If you are looking for an SUV to drive through town, but also one that is made for travel, 2019 Kia Sorento deserves a look.
The SX Limited is the premium trim in the lineup of six models. It also carries a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $44,690, but at this price point, the Sorento provides every technological, comfort, and safety feature imaginable.
In fact, when it comes to safety, the Sorento can boast its high performance in crash tests under the U.S. government’s 5-Star Safety Ratings program. It earned five stars as the overall vehicle score and in the frontal crash test and side crash test. On the other hand, it earned only four stars in the rollover category.
The 3.3-liter gasoline direct injection (GDI) V6 engine delivers 290 horsepower at 6,400 rpm, which is routed by an eight-speed Sportmatic auto transmission. This combo achieves a fuel efficiency of 19 mpg city and 24 mpg highway for a combined 21 mpg.
However, on a recent trip to West Texas and the Gulf Coast involving both city and country driving, I averaged 25 mpg over the entire trip.
Inside the Sorento SX Limited is a comfortable and luxurious interior, with Nappa leather, sporty details, and 40/20/40-split second-row sliding seats with cargo release. Sound-reducing glass is used for the windshield and front side windows to keep unwanted noise out of the cabin. All of these features work together for a high-end, comfortable feeling.
The cabin is dominated by a UVO Intelligence-equipped 8-inch touchscreen infotainment and communications system with integrated navigation and support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Since most of the noise is kept out, the quality sound from the 10-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system keeps everyone relaxed.
On the exterior, illumination is provided by LED headlights and fog lights, plus projector LED tail lights with integrated LED positioning lights.
My wife and I had an assignment to visit El Paso, where we enjoyed sampling Tex-Mex foods and doing a story on hauntings at an old downtown cemetery. Afterward we were to journey on toward Big Bend National Park and interview some border patrol agents on safety issues at the border.
The Sorento was our car of choice, and we couldn’t have been more pleased. We easily loaded up my wife’s seven suitcases and my gym bag for our seven-day journey. Then we added two ice chests, camping gear, and other assortments of travelling accoutrements.
The weather was usually cool, windy, dusty, and dry in the morning, before warming up in the afternoon. The Sorento’s heated and ventilated seats and heated leather-wrapped steering wheel kept us toasty each morning. Then throughout the day the vehicle’s large console held our ample supply of water and snacks as its dual-zone automatic climate control system took the edge off the desert landscape.
It was a picturesque landscape made more enjoyable by the Sorento’s useful features and good handling. The rear-camera display was clear and easy to read. The Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go Technology let us maintain a predetermined distance from the vehicles ahead and automatically adjusted the driving speed as needed.
The technology was especially helpful since West Texas highways are long and windy but a speed of 80 mph is encouraged. With the slow-moving traffic, due to much road construction taking place, it made driving a breeze.
The top-of-the-line Sorento had an array of standard safety features, which includes lane keep assist, lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning, rear cross-traffic-collision warning, and parking-distance warning. All of these features work together to keep everyone safe until the destination is reached.
It was really a challenge to find fault with the Sorento. A little more room in the driver’s seat and more open-space pockets for small personal items would have been appreciated.
5-Year/60,000-Mile Limited Basic Warranty
10-Year/100,000-Mile Limited Powertrain Warranty
5-Year/60,000-Mile Roadside Assistance
Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this newspaper or at dcaussey@SBCglobal.net