In the overcrowded segments of compact and midsize SUV’s, it’s all about appearances, equipment and value. While this last facet has been Kia’s spear for decades, the brand is now navigating towards offering more commodities and, more importantly, working on the brand to associate it with the drivers’ lifestyle.
For 2019, the Kia Sorento hasn’t changed much in terms of appearances. It gets new headlights, taillights, fog lights and a refreshed fascia that includes a few more chrome accents. The cabin is essentially the same as well, minus a few iterations, added tech and aesthetic tweaks. For example, the steering wheel has been redesigned and now incorporates lever type controls (I much preferred the outgoing “roller” type controls).
The 8-inch touchscreen now benefits from more sensitivity and is overall easier to work with and a new induction charger for smartphones has been added. The comfort is at par and the legroom ample is the second row. The third row is limited, but the comfort is what one would expect from the configuration in the segment.
Originally introduced in the Kia Rio, the UVO system is now offered with the Sorento, enabling users to remote start the Sorento, send out an SOS or have a technician remotely diagnose a trouble code, among other practical functions.
Kia has dropped the four-cylinder turbocharged engine, leaving only the naturally aspired 185 horsepower 2.4-litre engine, and the 3.3 litre V6 that comes with an output of 290 horsepower. The change will make choosing a Sorento easier, and make the 7-seat LX base variant more affordable, according to Kia. But we also know that the manufacturer was contemplating replacing this engine with a diesel or maybe a hybrid unit in the future. However, nothing has been confirmed.
Good driving dynamics, but no more turbo
On the road, the V6-equipped 2019 Kia Sorento SXL is nothing to rave about in terms of excitement and accelerations. But “excitement” and “thrills” are probably not on top of the average buyer’s priority list in this segment. The new eight-speed transmission does a decent job transferring the power to the AWD system, and let it be noted that a FWD configuration is available on the base version (LX).
The gearbox can be modulated thanks to a drive mode selector. Comfort is the default mode. In Eco mode, there’s nobody home (to be expected), while in Sport mode I was able to squeeze a little be of excitement during accelerations. The last mode is the Smart mode, which alternates between the other ones to adapt to your driving style.
Firmly throw the 2019 Sorento in a highway exit ramp and it will feel stiff, while providing more than adequate handling. The “slushy” electric steering from the outgoing model has been recalibrated and is now more direct. Bumps, potholes and crevasses are easily and comfortably conquered, thanks to a calibrated suspension that doesn’t seem to compromise on comfort given the handling capabilities.
And if the obstacle in question is of “Quebec Grade” – meaning it will cause mechanical or underbody damage – the braking system on the 2019 Sorento is quite efficient and will probably save the day.
Safety-wise, Kia added the Lane Keeping Assist System and Drive Alert system. There are many other systems available, like Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Advanced Smart Cruise Control, all depending on the variant you are interested in.
If transporting the family without craving for too much excitement is what you need, you can get a 7-seater AWD EX model with the four-cylinder 2.4 engine that is fairly well equipped (with leather seats) for $32,495, which is competitive in the segment. Climbing up the variants could get you in trouble, however, with an SXL V6 variant starting at $48,865. The base FWD variant (LX) can be yours for $27,995 and comes with heated front seats (cloth) and heated steering wheel.
The 2019 Kia Sorento kept its winning recipe, and needless to say, the SUV is an important model for Kia. It doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary, but this refreshed edition adds more pizazz to the value Kia has been offering in this SUV.