KIA Insider

Kia Sorento ups its game, again for 2019

The Kia Sorento has undergone a mid-cycle makeover. The appearance hasn’t changed much but there are some significant upgrades to the drivetrain and additional features.

The result is a mid-size crossover that continues to offer excellent value, proven reliability and longevity.

The face lift includes a new grill and front fascia and a new rear bumper cap. Inside the changes are more noticeable. They include the steering wheel, gearshift, instruments, console, infotainment screen and trim on the seats.

Beneath the hood is the same 2.4-litre four or 3.3-litre six-cylinder engine used previously. Missing is the turbocharged 2.0-litre four, binned because hardly anyone bought it. More than 60 per cent of Sorento buyers chose the V6.

Behind the 185-horsepower four is a revised version of the six-speed automatic while the 290-horsepower V6 is paired with a new eight-speed transmission.

Kia might be the first Asian manufacturer to bring a diesel to these shores, pending a final decision later this year. If yes, it is destined for the Sorento.

There is a 2019 Sorento for every purpose and budget, spanning the $28,000-$45,000 range. It starts with a four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive LX and tops out with the all-wheel-drive V6 SXL sampled for this review.

In between lie EX and SX trim levels. All but the base model come with all-wheel drive. Five-passenger seating is standard on the LX, with three rows and seating for seven on all others.

The interior has been updated without losing its best feature —excellent ergonomics. The expected technologies are there, but there are still large buttons and knobs for frequently-used functions.

The user-friendly nature extends to the big infotainment screen. All include a rear-view camera and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.

There are plenty of soft-touch surfaces, including the supple Nappa leather on this trim level. New this year is a pair of earth-tone interior options on SX and SXLs. They transform an otherwise dark interior.

Kia’s UVO infotainment system is better than most in that you don’t have to take an afternoon off to learn its intricacies. The telematics component allows you to control a number of functions remotely through your smart phone. An 18-cm touchscreen is standard on LX and EX trims and a 20-cm version on SX and SXL.

The Sorento is on the small side of the mid-size crossover segment. The good news is this makes it much easier to manoeuvre in urban environments, especially crowded parking lots, tight garages and spaces.

The front seats are terrific with lots of support and adjustability allowing you to emerge after several hours — or a tank of fuel — almost refreshed.

Again, on the positive side, the third row is there for those occasions when you want to carry more than five.

With it in place there is 11.3 cubic feet of cargo space. Drop it down, from within the cargo hold if you like, and the available space leaps to 38 cubic feet.

With both second and third rows out of the way you have access to 73 cubic feet or more than 2,000 litres.

The sophisticated V6 is a silky smooth and silent companion whether tootling around town or cruising down the TransCanada. There is not a surplus of power and it does have to be wrung out a bit when pressing hard, because the torque does not peak until 5,000 rpm. It provides the ability to tow up to 5,000 lbs.

The ride/handling balance has been well thought-out, especially in light of the vehicle’s intended audience. Subtle changes to the suspension mean there is very little lean or head toss during cornering or transitions.

The ride is pleasantly quiet and supple over all but the nastiest surfaces. The steering, revised for 2019, is a little light but provides a decent amount of feedback.

Built in the U.S., the Sorento has become Kia Canada’s bestseller.

Revisions to the 2019 model, while not readily visible, should ensure it retains that position.

The specs