I recently had a second opportunity to drive a 2019 Kia Sorento. That opportunity came when I was relegated to the role of passenger due to some surgery. I rarely sit anywhere but behind the steering wheel, so was able to look around — inside and out — more than is normally the case.
The experience re-affirmed my opinion that the three-row Sorento was a worthy contender in the mid-size crossover segment. Canadian consumers agree. For the first quarter of 2019 the Sorento (3,691 sold), was runner-up in the segment to the Chevy Equinox (4,089) and ahead of the Nissan Murano (3,022), Toyotas Highlander (2,705), Dodge Journey (2,615), Ford Explorer (2,540) and Honda Passport (2,106).
There are many reasons to like this vehicle. Among them an upscale interior, a smooth and pleasant ride, proven quality and reliability, competitive price and a third row of seats. Most of the others offer only two.
A tour of the spec sheet reveals that the Sorento suffers in terms of cargo space. But there is a caveat — that third row. Cargo space comparisons involve the room behind the last row of seats. Fold the third row down and the Sorento is near the top of the pack.
Space in that third row is tight. But the seats are there for that occasion when more than five are needed. The others don’t have that choice. If you need a bigger third row, Kia has the new Telluride to fill that requirement. The first and second row seats are comfy, and there is competitive head and legroom in that all-important middle row.
Value is an important part of any new vehicle consideration and here Kia has another card to play. Even the base trim level has a lengthy list of standard equipment. Each step up the trim ladder brings more and maintains an advantage over the competition. The current iteration of the Sorento appeared as a 2016 model. It has been given a facelift for 2019, along with a healthy dose of driver assistance features and one of the most user-friendly infotainment systems in the industry. The V6 engine is now coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission and, more importantly to some Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard equipment.
Acoustic glass for the windshield and front windows is part of a concerted effort to keep wind and road noise out. It works! This is a very quiet vehicle at highway speeds. No need for raised voices — unless smaller occupants in the back are getting out of hand!
It’s not all roses though. The 3.3-litre V6 is silky smooth and provides more than ample performance. But the Sorento is not a fuel sipper.
It is also not a vehicle you’d chose to tackle twisty roads. The ride is note-worthy on primary and secondary road surfaces. It soaks up all but the nastiest imperfections. But pushed hard into an off-ramp or turn, understeer and lean set in early.
But, this is a family vehicle and I suspect there are very few, if any owners, who would place athleticism as a higher priority than ride and comfort. What will be appreciated, is the sophisticated all-wheel-drive system that can be tailored to your taste or needs through a console mounted selector.
The 2019 Kia Sorento is a good-looking, well-equipped family hauler with award-winning quality and reliability.
Add in an extra row of seats and more-than-competitive level of features and you have good reason to include it on your list when shopping for mid-size family vehicle.
Model: 2019 Kia Sorento EX Premium
Engine: 3.3-litre, V6, 290 horsepower, 252 lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 12.5/ 9.7
Length: 4,800 mm
Width: 1,890 mm
Wheelbase: 2,779 mm
Weight: 1,975 kg
Price: $43,250 as tested, including freight
Standard equipment (EX Premium): heated front seats, power windows, remote keyless entry, dual zone automatic climate control, leather seats, panoramic sunroof, power liftgate, front and rear park sensors, blind spot detection, 18-inch alloy wheels, rear cross traffic alert, windshield wiper de-icer, privacy tint glass, automatic power folding and heated mirrors with integrated signal repeaters, drive mode select, wireless connectivity, wireless phone charger, smart key with push button seven passenger seating, power driver’s seat, start, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration,
Options on test vehicle: none