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2019 Kia Sorento Overview
In 2016, Kia redesigned the Sorento with an enlarged and refined version of the previous generation’s styling. Now, for 2019, Kia introduces a mid-cycle refresh of the current model.
Kia seems to have decided not to fiddle too much with the Sorento’s successful styling, so exterior changes are subtle. The mesh grille has a bolder, more-spaced out pattern flanked by new headlights, and the redone front bumper designs have new lighting elements. In the back, the 2019 Sorento features a reworked liftgate and tail lamps, including both the standard halogen and optional LED units, and bumpers with more chrome and detail-work than before.
The new Sorento’s cabin also features new improvements. A newer and more ergonomic 4-spoke steering wheel design replaces the previous 3-spoke design. The instrument cluster has been reworked with new graphics; the infotainment systems have been upgraded; and the center stack now features a dedicated readout display for units with dual-zone front climate control. Kia says the new liftgate increases cargo room slightly, and it definitely helps with the now-standard third-row seating. That said, the Sorento is certainly on the smaller side of 7-passenger vehicles, and its third-row seats are best used by children or short-legged individuals.
For 2019, the familiar 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder continues as the base engine with 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque along with an improved 6-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy for that engine increases by a figure or two, now sitting at 22 city, 29 highway, and 25 combined mpg with standard front-wheel drive, or 21, 26, and 23 with all-wheel-drive. The mid-spec turbocharged 2.0-liter engine from earlier models has been shown the door, leaving only the range-topping 3.3-liter V6 with 290 hp and 252 lb-ft. This engine gets a new 8-speed automatic transmission and also sees minor improvements to efficiency, which now stand at 19, 26, and 22 with FWD or 19, 24, and 21 with AWD. Notably, the V6 AWD variant is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds, which is high for this class of vehicle.
The Sorento spreads itself smartly across five basic trims: L, LX, EX, SX, and SX-Limited. L, the base trim, gets the 4-cylinder engine and only comes with AWD. Standard options include 17-inch alloy wheels, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED daytime running lights, auxiliary and USB input jacks, a second-row power outlet, Bluetooth connectivity, and an alarm. From there, buyers can add everything from navigation to fast-charging USB ports and even perforated Nappa leather. The Sorento even has the option to include a premium 630-watt Harmon Kardon sound system. Every Sorento also gets front, side, and side-curtain airbags as well as a reversing camera.
All trims above L offer AWD, and the V6 is optional on LX and standard on EX and higher. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic detection come bundled with LX and above, too. The mid-level trim, EX, introduces Kia’s suite of safety technologies as standard equipment, which is packed with rear distance sensors, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assistance, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. Front distance sensors, a surround-view camera, and low and high-beam assist are optional from there. The Sorento earned a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) as recently as 2018.
The current Sorento was a smart buy when it hit the scene for 2016 and is even more so now. Kia’s incremental improvements take an already-competitive vehicle and move it even higher. Most of all, since it’s bigger than most 5-passenger crossovers but not quite a full 7-passenger conveyance, the Sorento should be just perfect for plenty of families.
Kyree is new to the automotive journalism scene, but has voiced snarky public opinions about cars for quite some time. When he's not drooling over the latest European luxury sled, he's designing web experiences or writing backend code.
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