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Exploring the 2019 KIA Sorento

A silver 2019 KIA Sorento is driving through the city.

In a world growing evermore saturated with competitive crossovers and SUVs of various sizes, it goes without saying that it has gotten progressively more difficult for any offering to stand out. But the 2019 KIA Sorento almost seems to make it look easy and, after almost two decades and three generations, the Sorento only seems to have gotten better with time.

Having enjoyed a refreshing facelift back in 2018, the Sorento is currently enjoying a lull before (what we expect to be) the introduction of a next-gen offering. But with that refreshed fascia, grille, and light design there are no real signs of fatigue visible in the Sorento. All that stands out is the quiet confidence of an inarguably on-brand offering, deserving of all the recognition that it has received as-of-late.

And we’ll get to those awards in a bit, but first, let’s take a look at the Sorento in its current form and appreciate everything that it brings to the table.

Sorento 101

The 2019 KIA Sorento is priced to start around $26,290 MSRP and is served up in six trim levels: (base) L, LX, LX V6, EX V6, SX and SX Limited. Of course, the ascension up those trim levels means enhancement of the interior cabin (in terms of material choices and accents) as well the infotainment system and assistive safety features, but each and everyone is deserving of exploration. In fact, it’s the diversity of the lineup that reassures us of KIA’s commitment to serve something up that meets the unique demands of every lifestyle and budget.

This might be best exemplified by Kelley Blue Book’s overall rating of 4.7 (out of 5) which assesses the Sorento’s (i) Performance (ii) Comfort (iii) Styling (iv) Value (v) Quality and (vi) Reliability in the ‘high fours.’ While aesthetics will always be subjective, there’s little point in arguing the Sorento as a confident offering that aims to tick all the boxes required of a superior offering.

Inside Out

Designed for easy entrance and embarkation, the KIA Sorento is immediately accessible while offering ample comfort for its passengers.

As a three-row crossover, there’s a certain expectation of spaciousness lodged in the mind of the average consumer. Of course, that expectation is usually met with the realization that any third row is unlikely to offer comfort on-par with the second row. In this sense, the Sorento finds itself teetering upon the precipice, but not with the assured sense of peril endured by other automakers. But while that third-row may not be suitable for passengers of every height or build, it is near-perfect for both children and modestly sized adults.

Regardless of which seat you’re sitting in the cabin manages to feel both expansive and intimate. The former comes as a result of the vehicle’s actual dimensions, while the latter is an illusion that comes emphasized by the display, dash and center stack that steers away from many of today’s design trappings.

A slight bow in the dashboard feels as though it pulls the sides of the cabin inwards, making the Sorento feel cozier than it actually is. But this is not a negative. It speaks to some drivers’ appreciation of a more initiative cabin experience, without actually reducing the physical space allotted. In addition, the modest sizing of the touchscreen interface and physical controls help to create a more open feel than many competitors, over inundated by added functionalities, are able to achieve.

But with an understanding of the Sorento’s interior space, only serves to make its exterior design more appreciable. Less vertical than the likes of the Honda Pilot, the Sorento has a lower stance, almost reminiscent of a wagon-styling versus that of a traditional crossover. It helps to convey a sense of utilitarian can-do (even if that might not actually be true).

Performance

Depending on the trim configuration selected, there are two powertrains found under its hood. Both the L and LX trim levels come powered by a 2.4-liter 16-valve inline-four cylinder engine paired with an electronically-controlled 6-speed automatic transmission. Delivering 185 hp, 178 lb-ft of torque and 29 mpg (highway, 22 city)  the Sorento proves to be a capable (if not modest) performer right off the proverbial bat.

But it’s the jump up to a 3.3-liter 24-valve V6 with electronically-controlled 8-speed transmissions that best shows the Sorento showing up to play. Channeling 290 hp, 252 lb-ft of torque, and delivering 26 mpg (highway, 19 city) the Sorento’s modestly becomes confidence. And the ever-present option of an all-wheel drive upgrade only serves to enhance the Sorento’s appeal.

Well-Awarded

Especially in recent years, KIA’s lineup has found itself widely-recognized and well-awarded, and the Sorento is hardly an exception.

In 2018 the Sorento earned its second consecutive recognition from JD Power & Associates as their ‘Highest Ranked Midsize SUV in Initial Quality’ noting that it received a lower rate of problems reported by new owners than any competitive offerings. This was further complemented by its earning the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick, confirming its equipment’s ability to offer superior crash prevention (recognition which carried over into the 2019 honors, as well).

A silver 2019 KIA Sorento has the doors removed to show the deployed airbag placement.

But 2019 also introduced new accolades from U.S. News and World Report, with the Sorento being named ‘Best 3-Row SUV for the Money’ recognized for its value and outstanding ownership experience.

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out the fact that KIA—as a whole—ranks as J.D. Powers’ pick for “Highest Ranked Mass Market Brand in Initial Quality, 4 Years in a Row”. Beating out every competitive brand from Ford to Mitsubishi, KIA’s lineup delivers the assurance of fewer issues reported by new owners and has done so consistently for four model years running.

Appreciable in the eyes of any consumer, these only serve to enhance the value proposition of the Sorento beyond the selling points that are already apparent.

KIA Warranty

Above we touch on the assurances offered by KIA’s reputation in the eyes of the industry but, to KIA customers, it’s their celebrated (and industry-leading) warranty coverage that delivers a real sense of assurance.

This coverage consists of:

  • 10-Year / 100,000-Mile Limited Powertrain
  • 5-Year / 60,000-Mile Limited Basic Warranty
  • 5-Year / 100,000-Mile Limited Anti-Perforation Warranty
  • 5-Year / 60,000-Mile Roadside Assistance Plan

What Do You Think of the Sorento?

As far as three-row crossovers with seating for seven go, the Sorento might just be one of the best (yet easily overlooked) options out there. While others seem fixated on a kitchen-sink mentality, trying to equip their crossovers with a bit of something for every kind of passenger, the Sonata feels more refined in its approach.

From its modest exterior styling to KIA’s less-is-more approach to cabin design, the Sorento seems to be comfortable in its own skin. Impeccably on-brand, it knows exactly what it is, and is willing to stand upon those merits. The awards speak for themselves, telling the story of a crossover that is both safe and unlikely to introduce unnecessary stress into your lives. We for one, like the Sorento quite a bit. What do you think?

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