its EPA fuel-economy estimates vary considerably. The ratings are respectable among the Kia's peers, despite the 3.3-liter V-6 being thirstier than we'd like. With the new eight-speed automatic, the all-wheel-drive V-6 we tested managed a 26-mpg result on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test.
Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo
Likes: Spacious for people and cargo, nicely chosen materials, generous standard connectivity equipment.
Dislikes: Third row can only be accessed from the passenger's side, kid-only third row, base L trim lacks some upscale features.
Expansive windows and an available dual-panel panoramic sunroof lend an airiness to the Sorento's cabin, along with decent visibility. Overall material quality is good, with harder, cheaper plastics generally kept out of direct view. All of the Sorento's controls are logically labeled and located, including hard buttons and knobs for the climate-control system, an optional 7.0-inch information display in the gauge cluster, and an intuitive touchscreen infotainment interface flanked by secondary hard buttons. The Sorento's interior space is well utilized and can be nicely equipped. Comfort and ergonomics are the Kia's strong points, despite access to the third row being limited to the passenger's side.
A 7.0-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, additional power ports, and smartphone-based navigation is standard. More apps, including Yelp, SoundHound, and Pandora, can also be added. SX and SXL models come standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen with integrated navigation, plus a Harman/Kardon premium audio system with 10 speakers.
All Sorentos come with a 40/20/40 split-folding second-row bench seat. The third row has a 50/50 split-folding arrangement and, along with the middle row, stows flat into the cargo floor to make a level load surface. With all seats stowed, we placed 28 of our carry-on suitcases inside the Sorento's spacious interior, three more than the CX-9 and tying the Acadia.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Sorento's crash-test results are good, and automated emergency braking is either optional or standard on most models, as are the majority of Kia's other driver-assistance features. We'd like to see additional items—such as rear side-impact airbags—offered, and for some of the other driving assists to be standard on lesser trim levels. Overall, the Sorento is a solid safety pick. Key safety features include:
- Available automated emergency braking
- Available adaptive cruise control
- Available lane-keeping assist
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Kia provides the Sorento with excellent coverage, including the best powertrain warranty in the industry: 10 years or 100,000 miles. Other coverage is solid, including five years of roadside assistance, although you won't receive scheduled maintenance as complimentary.
- Limited warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance