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Stylish Sorento has pleasing ride, impressive warranty

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The Kia Sorento is a mid-size crossover SUV that is nicely proportioned, looks stylish, feels refined, offers 7-passenger three-row seating, and it includes one of the best warranties in the segment.

For 2019, Sorento benefits from exterior and interior enhancements to provide a more refined and sophisticated look, a newly available 8-speed automatic transmission, revised 6-speed automatic transmission, standard three-row seating for all trim levels, newly added Driver Assistance Systems, and expanded tech offerings.

Exterior Flair

Since it was redesigned two years ago, Sorento has been pleasing to the eyes. For 2019, Kia has tweaked Sorento to deliver even sharper styling. Sorento’s front and rear fascias have been restyled to provide a cleaner and more aggressive tone.

Its grille is flanked by a new headlamp configuration. Full LED lighting is available on upper trim levels. New wheels ranging from 17 to 19 inches further add to Sorento’s striking styling.

Cabin

Inside, Sorento offers a spacious and nicely-styled cabin with a premium look and feel. Lower trim levels feature cloth upholstery while leather and premium Nappa leather are available in upper trims. The cabin is well insulated and does well at maintaining a tranquil environment when cruising at highway speeds.

Even the base L trim level is well-equipped. Full power accessories are provided as well as a 7-inch touchscreen display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. An 8-inch display with navigation and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound audio system are featured in upper trims.

There is plenty of room and comfort up front, but I found the second-row seats to be a bit too low and lacking comfort for longer journeys.

The third-row seats are not easily accessed and are best suited for kids. Plus, some of Sorento’s rivals let you access the third-row seats without removing second-row mounted child seats. Unfortunately, that is not the case with Sorento.

Cargo space is small (11.3 cubic-feet) when all three rows are in use. Thankfully, that opens up to 38 cubic-feet with the third-row seats folded flat, and grows to 73 cubic-feet with both the second- and third-rows folded.

Technologies like blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert are standard in all but the base L trim. Adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and a surround view monitor are only available in the higher trim levels.

Performance

The base L and LX trims are motivated by a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a revised 6-speed automatic transmission. Optional in LX, and standard across the rest of the lineup, is a much stronger 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 engine mated to a new 8-speed automatic transmission.

I recommend the V6. The four-banger is underwhelming. Unfortunately, the previously offered turbocharged 2.0-liter is no longer an option. So, choose the LX V6, or any of the upper trims. The V6 and 8-speed automatic are well-matched. The V6 is responsive and offers plenty of power. The V6 and 8-speed automatic tandem feel very refined.

Power is transferred to either the front or all wheels. All-wheel drive is available ($1,800) in all but base L models. Sorento models with the V6 and AWD have a 5,000-pound towing capacity.

Suspension tuning is agreeable even though it is a tad on the stiff side, and steering feel has been improved over last year’s model. I like that it feels smaller than it is when cruising around town.

Pricing for the 2019 Kia Sorento begins around $26,000; if you step up to a V6-powered LX, you get more features and options, but the price jumps to $31,000. The top-of-the-line and ultra-luxurious SXL model with Nappa leather upholstery and all the bells-and-whistles beckons around $45,000.

Sorento is not my top pick in this segment, but it is one of the better-looking offerings and it delivers a confident and pleasing ride, it comes nicely equipped, and features an impressive warranty.

This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication