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2019 Kia Sorento Review by Larry Nutson - It's E15 Approved

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2019 Kia Sorento Review

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

My last drive in the Kia Sorento was in the 2016 model. I was looking forward to reacquainting myself with Kia’s midsize, 3-row, 7-passenger crossover.

What I wasn’t looking forward to was the polar vortex that hit Chicago in late January. Ironically, the Sorento I would be driving had an exterior finish, very appropriately, in Snow White Pearl.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Like many parts of the U.S., the extreme cold gave us in Chicago a below zero minus-23ºF morning with wind chills hovering in the neighborhood of 48-below. We did not venture out that day, both because of the danger and nearly everything was closed.

The next day it warmed up! Ha! I made my way to the Sorento, brushed off the snow, hit the start button and the Sorento came alive. It was minus-13ºF.

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The heated seats and heated steering wheel were immediately put into service.

Since my drive in the 2016 Sorento, which was all-new, Kia has made some updates. Now for 2019 there are new front and rear fascias and a decidedly more upscale cabin that integrates newly-added technology. A new 630-watt, 10-speaker Harman Kardon QuantumLogic surround sound audio system is available for concert-hall listening

Ever more Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are becoming available on new vehicles today. For 2019 Kia has added Driver Attention Warning and Lane Keep Assist to an already available array.

On the powertrain side, the available 3.3-liter V6 is now paired with a newly available 8-speed automatic transmission.

The Sorento is available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive configurations. There’s a choice of a 185-horsepower 2.4-L four cylinder paired with a six speed automatic, or a 290-horsepower 3.3-L V6 mated to a new 8-speed automatic.

Five trim levels – L, LX, EX, SX and SXL, are offered to suite your budget, taste and needs. The 4-cylinder is only offered on the L and LX with the V6 on the LX, EX, SX and SXL. Prices start at $26,290 and rise up to $46,490.

For my deep-freeze test drive I drove the top-line SXL with AWD with a base price of $46,490. Options and shipping totaled to $48,765. This top price might seem high but it’s within the realm of other competitive mainstream 3-row SUVs similarly equipped.

Like my home, I have to like the way a vehicle looks on the outside but most important is its livability inside. The Sorento has a comfortable interior; it’s easy to get in and out; outward visibility is unrestricted and good, plus its quite spacious. Controls and switches are well placed and there’s good storage space. Overall, the 2019 Sorento has a premium feel about the cabin.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Technology abounds with an 8-inch touch screen, navigation system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a number of USB ports and a wireless charging pad. Keeping with old-school design, but with what consumers want, there are knobs for audio volume and tuning. I think as we progress we will move away from touch-screens which are a cause of distraction and go to hand operated controllers to access functions shown on a screen.

The V6 with its new 8-speed transmission has good performance delivering smooth acceleration with minimum interior engine noise. With all the gear-steps, a small step into the throttle brings a downshift and plenty of go.

EPA test-cycle ratings for the V6-AWD are 21 mpg combined, or 4.8 gallons per 100 miles, with 19 city mpg and 24 highway mpg. I didn’t do any fuel economy measurements with the extreme cold that really zaps the MPGs. The best EPA ratings are the front-drive 4-cylinder at 22 city mpg and 29 highway mpg. The 18.8 gallon fuel tank that is equipped with both engines should make for a good, long highway cruise.

The Sorento has nice manners over pock-marked, pot-holed city streets. Even with the 19-inch wheels that were equipped on my media-loaner there’s enough tire sidewall to cushion most road imperfections. Handling is confident with good overall ride quality.

I previously mentioned new ADAS equipment. The Sorento can be had with a 360-degree camera, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, blind spot alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control with stop and go. I encourage you to seriously consider purchasing this worthwhile technology that could save you from a crash.

The rear cargo can be accessed with a hands-free power liftgate. The second row seat slides to vary legroom and the backrests recline. Cargo capacity is up tp 72 cu.ft., plus there’s some under-floor storage, and you can tow up to 5,000 lbs. with the V6-AWD.

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More information and details on the 2019 Kia Sorento and the entire Kia model range can be found at

Kia gets high ratings in quality surveys and is recognized as one of the 100 Best Global Brands. The Sorento is Kia’s top selling model. For the first two months of this year Kia sales are up in what is generally a down market.

By the way, a new diesel engine with the latest emission control technology is currently under development by Kia for the Sorento. Stay tuned!

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© 2019 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy