The 2019 Kia Sorento is a premium Global Class SUV that happens to be Kia Motors America?s best selling SUV. For the 2019 model year, it shows up with modest visual exterior enhancements both coming and going, displaying new front and rear fascias. New technology features have been added as well as with available Driver Attention Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Harman Kardon?s QuantumLogic? Surround Sound and wireless charging.
The Sorento retains its refined and rugged exterior presence, that was established when it underwent a complete redesign for the 2016 model year, which was in many ways inspired by the Cross GT concept of 2013.
The radiator grille is artfully detailed and flanked by a new headlamp configuration, that offers full-LED lighting for upper trims. The crossover?s familiar ice cube-like foglamps have also been redesigned featuring projection bulbs for EX and SX trims while the upscale SXL comes with more distinctive LEDs. The Sorento?s front fascia showcases a newly sculpted bumper design that generates a more aggressive overall expression. The rear fascia of the crossover has also been upgraded with: a new bumper design; sleeker taillamps (LED bulbs for EX trim and higher); a revised liftgate and a sportier muffler tip.
This latest Kia Sorento iteration projects a tighter, more athletic image that rolls on three newly designed wheels, ranging from 17 to 19 inches, depending upon the trim level chosen.
VERSATILITY AND CONVENIENCE
Moving into the spacious cabin, the Sorento now comes with 7-passenger 3-row seating as standard fare for all trim levels, providing 40/20/40 second-row folding seats and 50/50 third-row folding seats for added versatility. The seating system is designed to offer optimum comfort and ideal seating positions for every occupant. For added luxury, also available are heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, 14-way power driver and 8-way power passenger seats, driver?s seat thigh extension and a 4-way headrest with one-button adjustment. And for 2019, Sorento now offers 2-way powered lumbar support for the front passenger on SX and SXL trims.
Standard luxury features and amenities continue to be available across five trim levels ? L, LX, EX, SX and SXL. A new, more tactile steering wheel, new shifter knob and a revised instrument cluster appears with improved graphics. Sorento also now offers a maximum cargo volume of 73 cu.-ft. accessed through the new rear liftgate, providing space for essentials and active-lifestyle equipment without sacrificing rear-passenger room. In addition, an easy-folding lever allows various seating arrangements and flexible luggage space.
The Sorento?s performance report card gets a plus with its newly available 8- speed automatic transmission that mates to its available 3.3-liter V6 and its revised 6-speed gearbox. The 8-speed automatic delivers a smoother and more seamless driving experience. The FWD- or available AWD configurations are driven by a choice of two engines: a 2.4-liter inline-4 GDI engine or a 3.3-liter V6 GDI engine. The 2.0-liter turbo I-4 is no longer available for the 2019 model year, however a new diesel engine with the latest emission controls is currently under development.
The carryover 2.4-liter engine mates to a revised and more efficient electronically controlled six-speed automatic gearbox featuring Sportmatic? shifting and it delivers 185 horsepower. The Sorento?s 3.3-liter V6 brings 290 horses while connecting to the newly available 8-speed automatic transmission shared with the brand?s Cadenza premium sedan. This version Sorento is capable of towing up to 5,000 lbs. in the AWD configuration.
The Sorento?s former Drive Mode Select setup has been replaced by the new Smart Shift & Drive feature across all trim levels. This feature automatically activates the appropriate optimum drive mode ? Eco, Sport or Smart ? based on driving style or may be set by driver preference.
CONNECTIVITY AND INFOTAINMENT
The 2019 Kia Sorento comes loaded with technology, including an upgraded AVN 5.0 navigation system5 with Android Auto6 and Apple CarPlay7 offered with higher level trims. The base level L trim comes with a standard 7-inch user interface, also equipped with Android Auto6 and Apple CarPlay. Eliminating the need for a charging cord, there?s now an available wireless charging tray for compatible Android6 devices, as well as Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone X.
In terms of audio technology, the available premium sound system suits Sorento?s upscale persona. The 630-watt, 10-speaker new Harman Kardon? branded stereo system with an 11-channel amplifier features Clari-Fi technology2 and newly integrated QuantumLogic? Surround Sound technology.2 Clari?Fi works in real-time rebuilding audio details lost in digitally compressed music.
Kia?s suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems is now standard on Sorento EX trims and higher. In addition to Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS)1, Smart Cruise Control (SCC)1, Blind Spot Collision (BCW)1, Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning1 and Surround View Monitor (SVM)1, Sorento now offers Lane Keeping Assist (LKA)1 and available Driver Attention Warning (DAW).4 DAW is designed to detect when driver concentration has waned by monitoring vehicle and driving behavior. If it detects driver fatigue or inattentive driving practices, the system issues visual and audible warnings, including a coffee cup icon in the instrument cluster, to encourage the driver to take a break. LKA helps alert the driver and can even steer the vehicle back to its original position should the system detect the vehicle drifting out of its lane.
In addition, all Sorento models continue to offer standard active safety features such as Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control System, Brake Assist System, Hill-start Assist Control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Antilock Braking System. Additional technologies such as Roll Over Mitigation and Cornering Brake Control on AWD models are designed to help improve dynamic control.
The available Rack-mounted Motor Driven Power Steering enhances steering response and improves handling.
Sorento?s advanced AWD system automatically routes power to the wheel with the most traction. The system also provides the added stability of Torque Vector Cornering Control , which is activated when yaw and steering sensors detect unwanted understeer.
My test Sorento came in SXL trim in the AWD configuration, powered by the transversely-mounted front 3.3-liter, DOHC-24-valve V-6 engine with dual CVVT and GDI. Its horsepower rating was 290 at 6,400 rpm, with torque rated at 252 at 5,200. Power was geared to the full-time AWD System via the electronically?controlled 8-speed automatic Sportmatic transmission with overdrive. The exterior was sprayed in Snow White Pearl metallic while the interior was executed in Black. The base sticker read $46,490., while the final tally came to $48,765 after adding for the optional features and Inland Freight and Handling charge.
Driving the enhanced 2019 Kia Sorento powered by the 3.3-liter V6 provided a most pleasurable experience. The engine provided satisfying performance levels in terms of acceleration.
The transmission shifts smoothly ? almost imperceptibly in either fully automatic mode or in manual mode, which proves to be somewhat more responsive.
The interior ambience and the ride quality are quite pleasing ? not too firm and not too soft. Handling characteristics consist of an on-center steering feel and a planted stability.
In the final scheme of things, the 2019 Kia Sorento SXL AWD, delivers a solid value in a package that is not only visual appealing, but is capable of fulfilling a wide variety of functional desires and individual requirements providing a great deal of confidence and security.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2019 Kia Sorento SXL V6 AWD
Base Price: $46,490.
Price as Tested: $48,765.
Engine Type and Size: 3.3-liter, DOHC-24-valve V-6 with dual CVVT and GDI.
Horsepower (bhp): 290 @ 6,400 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 252 @ 5,200 rpm
Transmission: Electronically ?controlled 8-speed automatic, overdrive with Sportmatic.
Drive Train: Transversely-mounted front engine / full-time AWD
Suspension: Front – Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs, dual flow damper shock absorbers and stabilizer bar.
Rear – Independent, Multi-link, stabilizer bar, dual flow damper shock absorbers
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with ABS, ESC, VSM, HAVC and TPMS.
Tires: Michelin Premiere LTX 235/55 R10 mounted on 5-chrome ?Y?-spoke alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 109.4 inches
Length Overall: 189.0 inches
Width: 74.4 inches
Height: 66.5 inches ? with roof rails.
Curb Weight: 4,101-4,343 lbs.
Turning Circle: 37.3 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 18.8 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 19 mpg city / 24-mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: Not listed
0 – 60 mph: Not tested
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.