2020 Kia Sorento

2020 Kia Sorento Review: Living In The Telluride's Shadow

by Morgan Carter

The crossover segment is an ever-growing, and ever-evolving market. Standing out is naturally quite difficult, but the Kia Sorento aims at a rather niche subsegment. With space inside for up to seven passengers, but a small enough footprint to maneuver around town with relative ease, the midsize SUV appeals to those who want the best of both worlds. And, while the Sorento comes with an uninspiring 185-horsepower four-cylinder engine as standard, a more impressive 280-hp V6 is available. The optional powertrain helps the Kia to stay competitive with rivals like the Mazda CX-9 and its own relatives the Hyundai Santa Fe and its bigger brother, the Kia Telluride. It also presents buyers with several trim levels offering a host of available features to suit just about any need, ending with the near-luxury SX model. If five seats simply won't do, then the Kia Sorento is worth considering.

2020 Kia Sorento Changes: What’s the difference vs 2019 Sorento?

The Sorento remains mechanically unchanged for 2020. The bumpers and lighting elements have received some minor aesthetic updates and the trim line-up has been streamlined. The LX V6, EX Sport V6, and SX Limited have been deleted in favor of the reconfigured EX and SX models near the top-end of the range.

Pros and Cons

  • Modestly sized body
  • Ample passenger capacity
  • Good list of available features
  • Comfortable and quiet ride quality
  • Well-built, upscale interior
  • Overshadowed by Kia Telluride
  • Cramped third row
  • Limited standard cargo capacity
  • Not as fun to drive as many rivals

Sorento Exterior

The Sorento sports a stylish, streamlined look, departing from the boxy look that so many SUVs still seem bound by. A matte black front grille comes standard, with gloss black on the EX, and dark metallic on the SX. The front grille is laden with chrome but isn't chunky. Automatic halogen headlights along with LED positioning lights come standard, while fog lights and LED taillights are available on the upper trims. The crossover rides on 17-inch alloys, with 19-inch sport wheels available from the S up. The top-tier SX also gets chrome and stainless steel lower bumper accents, along with body-color cladding along the wheel arches and a stainless steel rear bumper protector. A panoramic sunroof is installed on the top two trims.

2020 Kia Sorento Three Quarter Front Right Side View Kia
2020 Kia Sorento Three Quarter Rear Left Side View Kia
2020 Kia Sorento Three Quarter Rear Left Side View 1 Kia
See All 2020 Kia Sorento Exterior Photos

Dimensions

Sporting relatively standard dimensions for a midsize SUV, the Kia stands 189 inches long with a 109.4-inch wheelbase. It's quite tall at 66.3 inches, 66.5 inches with roof rails, but doesn't stand as wide as some of the chunkier crossovers at 74.4 inches. A ground clearance of 7.3 inches gives the Sorento adequate all-weather capabilities but doesn't make it a great off-roader. The lightest model weighs 3,810 lbs while the all-wheel-drive SX caps out at 4,343 lbs.

Exterior Colors

A palette of nine colors is available to the Sorento, although only four neutral hues are available to the base L trim. Sparkling Silver, Everlasting Silver, Snow White Pearl, and Ebony Black comprise the standard selection. Additional colors are made available from the LX up, including a splash of color in the form of Passion Red, Sangria, and Imperial Blue, along with Dragon Brown and Gravity Gray. Sparkling Silver also falls away in the top-spec SX.

  • Snow White Pearl
  • Passion Red
  • Imperial Blue
  • Everlasting Silver
  • Sparkling Silver
  • Ebony Black
  • Dragon Brown
  • Sangria
  • Gravity Grey

Sorento Performance

Performance is a mixed bag, varying from barely tolerable to pretty darn good. It all depends on the engine you choose. If, for some reason, you settle for the base 185-hp four-cylinder, the Sorento will disappoint you. It is not quick, and lacks the power to tow more than 2,000 lbs - quite abysmal for the segment. On the plus side, it is the slightly more fuel-efficient options.

Thus, prospective buyers would be wise to opt for the available V6 engine, which supplies a more inspiring 290 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque. With the correct towing accouterments, this powertrain allows the SUV to lug around 5,000-pound loads when equipped with the all-wheel drivetrain. This is for more in-line with the segment average. The V6 also gives the crossover a certain degree of haste, allowing it to reach the 60 mph benchmark in around seven and a half seconds. This is only a bit slower than other three-row SUV rivals like the Mazda CX-9 or Kia Telluride, which each make the same sprint in just over seven seconds.

2020 Kia Sorento Three Quarter Front Right Side View 1 Kia
2020 Kia Sorento Side View Kia
2020 Kia Sorento Front View Kia

Engine and Transmission

Two engines are offered to buyers of the Sorento. Standard on the L and LX trims is a 2.4-liter inline-four-cylinder engine that directs a modest 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. This engine comes mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. Overall, this powertrain doesn't impress or inspire. It delivers enough power to get the crossover around town, but the word "quickly" won't come up.

Standard from the S V6 upwards is a 3.3-liter V6 engine that develops are more impressive 290 hp and 252 lb-ft. The extra torque is especially helpful at making the SUV feel more zesty. Busy town intersections will no longer be the bane of your existence as you zip between them, and passing on the highway won't mean waiting for a downhill slope and helping hand from gravity. Every trim level, save for the base L, offers access to an all-wheel drivetrain.

  • Engines
    2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas, 3.3-liter V6 Gas
  • Transmissions
    6-Speed Automatic, 8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The Sorento won't wow you on the road, but it's a capable and hardy SUV, nonetheless. In its recommended V6 guise, the Kia has enough power to be enjoyable to drive, but it lacks the athleticism to ever truly be fun. It won't roll around bends, but it does lean a little too much into turns to inspire any real confidence in its abilities. However, this only really occurs during higher-speed maneuvers for which the Sorento was clearly not designed. In most other regards, it is well-mannered and predictable.

The steering is as light as you'd expect from a family-friendly town SUV. Quick direction changes at low speed shouldn't be a problem and the added heft at higher speeds keep the SUV steady on the road. The brakes are equally capable, with receptive uptake and an impressive stopping distance of 125 ft from 60 mph. The crossover also offers impressive levels of ride comfort, absorbing all but the most jarring of road abrasions in its stride.

Despite the available all-wheel drivetrain, the Sorento doesn't have the ground clearance to be a capable off-roader. Instead, the improved handling offered by four wheels working in unison seems aimed towards tackling difficult weather conditions. Overall, the Kia Sorento inspires confidence in its driver, although it will never tempt you to test its limits.

Sorento Gas Mileage

The SUV's fuel consumption figures are quite on par for the three-row midsize SUV segment. Equipped with the four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drivetrain, the Sorento gets an EPA-estimated 22/29/25 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles. By comparison, the more spacious Kia Telluride gets 20/26/23 mpg and the Mazda CX-9 gets 22/28/24 mpg. Opting for the all-wheel drivetrain sees the Sorento's figures drop slightly to 21/26/23 mpg. The more potent V6 engine is also thirstier, getting 19/26/22 mpg and 19/24/21 mpg with front- or all-wheel-drive, respectively. With a full 18.8 gallons of regular unleaded in the tank, the Kia Sorento can cover up to 470 miles before refueling, in its most efficient configuration.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    18.8 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 22/29 mpg
* 2020 Kia Sorento L FWD

Sorento Interior

The interior of the crossover is surprisingly spacious, and feels even more so on the upper trim levels thanks to the available sunroof. This combines with the already wide windows to create an airy ambiance, even with the third row of seats looming in the rear. While the materials used throughout the cabin are mostly upscale, the simplistic styling works well with the natural roominess to create an uncluttered environment in which to enjoy the comfortable riding experience. The infotainment can be accessed via touchscreen or hard buttons, which are laid out to optimize ergonomics. While it's an impressive interior, though, the Sorento lacks the upmarket feel of the Kia Telluride, which is quickly usurping it as the premier three-row SUV within the Korean automaker's lineup.

2020 Kia Sorento Infotainment System Kia
2020 Kia Sorento Driver Seat Kia
2020 Kia Sorento Rear Passenger Seats Kia
See All 2020 Kia Sorento Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Despite being a seven-seater, there is still quite a lot of space inside the Sorento. Naturally, those up front get preferential treatment, with plenty of head- and legroom in the cockpit. The second row of seats can also accommodate adults of most sizes, thanks to decent head- and legroom. The third-row seats are a mixed bag; there is a fair amount of headroom, but legroom is extremely restrictive, meaning you won't want anyone but smaller children back there, unlike the Telluride with its cavernous rear quarters. The standard driving position is decent, but you'll still want the available adjustable seats. Combined with the large windows around the cabin, this presents drivers with good visibility. Getting in and out of the SUV isn't too difficult thanks to the low step-in height, but the third row of seats can only be accessed via the passenger side.

  • Seating capacity
    7-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

The cabin is well-built using mostly upscale materials. A few hard plastics are present, but they are all kept out of sight. The L and LX come upholstered in cloth or optional YES Essentials cloth, available in either Satin Black or Stone Beige. The upper trim levels come with leather-appointed seats in your choice of Black, Satin Black, Stone Beige, Light Gray, or Mahogany. Interior colors are restricted by the choice of exterior color.

Sorento Trunk and Cargo Space

Three-row SUVs are not known for their capacious trunks, at least with all three rows in place. Even so, the Sorento is even more lacking in cargo space. Behind the third row of seats, only 11.3 cubic feet of space is provided. This is less than similar three-row SUVs like the Mazda CX-9 with its 14.4 cubic feet. By lowering the third row, which folds down in a 50/50 split, 38 cubic feet of space is made available. The second row can also be folded down in a 40/20/40 split to create a 73-cubic-foot flat cargo bay. The standard trunk should be enough for half a dozen shopping bags, but you will need to fold down the third row to get any real use out of it.

Small-item storage around the cabin is pretty straightforward. The door pockets are quite large, and a standard glove compartment and armrest cubby are supplied. Cupholders are present in the first two rows of seats and a wireless charging pad can be used to store a smartphone on the uppermost trim.

2020 Kia Sorento Trunk Space with Seat Folded Kia
2020 Kia Sorento Side View 1 Kia
2020 Kia Sorento Three Quarter Front Left Side View Kia

Sorento Infotainment and Features

Features

The entry-level Sorento comes quite sparsely equipped in order to keep costs down. Standard features comprise air conditioning, cruise control, hill-start assist, a rearview camera, remote keyless entry, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, and two 12-volt power outlets. The LX adds some advanced safety features in the form of blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The mid-tier S V6 trim offers more extensive upgrades: a ten-way power driver seat with two-way lumbar is added, along with heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and Smart Welcome keyless entry. The safety suite is further enhanced with rear sonar and forward collision alert. A panoramic sunroof and power liftgate are installed on the EX, while the interior is upholstered in leather. Additional features on this trim include adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, pedestrian detection, and driver attention alert. The top-tier SX gets a 14-way power driver's seat with four-way lumbar and memory, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote engine start, reverse tilt-down exterior mirrors, front sonar, and a surround-view camera.

Infotainment

The infotainment suite is not overly comprehensive, but it is well laid-out and easy to use. The seven-inch UVO play touchscreen interface is supplemented by a variety of hard buttons in case touchscreens aren't up your alley. Through the interface, you can access the AM/FM radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. A host of other trending apps come installed as standard, too. MP3 playback is facilitated through the auxiliary audio jack or dual USB port. All sound is channeled through the standard six-speaker sound system. Two additional USB charging ports are made available on the LX trim, but most of the upgrades are reserved for the top-tier SX. The final improvements see the sound system replaced with a ten-speaker Harman Kardon setup featuring a subwoofer, while the touchscreen gets a one-inch upgrade. Navigation is added to the suite and a wireless charging pad is offered for your smart devices.

Sorento Problems and Reliability

J.D. Power awards the crossover a dependability score of 78 out of 100. Few complaints have been lodged against the vehicle and it has not been recalled since 2018. In that year it was recalled only twice: once for the risk of the steering column separating, and once for the possibility that the side curtain airbag inflator component may detach during deployment. Kia offers a 60,000-mile/60-month limited warranty and an industry-leading 100,000-mile/120-month powertrain warranty. Roadside assistance is offered for 60,000 miles/60 months.

Sorento Safety

The NHTSA rates the Sorento at five stars for overall crash-test safety. The IIHS awarded the 2019 Sorento its Top Safety Pick+ title and gives the 2020 model ratings of Good for six different crash tests. The 2020 Sorento may yet earn the award again this year, as it has won at least Top Safety Pick every year since 2016.

Key Safety Features

Standard safety features comprise ABS, EBD, stability and traction control, hill start assist, a rearview camera, and six airbags: dual front, front side, and side curtain. Available advanced safety features include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision avoidance, front and rear parking sensors, driver attention alert, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and a surround-view camera.

Verdict: Is the 2020 Kia Sorento a good SUV?

The Sorento seems aimed at a very specific niche market. It offers a lot of passenger space, with seating appointments for up to seven, without sacrificing too much in cargo space. It also does this while maintaining a pretty modest footprint, which is what a lot of town or suburb dwellers will find appealing.

Capable of fitting in the garage as well as squeezing into most parking spaces, the SUV seems perfectly suited to the hustle and bustle of daily life. You're quite likely to be the designated carpooler for the neighborhood little ones, but the crossover may not be as well-equipped to deal with long-weekend getaways. There is limited cargo space with all the seats in place, and nobody will want to be stuck in the third row of seats for more than the briefest of drives.

There is also a trim level to suit almost every need, with the entry-level models sporting very appealing price tags, while the top-tier trims boast near-luxury features. Still, if you need more cargo space on a daily basis, you may be better off looking at the larger Kia Telluride or the more spacious Honda Pilot. Overall, the Kia Sorento is an unobjectionable SUV, ticking all the right boxes to be a competent daily driver, but not exactly excelling.

What's the Price of the 2020 Kia Sorento?

The midsize SUV has a modest price tag for the value it offers. The base L will set you back a mere $26,690. However, advanced safety features are only added from the LX up, requiring a further $1,300 investment. Upgrading to the V6 and eight-speed transmission brings the base cost up to $32,990 on the S V6. Getting behind the wheel of the upper-tier EX Sport requires an investment of $35,290. The top-tier SX is just $10 shy of $40k, but it breaks the mark if you choose to add all-wheel-drive, which adds $1,800. These prices exclude tax, registration, licensing, and a destination charge of $1,045.

2020 Kia Sorento Models

Five trim levels make up the Kia Sorento range: L, LX, S V6, EX Sport, and SX. The L and LX are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that directs 185 hp and 178 lb-ft to the front wheels. A six-speed automatic gearbox rows the gears for these two models. The upper trims get a 3.3-liter V6, developing 290 hp and 252 lb-ft, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive is optional on every trim save the base L.

The entry-level L rides on 17-inch alloy wheels and comes equipped with automatic halogen headlights and LED positioning lights. Standard features comprise cruise control, basic air conditioning, keyless entry, a rearview camera, and two 12-volt power outlets. The infotainment suite consists of a seven-inch UVO play touchscreen display, AM/FM Radio, MP3 playback, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a six-speaker sound system.

The LX adds some much-needed advanced driver-assistance features in the form of blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. It can be upgraded with an all-wheel drivetrain. Two additional USB ports are added to the standard infotainment offering for additional charging capabilities.

S V6 models receive the V6 engine and accompanying accouterments as standard. Dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, a ten-way power driver seat with two-way lumbar, rear sonar, forward collision avoidance, and Smart Welcome advanced keyless entry and ignition are added. From this trim up, 19-inch sport wheels become the standard.

The penultimate EX trim installs a panoramic sunroof and a programmable power liftgate. Leather upholstery replaces the cloth, and lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, pedestrian detection, driver attention alert, and adaptive cruise control flesh out the safety suite.

At the top of the lineup, the SX gets an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 14-way driver's seat with four-way lumbar and memory settings, remote engine start, front sonar, and an advanced surround-view camera. The infotainment suite is enhanced with an eight-inch UVO play touchscreen interface, navigation, a ten-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, and a wireless charging pad.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
L
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$26,990
LX
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$28,090
S V6
3.3-liter V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$33,190
EX V6
3.3-liter V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$35,490
SX V6
3.3-liter V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$40,090
See All 2020 Kia Sorento Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

While the majority of available features are unlocked by upgrading through the trim levels, the LX gets access to the Convenience Package for $2,000 which adds many of the S V6 trim's features without forcing the engine upgrade. These features comprise dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, a ten-way power driver's seat, rear sonar, and forward collision avoidance. A variety of standalone options are available too, including a remote start key ($425), a washer heater ($250), a tow hitch receiver ($395), and side step bars ($495).

What Kia Sorento Model Should I Buy?

Avoiding the lackluster base engine is an absolute must, so you will want to consider any model from the LX up. In our opinion, the S V6 is the sweet spot between affordability and practicality. It gets the more powerful engine as standard, along with a variety of much-needed advanced safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and forward collision avoidance. You could be tempted to opt for the slightly cheaper LX, but then you'll probably want the Convenience Package too. If you're willing to splurge a little more, you may as well go for the S V6, no?

2020 Kia Sorento Comparisons

Hyundai Santa Fe Hyundai
Kia Sportage Kia

2020 Kia Sorento vs Hyundai Santa Fe

The Hyundai Santa Fe shares its underpinnings with its Kia cousin, but it has opted to remove the third row of seats to improve passenger space for the remaining five occupants. However, overall interior space remains mostly the same, with comparable trunk area available when both SUVs are in their five-seat configuration. Each crossover gets the same lackluster 185-hp base engine, but the Sante Fe opts for a turbocharged four-cylinder engine from the middle of the range, which develops 235 hp and 260 lb-ft, instead of a naturally aspirated V6. This gives the Sorento the edge when it comes to performance on the top-spec models. But that's the only area where the Kia definitively bests the Santa Fe. When it comes to value for money, the Hyundai is the smart choice. Advanced safety features are made available to Santa Fe buyers much earlier in the range, meaning they don't have to invest quite as much as they do for the already more expensive Sorento to feel secure behind the wheel.

See Hyundai Santa Fe Review

2020 Kia Sorento vs Kia Sportage

The Kia Sportage is the Sorento's smaller sibling. It shaves off a few inches to make it more appealing for town driving and cramped parking lots, but it sacrifices some space inside to do so. Luckily, or unluckily, depending on your viewpoint, the sacrifices are mostly in cargo space, and it only seats five. Passengers in both rows get to enjoy plenty of head- and legroom, but you are left with only 30.7 cubic feet of trunk volume, eight less than the Sorento. Both Kia SUVs share the same unimpressive 185-hp starter engine, but the smaller Sportage upgrades to a 240-hp turbo four-cylinder on its top-most trim. This means it never gets the same level of power as its big brother, but the zippier handling of a smaller crossover may be worth it. With a higher price tag, the Sorento is a bit more premium inside, with more upscale materials, but the Sportage gets all the same tech features. Unless you really need the third row of seats or the extra eight cubic feet of cargo room, the Sportage might be the more logical buy.

See Kia Sportage Review

Kia Sorento Popular Comparisons

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