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2019 Kia Sorento Performance Review


Performance: 7.1

The 2019 Kia Sorento prioritizes a comfortable ride, and it feels smooth, even over rough roads. That comes at the expense of handling, however. Several rivals feel more agile than this Kia. The Sorento's base engine is fuel-efficient but occasionally lethargic, while the V6 takes a small hit on gas mileage to deliver more power.

  • "Whether you're choosing a base model with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, … or one of the higher-end models with the V6, you'll likely be more than satisfied with the way the Kia Sorento drives." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • The 3.3L V6 does an admirable job of keeping the Sorento on the pace, but this is a car that is far more composed on a highway cruise than it is on back roads. The Sorento's six-speed automatic doesn't appreciate being rushed, nor is it particularly eager to drop gears when called upon to do so. For this reason, the Sorento can be somewhat frustrating to drive briskly on a back road, where the transmission finds the highest gear possible almost immediately and then takes its sweet time kicking down for more oomph." -- Left Lane News (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The Sorento comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 185 horsepower. It's mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. This engine mostly gets the job done for daily driving, but it can feel strained if you have a lot of people or cargo with you. In previous years, Kia offered a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but it is not available for 2019.

For more power, you can upgrade to a 3.3-liter V6 that produces 290 horsepower and pairs with an eight-speed automatic transmission (which is new for 2019). The 105 extra horsepower really makes a difference, as the V6 moves the Sorento fairly easily even in higher-stress situations like climbing hills. The new eight-speed transmission delivers smooth, timely shifts.

The Sorento earns an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway with its base engine. Those are some of the best ratings in the class. The V6's numbers dip to 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.

This Kia can tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. That's about the same maximum towing capacity you'll get with many midsize SUVs.

  • "The larger V6 has 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque, and the added power helps the Sorento handle the steep grades. A new eight-speed automatic always seems to keep the engine in the best gear, resulting in a smooth, confident driving demeanor. If you live in hilly places, the V6 is definitely worth considering." -- CNET
  • In base form, the Sorento has adequate power and better fuel economy. If your budget allows you to step up to the V6, though, you'll be treated to a more satisfying driving experience thanks to its 100-plus horsepower advantage. This is especially relevant if you drive at higher elevation, since altitude saps engine power. The new 8-speed transmission tied to the V6 works well and offers smooth transitions." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The base 2.4-liter 4-cylinder (185 hp, 178 lb-ft) carries over and will continue to be a bit overmatched by a vehicle of the Sorento's size -- especially when loaded with people and stuff. It also only nets an increase of two mpg combined over the V6. That equals a savings of $150 per year on average." -- Autotrader

Handling and Braking

Kia designed the Sorento as a family SUV first and foremost, and they delivered. The Sorento rides comfortably even over rough roads – some critics comment that you have to get a luxury SUV to enjoy a smoother ride. The Sorento doesn't feel overmatched on winding roads, but its handling rates as competent and composed rather than sporty, and some rivals – like the Mazda CX-9 – provide more driving enjoyment. Front-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

  • Regardless of engine, the Sorento's driving dynamics are tuned for comfort rather than sport, which is just fine for a family-hauler like this. … The Kia gets the job done without any fuss, handling winding roads with confidence, but it's not exactly what I'd call engaging. It's also worth mentioning that Kia's all-wheel drive system has a center locker. By distributing equal power to its front and rear wheels, the Sorento should be able to climb its way out of sticky situations." -- CNET
  • The suspension remains pleasantly comfortable, even with big wheels, and we didn't detect any nautical rebound over the bumps and rises during our test drive. We also found it to be quite comfortable during an extended stint riding in the back seat -- there's no reason to think the kids won't be happy. In terms of handling, the Sorento is competent, but no one will ever describe it as sharp or engaging." -- Autotrader
  • "The Sorento has one of the most refined rides of any non-luxury-brand crossover. Impacts are well-cushioned yet ride motions remain disciplined. This Kia glides serenely over patchy pavement, giving it a distinctly premium feel." -- Edmunds (2018)
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2019 Kia Sorento

MSRP: $26,290 - $46,490

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