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We drive the 2019 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

by Ali Arsham
Thursday, December 5, 2019

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Kia Sorento SXL AWD
Kia Sorento SXL AWD
Kia’s best-selling Sorento has received some upgrades this year and Kia has been trying to make it more upscale.  We were intrigued so we just had to test it ourselves to see if their claims are just hype or for real. What we found was that just as in the past, the Sorento is still a great deal and its success is no accident.

Well proportioned, the Sorento goes for a refined and rugged exterior look, which was established when it underwent a complete redesign for the 2016 model year. The styling was in many ways inspired by the Cross GT concept unveiled in 2013. 

But a subtle facelift now gives Kia’s popular crossover a tighter, sharper appearance.  The revised front-end is headlined by a more artfully detailed radiator grille flanked by a new headlamp configuration, which offers full-LED lighting on upper trims – SX (optional) and SXL. 

The crossover’s familiar ice cube-style foglamps have also been redesigned featuring projection bulbs for EX and SX trims while SXL enjoys the more distinctive LEDs. 

The interior is what really makes the Sorento feel special.  The Sorento’s cabin maintains a premium look and feel thanks to a new steering wheel, new shifter knob and a revised instrument cluster with improved graphics.  The makeover also includes alterations to the air vents and the center console design. 

Even more important is that the materials used feel rich and soft which really gives a premium feel. We tested the Sorento next to an equivalent Lexus SUV and even though the Lexus was $20,000 more expensive, all of our testers preferred the Kia interior.

In terms of versatility, Sorento offers standard 40/20/40 second-row folding seats and 50/50 third-row folding seats.  Access to the third row is easier than most similar SUVs and room for adults in the third row is above average.  Our top of the line SXL had heated and vented front seats as well as heated second row seats.

Front passenger compartment
Front passenger compartment
SUV buyers in this segment prefer their vehicles with the latest in technology.  The Sorento is loaded with it including an upgraded navigation system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, at least on the higher trim levels.

You also get a wireless phone charging pad which makes life much simpler. Our SXL Sorento also came with a 630-watt, 10-speaker Harman Kardon stereo system with an 11-channel amplifier with surround sound.

The SXL comes with a V6 engine as standard while lower models have a four cylinder as standard. The 3.3 liter V6 uses an 11.5:1 compression ratio to produce 290 hp yet only requires 87 octane fuel. 

The engine is strong and sounds very smooth even when it is pushed.  It is connected to a newly available 8-speed automatic transmission. This pairing also helps Sorento deliver a towing capacity of up to 5,000 lbs. when equipped with AWD. 

Ample rear cargo room
Ample rear cargo room
The advanced AWD system is designed to automatically route power to the wheel with the most traction.  When certain adverse conditions call for more sure-footed capability, the 4WD Lock Mode splits engine power evenly between the front and rear drive shafts.

The system also provides drivers the added stability of Torque Vector Cornering Control (TVCC). The TVCC system is activated when yaw and steering sensors detect unwanted understeer. The system actually works very well and you will notice it if you start driving the Sorento like you stole it. Most buyers will probably skip the AWD and select the 2WD model which improves fuel economy and saves you on the purchase price.

Kia has worked hard to stiffen up the Sorento chassis and claims that 53 percent of the unit-body consists of advanced high-strength steel. 

Liberal application of industrial strength adhesives, the use of dual-seal lip joints as well as laser and large diameter welding techniques combine to make the Sorento feel solid and strong.

Rear seat room
Rear seat room
Sorento prices start out at $26,290 for the 2WD L model.  Our top of the line AWD SXL was $46,490.  That extra $20,000 buys you a lot of luxury features but this is one of the rare cases that even the top of the line model is a bargain.  The Sorento SXL may have a Kia label on it but it feels premium and if you compare it to similar offerings from premium labels you will find that they are offering a great product at an even better price.

Specifications

Exterior

  • Body
  • Body Style: Sport Utility
  • Dimensions
  • Wheelbase (in.): 109.4
  • Length, Overall (in.): 189
  • Width, Max w/o mirrors (in.): 74.4
  • Height, Overall (in.): 66.5
  • Doors & Windows
  • Rear Defrost
  • Privacy Glass
  • Power Windows
  • Exterior Features
  • Sun/Moon Roof
  • Panoramic Roof
  • Sun/Moonroof
  • Running Boards (Optional)
  • Rear Spoiler
  • Measurements
  • Base Curb Weight (lbs.): 4343
  • Tires & Wheels
  • Tires - Front Performance
  • Tires - Rear Performance
  • Compact Spare Tire
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
  • Chrome Wheels
  • Wheel Locks (Optional)
  • Towing
  • Trailer Hitch Receiver (Optional)
  • Maximum Trailering Capacity (lbs.): 5000

Interior

  • Convenience & Comfort
  • Alarm
  • Back-Up Camera
  • Cruise Control
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Vehicle Anti-Theft System
  • Fog Lamps
  • Auto-Off Headlights
  • Interior Cargo Shade (Optional)
  • Keyless Start
  • Luggage Rack (Optional)
  • Rear Parking Aid
  • Power Liftgate
  • Hands-Free Liftgate
  • Remote Engine Start (Optional)
  • Adjustable Steering Wheel
  • Steering Wheel Controls
  • Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel
  • Heated Steering Wheel
  • Trip Computer
  • Remote Trunk Release
  • Universal Garage Door Opener
  • Intermittent Wipers
  • Rain Sensing Wipers
  • Variable Speed Intermittent Wipers
  • Keyless Entry
  • Power Door Locks
  • Electrochromic rearview mirror
  • Heated Mirrors
  • Mirror Memory
  • Power Mirrors
  • Power Folding Mirrors
  • Driver Vanity Mirror
  • Driver Illuminated Vanity Mirror
  • Passenger Vanity Mirror
  • Passenger Illuminated Visor Mirror
  • Power Steering
  • Dimensions
  • Passenger Capacity: 7
  • Passenger Volume (cu. ft.): 154.2
  • Front Head Room (in.): 39.5
  • Front Leg Room (in.): 44.1
  • Front Shoulder Room (in.): 59.1
  • Front Hip Room (in.): 56.7
  • Second Head Room (in.): 39.3
  • Second Leg Room (in.): 39.4
  • Second Shoulder Room (in.): 58
  • Second Hip Room (in.): 56.4
  • Third Leg Room (in.): 31.7
  • Cargo Volume to Seat 1 (cu. ft.): 73
  • Cargo Volume to Seat 2 (cu. ft.): 38
  • Cargo Volume to Seat 3 (cu. ft.): 11.3
  • Entertainment
  • AM/FM Stereo
  • Auxiliary Audio Input
  • MP3 Player
  • Satellite Radio
  • Premium Sound System
  • Hard Disk Drive
  • Smart Device Integration
  • Heating & Cooling
  • Climate Control
  • Dual Zone A/C
  • A/C
  • Rear A/C
  • Navigation & Communication
  • Navigation System
  • Onboard Hands-Free Communications System
  • Wireless Cell Phone Hookup
  • Seats
  • Leather Seats
  • Additional Rear Seat
  • Cooled Driver Seat
  • Heated Front Seats
  • Heated Rear Seat
  • Driver Lumbar
  • Passenger Lumbar
  • Seat Memory
  • Power Driver Seat
  • Power Passenger Seat
  • Pass-Through Rear Seat
  • 2nd Row Bench Seat
  • Bucket Seats 

Mechanical

  • Engine & Performance
  • All Wheel Drive
  • V6 Cylinder Engine
  • Engine Type: Regular Unleaded V-6
  • Displacement: 3.3 L/204
  • Horsepower (Net @ RPM): 290 @ 6400
  • Torque (Net @ RPM): 252 @ 5200
  • Transmission: Automatic w/OD
  • Turning diameter: 37.3
  • Fuel
  • Gasoline Fuel
  • EPA Fuel Economy Est - City (MPG): 19
  • EPA Fuel Economy Est - Hwy (MPG): 24
  • Fuel Tank Capacity, Approx (gal.): 18.8
  • Suspension
  • Suspension Type - Front: Strut
  • Suspension Type - Rear: Multi-Link
  • Suspension Type - Front (Cont.): Strut
  • Suspension Type - Rear (Cont.): Multi-Link
  • Transmission
  • Automatic
  • Automatic Transmission w/Manual Mode
  • 8-Speed Automatic 

Safety

  • Airbags
  • Driver Air Bag
  • Passenger Air Bag
  • Front Head Air Bag
  • Rear Head Air Bag
  • Front Side Air Bag
  • Brakes
  • 4-Wheel ABS
  • 4-Wheel Disc Brakes
  • Safety Features
  • Brake Assist
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Daytime Running Lights
  • Child Safety Locks
  • Integrated Turn Signal Mirrors
  • Traction Control
  • Blind Spot Monitor
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Lane Keeping Assist
  • Cross-Traffic Alert

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