Entry Price: $25,990
Price as tested: $47,870
This week, we drive our very first 2019 model, specifically the Kia Sorento which arrived in top-class SXL AWD trim with a six-cylinder engine for power. New for 2019 is a front and rear fascia upgrade that really looks good while the rest of the vehicle is pretty much the same as last year. (Which is a good thing).
Specifically, Kia Sorento is still on the recommended list of several consumer magazines and the model has received the J.D. Power “Highest Rank Midsize SUV Initial Quality Award” the last two years running. Add in some Insurance Institute safety awards and excellent reliability reviews, and you’ve got a winning combination on your hands.
Sorento for ’19 comes in six trims of L, LX, LXV6, EXV6, SX and SX Limited. The L and LX entry models are fitted with 185-horse 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines with EPA ratings of 22 city and 29 highway. The LXV6, EXV6, SX and SX Limited receive a fuel injected 290-horse 3.3-liter V6 that delivers 19 city and 24 highway.
The V6 Sorentos rely on an enhanced eight-speed automatic and the AWD versions come with the full-time 4x4 system that features a locking center differential. SXL models also ride on quality 19-inch Michelin Premier LTX tires on beautiful chrome alloys that really stand out. Four-cylinder Sorentos come with six-speed automatics and are now seven-passenger units unlike prior Sorento four-cylinders that were built in five-passenger motifs.
Kia, meanwhile, continues to surprise consumers with vehicles that are clearly some of the better-built cars on the road. The opposite of this statement lies in the fact that a few decades ago, Kia nameplates garnered little respect and were viewed as a cheaply built and unreliable alternatives for daily transportation.
Specifically, Korea-based Kia dates back to 1944 as a manufacturer of chassis parts for bicycles. In 1951, Kia started building its own bicycles and by 1957 was a partner with Honda to build small-engine powered bikes. Then in 1962, Kia ventured into the small truck market and built trucks for Mazda and finally built its own cars in 1974 in a combo sharing plan at a plant utilized by Italian brand Fiat and French builder Peugeot. Due to political situations, car assembly ceased in 1981 and Kia again built only light-duty trucks.
In 1986, Kia signed a contract to build Ford’s Fiesta and Aspire, both very small cars. In 1992, Kia Motors America was formed and the very first official Kia plated vehicle was sold in 1994 from a dealership in Portland, Oregon. Although its cars were not retail successes by any means, sales did improve as Kia still promoted its low cost alternatives versus the more expensive competitors.
Following financial troubles in 1997, Kia’s corporate savior and geographical South Korean neighbor Hyundai came to the rescue by purchasing 51 percent of the struggling company. Through the years, Hyundai and Kia have taken the auto markets by storm both abroad and in the states thanks to quality built cars with excellent reliability and the still heralded 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.
Most notable is the year 2010, when Kia opened a manufacturing plant in the U.S. called Kia Motors Manufacturing in West Point, Georgia. This success followed 15 years of steady growth in U.S. markets and today an American workforce build Hyundai and Kia vehicles daily.
Back to the 2019 Sorento.
Our top line AWD SXL tester carries a base price of $46,490 and features just about every bell and whistle as standard fare. However, we stress to readers that the entry level seven-passenger Sorento L starts at $25,990 retail and comes well-equipped sans the top level high tech safety equipment.
Underneath, a four-wheel independent suspension results in comfortable ride and surprisingly good handling. There is very little lean in tight turns and the four wheel ABS discs stop Kia quickly. With knowledge of Five Star government safety crash ratings, Sorento in any flavor makes all your travels feel a bit more secure.
Our 3.3-liter V6 powered SXL delivers acceptable but not great EPA numbers at the aforementioned 19/24, although the 4x4 tow capacity is outstanding at 5,000 lbs. Our SXL featured only a few minor options that totaled $390 ala a top roof rail, cargo net and cargo tray. This pushed the final tally to $47,870 retail with $990 delivery included.
The best part of the top line Sorento SXL is that all the high tech safety items are standard. Included are smart cruise, lane departure warning, forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, blind spot collision warning, lane keep assist correction, rear cross traffic, and more. (Your dealer will fully explain).
Notable standard luxury features include a high-end Harmon Kardon stereo with SiriusXM, navigation, heated and ventilated seats, push button start, heated steering wheel, rear camera display, premium Nappa leather seating, panoramic sunroof and power liftgate. There are over 30 other standard features awaiting your inspection on these SXL models. As for all Sorentos, Apple and Android Smartphone compatibility and Bluetooth are built into every one.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 109.4 inches, 4,343 lb. curb weight, 7.3-inch ground clearance, from 11.3 with seats up to 73.0 cu. ft. of cargo space, 18.8 gallon fuel tank and a 37.3 ft. turning circle.
In ending, Kia Sorento features a good-looking, seven-passenger design that makes for a great midsize choice. Be it brand new, leftover or a certified used model from the new generation that began in 2016, don’t hesitate to request a test drive. Remember to check with your Kia dealer for new and leftover incentives.
Likes: Excellent design, reliability, build, 100,000 mile warranty.
Dislikes: V6 fuel mileage suspect, prices can get high pretty quick.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media.
Test Drive: 2019 Kia Sorento SXL AWD
Entry Price: $25,990