Kia Sorento — Refreshed inside and out

By David Finkelstein

If you want to attract new SUV buyers in this competitive global industry, you've got to keep reinventing the vehicle. That said, it's evident that Kia Motors got the message as it now features a heavily refreshed Sorento for the 2019 model year.

Manufactured with a number of new exterior and interior upgrades to help raise the bar with refinement and sophistication. All trim levels for the '19 model year now include three-row seating, with passenger accommodations for up to seven individuals.

The five trim grades include — L, LX, EX, SX and SXL. This more refined, rugged and roomier sport utility vehicle remains capable, regardless if you're focused on using it as a city/daily driver vehicle or to elevate your weekend outdoors adventures.

With it having a reworked front and rear fascia assembly, Sorento has a somewhat more premium presence with its initial appearance. The interior cabin environment was designed to be more upscale. Unique technologies are offered such as Driver Attention Warning System, Lane Keep Assist feature and the factories optional QuantumLogic Surround Sound audio fidelity system.

To expand a bit more with respect to the vehicle's exterior, this newest version has a hint of eye candy to it's modern and refined appearance. With this tasteful facelift, it now gives this popular SUV a welcomed emergence. The revised front-end is highlighted by a more artfully detailed radiator grille, flanked by a new headlamp configuration. Full-LED lighting is also offered on the higher end models.

The familiar Kia ice cube-style foglamps have also been redesigned featuring projection bulbs for EX and SX trims while the SXL model includes the more distinctive LEDs. Sorento’s front fascia now includes a newly sculpted bumper design to achieve a more aggressive overall meaningful expression. The rear fascia has been enhanced with a new bumper design, sleeker taillamps (LED bulbs for EX trim and higher), revised liftgate and a sportier exhaust tail pipe outlet tip.

Three newly designed wheels are in the mix ranging from 17 to 19 inches, fitted with all season tires. Once again, the wheel choices depend on the trim you select. Built in a front-wheel-drive powertrain configuration, an optional all-wheel-drive setup is offered, as are two different engines.

The standard 2.4-liter, 4 cylinder gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine is a proven and reliable powerplant. For added acceleration, their 3.3-liter V-6 GDI is also in the product mix. Kia has indicated that a new diesel engine with the latest emission controls is currently under development and is in the pipeline.

The 2.4-liter/185-horsepower engine is mated to an electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission. The V-6 produces 290 horsepower, while matched to a 8-speed automatic transmission. EPA numbers range from 19-MPG city/26-MPG highway, as it depends on the engine and the powertrain setup.

The V-6 further raises the vehicles safe tow capacity to 5,000 lbs., when equipped with the AWD chassis powertrain. To achieve a more personalized driving experience, they're Smart Shift & Drive control feature automatically activates the optimum drive mode — Eco, Sport or Smart — based on your driving style or can be selected with a center mounted control switch.

Sorento’s cabin certainly reflects a premium look and feel. Countless upgrades are in view as well as a revised instrument cluster with improved easier to read graphics. Additional improvements were included with the gear shifter, air outlet vents and the center console housing.

The seating system is designed to offer optimum comfort, coupled with the second and third row seats designed to fold forward. The end result is seating positions to fulfill the needs of every occupant and needed cargo. It's also offered with available dual-zone heat/AC, panoramic sunroof and premium Nappa leather trim seating surfaces.

Depending on the model, you can get their revised navigation system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay plus an available wireless charging tray for compatible electronic devices. Their optional up-scale audio system is well suited, as a result of their committed 630-watt, 10-speaker Harman Kardon peripherals. All Sorento models come standard with safety features such as; Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Hill-Start/Brake Assist Control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Antilock Braking.

Additional safety technologies are included, depending on the body configuration. Sorento's solid and strong construction reflects an incredibly quite interior cabin along with outstanding ride quality. The suspension geometry and responsive steering system provide a car-like drive experience.

Pricing ranges from $25,990 - $46,490, excluding destination and additional option packages. The 2019 Sorento is currently available at 800 Kia retailers nationwide.