Competes with: Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Santa Fe
Looks like: Subtle styling tweaks evolve its bold, brawny face, setting the Sorento apart in the crowded three-row SUV segment.
Drivetrain: 185-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic transmission; 290-hp, 3.3-liter V-6 and eight-speed automatic transmission; front- or all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Early 2018
Very few SUVs have an optional third row, and the market just lost one; the Kia Sorento has been updated for 2019 and its third row is now standard.
The SUV made its debut at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show with a styling update that enhances the SUV's already brawny look. The Sorento also gets some additional safety and convenience features, a new transmission and the promise of a forthcoming diesel version.
The changes for 2019 are subtle and start at the front with a more sculpted bumper and slightly revised headlight design with full LED lighting on SX and SXL trims. The foglamps also have been restyled with projection bulbs for EX and SX trims, and an LED setup for SXL models.
There's also a new, more muscular-looking bumper design in back as well as sleeker taillamps. The 2019 Sorento rides atop three newly designed wheels, ranging from 17 to 19 inches, depending on trim level.
The biggest news inside is the addition of a standard third row for seven-passenger capacity on all trims. There's standard 40/20/40-split, folding second-row seats and a 50/50-split, third-row folding seat.
The 2019 Sorento is again available in L, LX, EX, SX and SXL trims, and changes inside are just as subtle with a revised steering wheel design and shift knob, as well as reshaped air vents and updated graphics for the instrument cluster.
New cabin features include two-way power lumbar support for the front passenger on SX and SXL trims, a wireless charging tray for compatible Android and Apple devices, and a 630-watt, 10-speaker Harman Kardon stereo system with QuantumLogic Surround Sound technology. Nappa leather trim for the seats and surfaces is available, and there's two new cabin color palettes for 2019: Mahogany and Terracotta
In terms of the multimedia system, base models use a 7-inch screen that's Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, and higher trims get an upgraded version with navigation.
Under the Hood
Kia pared down the Sorento's engine lineup for 2019, though it plans to add a diesel model in the future.
The standard engine is a carryover 2.4-liter four-cylinder again good for 185 horsepower. It pairs with a revised six-speed automatic transmission. The optional 3.3-liter V-6 makes 290 hp and matches up with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, borrowed from Kia's Cadenza sedan. All-wheel drive is available with both powertrains.
The 240-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which only recently joined the lineup for the 2016 model year, has been discontinued. However, Kia says it's developing a new diesel engine "with the latest emission controls," though the automaker did not provide details or a timeline for the engine's launch.
For 2019, Kia's suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems is now standard on EX trims and higher. Features include forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and surround view monitor. New safety features include the driver attention warning and lane-keeping assist systems. The former monitors the vehicle and driving behavior to detect when driver concentration has waned and then the system issues visual and audible warnings to alert the driver. Lane-keeping assist alerts the driver if the vehicle detects a lane drift and then can steer the SUV back on its intended course if needed.
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