2019 Kia Sorento SXL V6 AWD Review - Head In The Clouds
2019 Kia Sorento SXL V6 AWD
The three-row crossover has quickly become the bellybutton car. Everyone’s got one. Much as the full-size station wagon was the people hauler of choice in the Seventies and early Eighties, followed by the mighty, mighty minivan, this genre of sorta-big tall wagon is everywhere.
This 2019 Kia Sorento is a refreshed example of a generation first offered in 2016. Kia keeps making impressive strides year after year. The example I sampled was packed to the gills with nearly every luxury bit possible, but does the new Sorento keep up with the competition?
Styling is at once handsome and anonymous. It doesn’t offend the eye, though Kia’s signature Tiger Nose grille is bigger and more bulbous than on other models in the lineup. Perhaps this tiger is overfed. I’m not a fan of the overly busy detailing under the rear bumper — the Sorento seems to be aping a diffuser, as found on a ground-effect race car. Nobody’s confusing a three-row crossover with a race car, Kia.
Engine noise under acceleration is a slightly unrefined growl — it’s noticeable mostly due to the surprising lack of wind noise. Be less aggressive on the throttle pedal, and you’ll never notice a thing.
Something I’ve noticed on several Kia models like this Sorento — there seems to be very little effort in opening the door from the inside. Pulling on the interior door release, there isn’t the usual click one might feel when the door latch releases. It’s something I’d get used to quickly, but it occasionally gives me a moment of concern that I’ve been driving around with the door open because there’s no effort involved in overcoming a door latch detent.
Cargo space behind a raised third row isn’t bad compared to some others in the segment — a pair of twenty-inch suitcases should fit standing up between the seat back and the powered liftgate. That space is, unfortunately, taken out of the third row legroom. It’s rather minimal. The designated third-row tester kid complained a bit when we wedged her in the wayback. Once seated for a road trip, she managed to make herself reasonably comfortable, but her knees were pressed in her sister’s back the entire trip.
Otherwise, the ride for front- and middle-row passengers is excellent. The front seat, especially, is spacious and supportive, with nicely finished two-tone leather. Kia does a brilliant job of making simple, intuitive user interfaces for all driver controls, whether on the touchscreen or on the steering wheel. Perhaps it’s familiarity — I’ve spent a good bit of time in Kia products over the last year or two — but whenever I sit in a new Kia like this Sorento, I’m relieved that all audio and navigation controls are perfectly laid out.
The steering wheel has a funky rubbery feeling on the inner edges of the lower spokes. It’s an odd, almost chalky feeling material that is incongruous with the plastic and the leather elsewhere on the wheel. Every other surface I can touch throughout the cabin feels of good quality; these little bits, however, are just weird.
I’m feeling that the little details are where the Sorento I tested falls down. I can forgive a little bit of engine noise, a tight third row, or oddball material texture in the price range where the Sorento starts — the sub-$30k market. In that price range, the Sorento is compelling. At over $48,000 as tested, this Sorento is playing in an entirely different market — one where expectations are different.
[Get new and used Kia Sorento pricing here!]
I’d be interested to see how the new Kia Telluride affects the pricing of the Sorento. I’d have to imagine that the new, bigger model will put some downward pressure on this venerable crossover.
[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]
Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in ebay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.
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