2016 Honda Pilot Midsize SUV
2016 Honda Pilot (American Honda Motor Co., Inc.)

Redesigned for 2016, the Honda Pilot and Kia Sorento have made the jump from middling to top contenders in our affordable midsize SUV rankings. Both are excellent choices, but there are some key differences between them that you should keep in mind as you decide whether the Pilot or Sorento is better for you.

While the Sorento’s base price is significantly lower than the Pilot’s, remember you’ll have to pay extra for the Sorento’s available third-row seat ($28,300). The Pilot also has the edge in cargo capacity and standard horsepower, but the Sorento’s available turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (240 horsepower) narrows the gap. If you want more power, you can opt for Kia’s 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 engine. In terms of available technology, the Sorento lacks the Pilot’s rear-seat entertainment system, but Kia’s SUV does offer a 360-degree parking camera system.

On the road, test drivers report that both the Pilot and Sorento ride comfortably and have poised handling in turns. Several note that the Sorento’s base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine feels underpowered, but they report that power is plentiful with the available turbocharged four-cylinder and V6 engines. The Pilot’s standard V6 has more than enough power for all situations, reviewers say.

2016 Kia Sorento
2016 Kia Sorento (Kia Motors America)

Inside, critics are impressed with the premium materials used in both the Pilot and Sorento, and they appreciate the space and comfort provided in the first two rows of seats. In the Sorento’s available third row, reviewers say that space is tight and only suitable for children. The Pilot’s third row is more spacious and can accommodate adults for short trips, critics report.

On the technology front, the Sorento’s infotainment system earns praise for its clear graphics and easy-to-use controls. Meanwhile, the Pilot’s touch-sensitive audio inputs are sometimes slow to respond, test drivers say, but they like the intuitive and responsive navigation system.

Due to very favorable reviews from the automotive press, the 2016 Honda Pilot currently ranks first in the class with an overall score of 8.8, while the 2016 Kia Sorento’s overall score of 8.5 puts it in fourth place. The Pilot is the better option if you prioritize cargo space or frequently need to seat people in the third row, but if you can live with a child-only third row, the Sorento’s pleasing driving experience and high-end interior make it worthy of your consideration.

If you’re interested in buying or leasing one of these SUVs, check out the latest Honda and Kia deals and incentives. When you’re ready to buy, use the U.S. News Best Price Program for guaranteed savings on your new SUV. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.