The 2021 Kia Sorento was recently revealed but the smaller three-row SUV will not go on sale in the North American market till the fall of 2020. In the meantime, Kia has made a few changes to the current Sorento for the 2020 model year. Small styling changes freshen the look a bit. Kia has also played around with the number of trims and the features they get. The number of trims has been reduced but now more models get more active driver safety assistance systems.

Kia’s forté, if you’ll pardon the pun, is offering a whole lot of vehicle, with interesting styling without going overboard, and the Kia Sorento delivers more of that for 2020. That’s especially true this year thanks to a new S trim that adds the LX Convenience Package with its forward collision avoidance and push-button start, as well as the SX Limited being dropped and the regular SX getting more stuff and a lower price than before.

The styling of the 2019 and 2020 Sorento is virtually identical. Kia has even used the same photos for both model years, so while they say that the bumpers, headlights, fog lights, and taillights have been updated to look more upscale, we’re taking their word for it. What was eight price points and 14 trim level listings last year, a number that’s shockingly complex for a vehicle that’s not a full-size pickup, has been reduced to just five and eight respectively, greatly simplifying the options for buyers and making it easier to pick the Sorento to suit them.

Pricing for the 2020 Kia Sorento starts at $28,110 for the L model with front-wheel drive and goes up to $41,210 for an SX model, and all prices include the destination fee of $1,120 added on

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Kia Sorento Powertrain

Kia offers a pair of engines for the Sorento, a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that makes 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque and a 3.3-liter V6 sporting a much healthier 290 hp and 252 lb-ft. The four-pot is available with a six-speed automatic. The base L model is available with front-wheel-drive and the 2.4-liter engine only. The LX is powered by the same powertrain but for an extra $1,800 you get AWD. The power is adequate but only just. Especially if you’re planning on using all seven seats or a large part of the 73 cubic feet of maximum cargo space.

The V6 powertrain comes with all-wheel drive as standard (except on S) along with an eight-speed automatic. The combination makes for a much livelier vehicle and one that will be much happier hauling copious quantities of people and stuff.

Kia Sorento Fuel Economy

The four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive Sorento returns 22 mpg city, 29 highway. The LX with its all-wheel-drive combined with the four-pot returns 21/26, or at least that’s what the EPA says. If you’re looking at the V6 and front-drive in the S, the figures don’t change much. Probably because the bigger engine doesn’t need to work as hard. That one is rated for 19 mpg city, 26 highway. AWD V6 models are rated for 18/24 mpg

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Kia Sorento Features and Pricing

Sorento L: Starts at $28,110

The L comes with the smaller engine and front-wheel drive, but typical for Kia it still offers plenty of good stuff on board. 17-inch alloys, for a start, as well as projector headlights with auto light control. Body-colored mirrors and chrome door handles are a nice step up from the grey plastic of many other base trim models. Inside, it comes with a 3.5-inch LCD dash display with trip computer and a 7.0-inch infotainment system that gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

Sorento LX: Starts at $29,210

With LX comes the $1,800 option for all-wheel drive for and there is also an acoustic windshield to keep things quieter inside. The driver’s seat gains eight-way power adjustment and there are seatback pockets for your rear-seat passengers to stash their stuff. Two fast-charge USB ports are added along with auto up/down for the power windows at all four corners of the crossover. This one gets many of Kia’s active safety features, with blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert coming in as standard. A $2,000 Convenience Package adds silver roof rails and heated front seats, along with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, argument-avoiding dual-zone climate control, and parking distance warnings when reversing and a forward collision avoidance system.

Sorento S V6: Starts at $34,310

Walking up the range to S means the V6 is standard, though all-wheel drive is still an $1,800 option. The S comes equipped with 19-inch alloys and matching gloss-black mirror caps and roof rails. Inside, it comes with the LX Convenience pack features as standard, so it adds heated front seats, a leather-wrapped wheel, dual-zone climate control, and the active safety kit. Rear heating ducts are part of the S package, so are push-button start and smart key entry.

Sorento EX V6: Starts at $36,610

EX comes with the V6 and AWD as standard and also gets the S’s gloss-black 19-inch wheels. It also adds projector-style fog lights and body-color exterior mirrors. The front door glass is now acoustic glass in addition to the windshield and if you look up you’ll find a panoramic glass roof with power sunshade. The dashboard is upgraded with a 7.0-inch color LCD display and the interior lighting is LED lit. The seats of the EX are upholstered in leather, and there’s a smart power tailgate. Blind-spot collision avoidance joins the suite of driver aids, along with rear cross-traffic alert, pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and radar cruise control.

Sorento SX: Starts at $41,210

Sorento’s top trim adds a load of comfort and convenience features including an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat and a 14-way power-adjustable driver’s perch. The taillights are LED and the mirrors can power-fold for tight parking spaces. Body-color mouldings and a stainless steel skid plate give it a more upscale look.

Driver and passenger will also likely enjoy the 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio surround sound audio system that’s run through an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that also gets navigation. A wireless phone charger is added to the console, and to help out with parking, forward parking sensors are added along with a surround-view camera system.

Kia Sorento Recommended Trim

The S model with AWD gives you everything you’re likely to need in a crossover, and it does it for a great price. The V6 and AWD, plus heated seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel to make the driver happy, plus dual-zone climate control to keep the front passenger (and so the most important passenger) happy. It’s got the most important driver aids, too, so unless you really want every single one, then it’s the sweet spot of the Sorento lineup.

 

Kia Sorento vs GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

Like the Sorento, GMC’s Acadia is a three-row that’s a little less massive than some of the other choices. It makes for a great crossover if you’ve got smaller kids going in the back row or just need seats six and seven on occasion. The Acadia’s base engine is a 193 hp, 2.5L four that’s backed by a nine-speed auto, and that gearbox helps give it a slightly better 27 mpg highway. The Acadia can also be had with a 310 hp, 3.6L V6 that also gets a nine-speed auto. It’s about as thirsty as the Sorento’s V6.

A base GMC Acadia starts at $29,800, which about $3,000 more than the Kia. Loaded up, a top-spec Acadia Denali is about $6,000 more than a top-spec Sorento, but it does offer more luxury features like ventilated seats. It’s also a Denali, which means it looks more upscale and you can more easily tell it apart from the base model than you can a Kia L and SX.

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Kia Sorento vs Nissan Pathfinder

2017 nissan pathfinder

Another three-row crossover that’s not too big, the Pathfinder has traded the rugged SUV of the past for something much more highway-friendly. The only engine Nissan offers is a punchy and sweet-sounding 284 hp 3.5L V6, so we won’t compare it to the cheaper four-cylinder Sorentos. Starting from $31,680, a front-drive Pathfinder is $1,510 less than a similarly-driven Sorento. On the top end, a Platinum 4×4 at $44,610 is about $3,000 more dear. Thanks to a CVT, the Pathfinder offers 19 mpg city, 26 highway, both better than the V6 AWD Kia offers.

Nissan’s Pathfinder is about 10-inches longer than the Kia, which could make it a little tougher to park, but it comes with 78.9 cubic feet of cargo space, about 5 more than the Kia. Behind the second row of seats, though, the Pathfinder offers 47 cubes, 9 more than the Kia.

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Kia Sorento vs Mazda CX-9

Mazda’s CX-9 might not be the best thing to drive with seven seats, but it’s definitely the best mainstream three-row crossover for people who still want to enjoy driving. That’s despite only one engine choice, a 227 hp, 2.5L turbo-four (250 hp if you buy premium gas) that uses its 310 lb-ft of shove to excellent effect. It’s also the only big crossover that makes fun turbo noises, though you’ll need to roll down a window to hear them.

Mazda also offers some of the best interior designs in the segment that, especially in Signature trim, make this a legitimate luxury SUV contender. A base CX-9 Sport starts from $33,790, a far cry from the Sorento’s sub $27k starting, and that difference carries all the way up to the $46,115 Signature. But if you’re ready to spend a few dollars more, the CX-9 offers better driving experience, a premium interior, and 2 mpg more in both city and highway driving.

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Read More Mazda CX-9 Review

Detailed Specs

Price Range / $26,990-$40,090
Engine / 2.4-liter I4 / 3.3-liter V6
Power (hp) / 185 / 290
Torque (lb-ft) / 178 / 252
Fuel Economy (mpg, city/hwy/combined) / 22/29/25 21/26/23 19/26/22 18/24/20
Drivetrain / 6AT, FWD/AWD, 8 AT, FWD/AWD

Our Final Verdict

The Sorento has been eclipsed by Kia’s larger Telluride, which is more rugged-looking and offers more stuff. But it’s also more expensive, and the Sorento is still a great place to sit. Especially if you don’t need all of the Telluride’s space, which can make it a challenge to find parking space. We’d avoid the four-cylinder and stick with an AWD V6, where you’ll get a fun and capable crossover that won’t break the bank.