Road Test: 2019 Kia Sorento SXL

Refined, rugged and roomy, the Kia Sorento remains as capable as ever for the 2019 model year. With a number of upgrades inside and out for 2019, Sorento remains at the front of the class for those looking for a crossover with a bit more capability while still offering the luxury and capacity to haul a number of people and their cargo at the sametime.

The eye-catching exterior of our SXL tester really stood out in a crowded parking lot. The subtle facelift now gives Sorento a tighter, sharper appearance.  The revised front-end is headlined by a more artfully detailed radiator grille flanked by a new headlamp configuration with beautiful all LED lighting.  The headlights are incredible bright, reach a far distance, and the automatic high-beams are fantastic.

The familiar ice cube-style foglamps have also been redesigned to be even more distinctive.

The rear fascia has a new bumper design, sleeker LED taillamps, a revised liftgate and a sportier muffler tip.  Handsome 19-inch wheels round out the changes.

Spacious and sophisticated, the Sorento’s cabin has a premium look and feel. The steering wheel and shifter are new and more tactile, and the instrument cluster has been updated with improved graphics.  The makeover also includes new air vents and an improved center console design.

In terms of versatility, Sorento’s 40/20/40 second-row folding seats and 50/50 third-row folding seats are perfect for moving cargo and long items, yet still providing space for up to 7 people when needed.

The luxury of heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a power driver’s seat thigh extension, and power lumbar for the front passenger are hard to find in this segment. All equate to added comfort on short and long drives. The supply Nappa leather sure helps too.

Out back, cargo volume is an incredible 73 cubic feet, providing an abundance of space for weekend getaways, family trips, or a visit to the home improvement store.

The 2019 Kia Sorento is loaded with tech. The infotainment system is Kia’s latest and greatest, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and works perfectly. At the base of the center console is a wireless charging tray, so that leads us to believe wireless CarPlay is coming soon (especially with WiFi built into the system).

Music aficionados will be happy with the 630-watt, 10-speaker new Harman Kardon system with an 11-channel amplifier, Clari-Fi technology, and  QuantumLogic Surround Sound technology.  Clari–Fi works in real-time to rebuild audio details lost in digitally compressed music, while QuantumLogic extracts signals from the original recording and redistributes them into an authentic, multidimensional soundstage for playback that is clear, refined and full of detail.  Ultimately, the result is a more robust and enjoyable listening experience that we clearly heard.

Out on the open road, our SXL AWD tester was quite peppy thanks to the 3.3-liter V6 under the hood. A strong 290 horses are pumped through an 8-speed automatic transmission, and the power delivery is smooth as silk. Towing capacity is 5,000 lbs.

Fuel economy is rated at 19 mpg city, 24 highway, 21 combined and we were able to average an impressive 25 mpg in a week of mixed driving.

We’re impressed by Kia’s suite of driver assist systems (ADAS). It includes Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS), Smart Cruise Control (SCC), Blind Spot Collision (BCW), Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning and Surround View Monitor (SVM), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) and Driver Attention Warning (DAW).  DAW is designed to detect when driver concentration has waned by monitoring vehicle and driving behavior. If it detects driver fatigue or inattentive driving practices, the system issues visual and audible warnings, including a coffee cup icon in the instrument cluster.

The LKA system really impressed by actively steering the Sorento around highway bends; Kia’s LKA system is really superior to other systems in our experience, but like all assist systems, should not be relied upon.

Sorento rides smoothly, comfortable, and quietly. There’s a feel of heft and security inside, a characteristic often reserved for much more premium vehicles.

We did have the chance to evaluate the AWD system in inclement weather, but a 4WD Lock button splits engine power evenly between the front and rear drive shafts, which is more proactive then reactive.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 9
Braking 10
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 7
Noise 9
Headlights 10
Interior Fit and Finish 10
Seating 9
Visibility 8
Gauges and Controls 9
Infotainment 10
Crash-Avoidance 10
Total Score 92

Make: Kia
Model: Sorento
Trim Level: SXL AWD
Engine: 3.3L V6
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Options: Cross Bars, Cargo Net and Tray

Base Price: $46,490
As-Tested Price: $47,870

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