With crossovers center stage at the L.A. Auto Show, Kia shows many small changes can make a big-ish difference.
We’ve already had a decent look at the refreshed 2019 Kia Sorento, but at last we have full disclosure of what all is taking place for the crossover’s mid-cycle refresh. While the changes don’t necessarily constitute a groundbreaking leap from the current model, neither is it an insubstantial upgrade.
For starters, the SUV is now fully a three-row machine, with seven-passenger seating standard in all models. Continuing with the interior, each Sorento gets a slight refresh with minor changes to the center console, air vents, shifter knob, and a revised instrument cluster. High-end SX and SXL models get some additional goodies in the form of new interior colors and two-way power lumbar control for front seat passengers, while EX and higher models get Kia’s full suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems – which now include Driver Attention Warning and Lane Keeping Assist—as standard equipment.
The updates outside are similarly minor but certainly noticeable. Up front resides new headlights surrounding a grille that Kia says is “more artfully detailed,” along with a resculptured bumper and redesigned fog lamps. The rear also sports a new bumper design with a tweaked exhaust tip, along with sleeker taillights and a revised tail gate. Three new wheel styles ranging from 17 to 19 inches are available for fresh bling, along with LED lights on higher trim models.
The powertrain is largely a carryover, though as with everything else there are some notable changes. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder has been dropped from the lineup, leaving the naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter four and the 3.3-liter V6 to serve as the Sorento’s only engine options though a diesel might also be on the way. Horsepower remains at 185 and 290 repectfully, though the V6 now sends its power through the same eight-speed automatic transmission found in Cadenza sedan.The Drive Mode Select function has also been replaced with something called Smart Shift & Drive for all trim levels. This will automatically select the best driving mode based on conditions and driving style, or it can manually be set to one of three positions: Eco, Sport, or Smart.
Separately, the updates are certainly minor. Combined, however, they all add up to create a 2019 Sorento that is still competitive in the extremely crowded mid-size SUV segment.
Gallery: 2019 Kia Sorento
2019 KIA SORENTO REFRESHED AND READY FOR LOS ANGELES AUTO SHOW
World-Class SUV Introduces Smart and Subtle Changes
- Sorento enjoys numerous exterior and interior enhancements to achieve a more refined and sophisticated look
- Utility’s performance elevated with available new 8-speed automatic transmission and revised 6-speed gearbox
- 7-passenger 3-row seating now standard on all trims
- Newly-added Driver Assistance Systems, Harman Kardon-audio with QuantumLogic™ and wireless charging expand Sorento’s tech roster
LOS ANGELES, November 30, 2017 – Kia Motors America (KMA) today unveiled the refreshed 2019 Sorento SUV at the Los Angeles International Auto Show. Refined, rugged and roomy, the Sorento remains as capable as ever, but touts a number of visual and feature enhancements, inside and out. Aside from new front and rear fascias, which help achieve a more sophisticated appearance, the cabin is now decidedly more upscale and integrates newly-added technology, including Driver Attention Warning, Lane Keep Assist1 and QuantumLogic™ Surround Sound. In addition, the Sorento now pairs its available 3.3-liter V6 with a new 8-speed automatic transmission for an even smoother and more seamless driving experience.
“In the highly-competitive crossover category, the Sorento is a clear example of how world-class design and craftsmanship are executed,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, KMA. “Our popular utility now ups its game even further with enhancements in styling, packaging and content, making it even more attractive to shoppers seeking a premium level 3-row SUV.”
Standard luxury features and amenities continue to be available across five trim levels – L, LX, EX, SX and SXL.
Beautifully proportioned, the Sorento retains its refined and rugged exterior look, which was established when the vehicle underwent a complete redesign for the 2016 model year, and was in many ways inspired by the highly regarded Cross GT concept unveiled in 2013. But a subtle facelift now gives Kia’s popular crossover a tighter, sharper appearance. The revised front-end is headlined by a more artfully detailed radiator grille flanked by a new headlamp configuration, which offers full-LED lighting on upper trims – SX and SXL. The crossover’s familiar ice cube-style foglamps have also been redesigned featuring projection bulbs for EX and SX trims while SXL enjoys the more distinctive LEDs. The Sorento’s front fascia wears a newly sculpted bumper design to achieve a more aggressive overall expression.
The rear fascia of the crossover has also been enhanced with a new bumper design, sleeker taillamps (LED bulbs for EX trim and higher), revised liftgate and a sportier muffler tip. And the Sorento’s muscular body rides atop three newly designed wheels, ranging from 17 to 19 inches, depending on trim level.
Spacious and sophisticated, the Sorento’s cabin maintains a premium look and feel thanks to an array of upgrades and enhancements, including a new, more tactile steering wheel, new shifter knob and a revised instrument cluster with improved graphics. The makeover also includes alterations to the air vents and the center console design. Although these are minor changes individually, the cumulative effect is a more attractive interior space to be seen, felt and experienced.
In terms of versatility, Sorento offers standard 40/20/40 second-row folding seats and 50/50 third-row folding seats now comes standard on all trims, providing space for up to seven passengers. The seating system is designed to offer optimum comfort and ideal seating positions to fulfill the needs of every occupant. For added luxury, also available are heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, 14-way power driver and 8-way power passenger seats, driver’s seat thigh extension and a 4-way headrest with one-button adjustment. And for 2019, Sorento now offers 2-way powered lumbar support for the front passenger on SX and SXL trims.
The Sorento interior also offers available dual-zone HVAC and panoramic sunroof, as well as available premium Nappa leather trim seating surfaces, similar to those found in Kia’s exciting new sports sedan, the Stinger. Newly available interior/seat colors are Mahogany and Terracotta for the SX and SXL trims, respectively. And updated interior accent trims are standard visual enhancements across all trim levels.
Overall cargo volume accessed through the new rear liftgate is voluminous at 74 cu.-ft., providing an abundance of space for essentials and active-lifestyle equipment without sacrificing rear-passenger room. In addition, an easy-folding lever allows various seating arrangements, flexible luggage space and greater overall versatility.
Tech Savvy SUV
The 2019 Kia Sorento is loaded with technology, including an upgraded AVN 5.0 navigation system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay offered with higher level trims. The base level L trim gets a standard 7-inch user interface, also equipped with Android Auto2 and Apple CarPlay.3 And to eliminate the need for a charging cord, there’s now an available wireless charging3 tray for compatible Android6 devices, as well as Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone X.
When it comes to audio technology, the available premium sound system is well suited to Sorento’s upscale atmosphere. The 630-watt, 10-speaker new Harman Kardon® branded stereo system with an 11-channel amplifier features Clari-Fi technology2 and newly integrated QuantumLogic™ Surround Sound technology.2 Clari–Fi works in real-time to rebuild audio details lost in digitally compressed music, while QuantumLogic™ extracts signals from the original recording and redistributes them into an authentic, multidimensional soundstage for playback that is clear, refined and full of detail. Ultimately, the result is a more robust and enjoyable on-road listening experience.
With the Kia App store, select apps can be downloaded from iTunes® or Google PlaySM. The Kia App connector is available for partnership with the content community for downloading apps such as Yelp®, while Soundhound, Pandora® and iHeart® Radio come preloaded.
On the Road
The spirited front- or all-wheel drive experience is brought to life with a choice of two proven engines, including a 2.4-liter inline-4 GDI or a 3.3-liter V6 GDI. For MY19, the 2.0-liter turbo I-4 will no longer be offered as part of Sorento’s powertrain strategy. However, a new diesel engine with the latest emission controls is currently under development and more information is forthcoming.
The carryover 2.4-liter engine is mated to a revised and more efficient electronically controlled six-speed automatic gearbox featuring Sportmatic® shifting and delivers a capable 185 horsepower. The Sorento’s familiar V6 brings with it a stampede of 290 horses while connecting to a new 8-speed automatic transmission shared with the brand’s Cadenza premium sedan. The result is a noticeably smoother and more seamless interaction between engine and transmission. This pairing also maintains Sorento’s towing capacity at 5,000 lbs when equipped with AWD.
To achieve a more intuitive driving experience, Sorento replaces the former Drive Mode Select setup with the new Smart Shift & Drive feature across all trim levels. This enhancement automatically activates the optimum drive mode – Eco, Sport or Smart – based on driving style or may be set by driver preference.
Kia’s suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) is now standard on Sorento EX trims and higher. In addition to Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS)1, Smart Cruise Control (SCC)1, Blind Spot Detection (BSD)1, Rear Cross Traffic Alert1 and Surround View Monitor (SVM)1, Sorento now offers Driver Attention Warning (DAW)4 and Lane Keeping Assist (LKA).1 DAW is designed to detect when driver concentration has waned by monitoring vehicle and driving behavior and, then, if it detects driver fatigue or inattentive driving practices, issues visual and audible warnings, including a coffee cup icon in the instrument cluster, to encourage the driver to take a break.” LKA helps alerts the driver and can even steer the vehicle back to its original position should the system detect the vehicle drifting out of its lane.
In addition, all Sorento models continue to offer standard active safety features such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS)15, Brake Assist System (BAS)15, Hill-start Assist Control (HAC)15, Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD)15 and Antilock Braking System (ABS)15. Additional technologies such as Roll Over Mitigation (ROM)15 and Cornering Brake Control (CBC)15 on AWD models are standard equipment for improved dynamic control.
The core of the 2019 Sorento remains its rigid structure, with 53 percent of the unit-body consisting of advanced high-strength steel. Liberal application of industrial strength adhesives, the use of dual-seal lip joints as well as laser and large diameter welding techniques combine to make the Sorento solid and strong.
The Sorento’s well-proven suspension geometry and responsive steering system provide a quick and nimble behind-the-wheel feel. Ride and handling are optimized with the application of an "H" shaped subframe, four-point bushing mountings, and Hydraulic Rebound Stopper-type shock absorbers. And vertically mounted rear shocks contribute to a comfortable ride no matter what the driving conditions. The available Rack-mounted Motor Driven Power Steering (R-MDPS) features direct mounting of the electric motor on the steering rack, enhancing steering response and improving handling.
Sorento continues to offer an advanced AWD system designed to automatically route power to the wheel with the most traction. When conditions call for more sure-footed capability, the 4WD Lock Mode splits engine power evenly between the front and rear drive shafts. The system also provides drivers the added stability of Torque Vector Cornering Control (TVCC).15 The TVCC system is activated when yaw and steering sensors detect unwanted understeer.
About Kia Motors America
Headquartered in Irvine, California, Kia Motors America is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. Recognized as one of the 100 Best Global Brands and 50 Best Global Green Brands by Interbrand, Kia proudly serves as the "Official Automotive Partner" of the NBA and LPGA and offers a complete range of vehicles sold through a network of nearly 800 dealers in the U.S., including cars and crossovers built at North American manufacturing plants in West Point, Georgia* and the municipality of Pesqueria in the state of Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
* The Sorento and Optima GDI (EX, SX & Limited and certain LX Trims only) are assembled in the United States from U.S. and globally sourced parts
 These systems are not substitutes for proper and safe driving, parking, and/or backing-up procedures. These systems may not detect every object behind or alongside the vehicle or in the vehicle’s blindspot or direction of travel. Always drive safely and use caution.
 Clari-Fi technology and QuantumLogic Surround Sound technology are registered trademarks of Harman Kardon. Inc.
 Charging system only works with select devices. Refer to the vehicle's Owner's Manual for warnings and instructions.
 Driver Attention Warning is not a substitute for safe driving and may not detect all instances of driver fatigue or inattentive driving practices. Failure to pay attention to travel conditions and vehicle operation could result in loss of vehicle control. Always drive safely and use caution.
 Distracted driving can result in a loss of vehicle control. When operating a vehicle, never use a vehicle system that takes your focus away from safe vehicle operation. Navigation is for information purposes only, and Kia does not make any warranties about the accuracy of the information.
 Android™ is a trademark of Google, Inc.
 Apple CarPlay is a registered trademark of Apple, Inc.
 iPhone8 and iPhoneX are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc.
 Apps use your smartphone data service. Normal cellular service rates will apply.
 iTunes and Siri are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc.
 Google Play is a service mark of Google, Inc.
 Yelp and related marks are registered trademarks of Yelp
 Pandora® is a registered trademark of Pandora Media, Inc.
 iHeartRadio® is a registered trademark of Clear Channel Broadcasting, Inc.
 No system, no matter how advanced, can compensate for all driver error and/or driving conditions. Always drive responsibly.