2019 Kia Sorento SXL AWD Review by David Colman +VIDEO
A 10-Star Rating for the New Sorento
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to The Auto Channel
Of the many mid-size SUVs we've driven, this Kia had the widest sweet spot in terms of practicality, performance and overall livability. Let's start out with that most minor of options, the $50 Cargo Net. Once we affixed its somewhat testy retainer clips in place to string it across the rear cargo area, that net spent an entire week in full employment. Everything from a trio of grocery bags to a slew of Xmas presents found a happy home suspended in that hammock. Its unexpected usefulness was just a microcosm of the beneficial way the Sorento ingratiates itself into your daily life.
The 3.3 liter direct gas injection V6 offers more than enough punch to insure safe passing on back roads or lane change maneuvers on the freeway. It's coupled to an 8-speed automatic gearbox which does a great job of multiplying the engine's 252lb.-ft. of torque for instant response at the throttle pedal. You can further sharpen throttle modulation by opting for the Sport setting via the console mounted driving mode button. As with most of the controls in the Sorento, you never have to take your eyes off the road to actuate your command. Same goes for the Harman Kardon entertainment system which is refreshingly easy to program initially and operate subsequently.
A major component of that positive driving experience is attributable to the Sorento's keen handling. At all four corners, Michelin light truck rated Premier LTX tires (235/55R19) promise long tread life (TW 620) but respond with surprising finesse when put to the test on curvy roads. Augmenting the Sorento's strengths in packaging and straight line performance, the suspension tune achieves a happy median between comfort and precision. The median can be jiggled in favor of handling by selecting the Sport setting from the drive mode system.
Spending $50,000 for a Sorento when you can buy an entry level example of the same nameplate for $26,000 may seem like a fool's errand. But making a decision on that basis alone would be fooling only yourself. Because, even at close to fifty grand, the Sorento SXL AWD is one of the best current SUV buys available today.
2019 KIA SORENTO SXL AWD
ENGINE: 3.3 liter V6, gas direct injection (GDL)
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 19MPG City/24MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $48,765
HYPES: JD Power "Highest Ranked Vehicle Appeal Among Mid-Size SUVs"
GRIPES: Middling Fuel Economy, Too Much Interior Chrome
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10