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2019 Kia Sorento – First Drive

By: Jay Kana

Kia’s Canadian tale is similar to the “Tortoise and the Hare” fable where it’s an exercise in patience and having a long-game strategy. Yes, they’ve steadily been building their reputation based on affordability and reliable vehicles, however in 2018, Hyundai’s sister company boasts the remarkable and sexy Stinger, the ultra-popular Soul, the under-appreciated yet uber-luxurious K-900, along with other terrific vehicles in their lineup.

They’ve also launched a refreshed version for the 2019 model year of their best-selling Sorento crossover. The Kia folks call it an “intermediate crossover” as it’s not quite mid-sized and not quite compact. To me, it’s a mid-sized crossover, primarily based on the available seating for seven. The changes to a non-Kia enthusiast may be overlooked but I assure you, after spending a few hundred clicks behind the wheel, they’re definitely there.

On the outside, the 2019 Sorento sees an updated grille, redesigned LED quad fog lights, tail lights and a slightly different looking bumper. It’s still a conservatively designed vehicle, opposed to some of their competitors who love sharp creases in the body…nonetheless, there wasn’t anything wrong or offensive with the 2018 model, so why make unnecessary changes to the body, right? If I were to change anything, I’d add a second exhaust pipe on the left side of the bumper, giving it a uniformed look.

Power-wise, they’ve retired the turbo 4cylinder engine, leaving them with two engines options (maybe a diesel will show up later this year…) that have been brought forward from the 2018 iteration. There’s a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine producing 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft. of torque routed through a 6-speed gearbox. And then there’s the significantly larger 3.3L V6 churning out 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft. of torque. The big change is that the V6 is paired with a very smooth shifting 8-speed gearbox, which lets you tug around 5,000 lbs of whatever your adventure needs are.

My jaunt was with the top-trip SXL and as I twisted and turned my way through cottage country’s backroads, the V6 responded quickly to my right-foot input and climbing hills was done with ease. For a mid-sized crossover, the Sorento handles respectably well with minimal body roll and they’ve struck a pleasant balance in the ride comfort department, making for what should be enjoyable road trips.

I’ve always enjoyed Kia’s smartly laid out interior and its high ease of use. The combination of buttons and dials are very user-friendly and they’ve kept the formula of making it very easy for the driver to make changes on the fly without any guesswork. Standard on the Sorento is a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system (SX/SXL gets an additional inch) along with a backup camera and good ol’ Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The standard heated seats are still as comfortable as ever (cloth, leather and Nappa leather are available as you climb the trim ladder) fit and finish score high marks with me and the available panoramic sunroof gives an already generous interior an added feeling of openness in the cabin.

Entry trim LX gets 5 seats, so no 3rd row, while the EX and SX/SXL trims (obviously) get a third row with two seats that are ideal for non-adults.

Let’s talk cargo space, shall we? With the second and third row of seats folded, you get a whopping 2,066L of cargo space (2,082L in the LX) which is ample space for plenty of urban or rural gear.
Behind the second row, there’s a respectable 1,077L for groceries, golf clubs, suitcases, tents, etc.
So storage-wise, Sorento scores well with me.

Blind spot monitoring, front/rear parking sensors and rear-cross traffic alert show up on the EX and higher trims and lane keep assist, driver attention alerts and forward collision avoidance and a 360-degree camera are only available on the top-trip SXL, which to me is a way to keep mid-trim level costs down…not necessarily a bad thing.

Oh, and there is a wireless charging pad for anyone without an iPhone in all trims but the LX FWD.

Priced from $27,995 to $48,865, the 7 flavours of Sorento are staggered so that each prospective buyer has something that should fit in their wheelhouse.

Kia’s not out to reinvent the wheel with the 2019 iteration of their internally best-selling vehicle. Rather, they’ve made subtle changes to make a good product even better.

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