2020 Kia Sorento

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

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.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 7 /10
  • Performance 7 /10
  • Fuel Economy 8 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 9 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 9 /10
  • Reliability 9 /10
  • Safety 10 /10
  • Value For Money 9 /10
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2020 Kia Sorento Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2019 Sorento?

There's not much new for the Kia Sorento; mechanically, it remains completely 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 some of the competition

What's the Price of the 2020 Kia Sorento?

The Kia Sorento's price tag is reasonable, for how much it offers. The base L has an MSRP of $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 price 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.

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2020 Kia Sorento Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.4L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
2.4L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
3.3L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
S V6
3.3L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
3.3L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2020 Kia Sorento Trims and Specs

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.

Verdict: Is the 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. The Sorento, much like a smaller car, 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 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?

Check out other Kia Sorento Styles

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, while the Kia Sorento's 3rd row allows for more. 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 car 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

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