Sorento con­tin­ues to up its game

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Salt Wire Wheels - BY RICHARD RUS­SELL

The Kia Sorento has un­der­gone a mid- cy­cle makeover. The ap­pear­ance hasn’t changed much, but there are some sig­nif­i­cant up­grades to the driv­e­train and ad­di­tional fea­tures. The re­sult is a mid­size crossover that con­tin­ues to of­fer ex­cel­lent value and proven re­li­a­bil­ity and longevity.

The facelift in­cludes a new grill and front fas­cia and a new rear bumper cap. In­side the changes are more no­tice­able. They in­clude the steer­ing wheel, gearshift, in­stru­ments, con­sole, in­fo­tain­ment screen and trim on the seats.

Be­neath the hood is the same 2.4-litre four or 3.3-litre six-cylin­der en­gine used pre­vi­ously. Miss­ing is the tur­bocharged 2.0-litre four, binned be­cause hardly any­one bought it. More than 60 per cent of Sorento buy­ers chose the V6.

Be­hind the 185-horse­power four is a re­vised ver­sion of the six-speed au­to­matic while the 290-horse­power V6 is paired with a new eight-speed trans­mis­sion. Kia might be the first Asian man­u­fac­turer to bring a diesel to th­ese shores, pend­ing a fi­nal de­ci­sion later this year. If yes, it is des­tined for the Sorento.

There is a 2019 Sorento for every pur­pose and bud­get, span­ning the $28,000-$45,000 range. It starts with a four­cylin­der, front- wheel- drive LX and tops out with the all­wheel-drive V6 SXL sam­pled for this re­view.

In be­tween lie EX and SX trim lev­els. All but the base model come with all-wheel drive. Five-pas­sen­ger seat­ing is stan­dard on the LX, with three rows and seat­ing for seven on all oth­ers.

The in­te­rior has been up­dated with­out los­ing its best fea­ture – ex­cel­lent er­gonomics. The ex­pected tech­nolo­gies are there, but there are still large but­tons and knobs for fre­quently used func­tions. The user-friendly na­ture ex­tends to the big in­fo­tain­ment screen. All in­clude a rear-view cam­era and An­droid Auto and Ap­ple CarPlay con­nec­tiv­ity.

There are plenty of soft touch sur­faces, in­clud­ing the sup­ple Nappa leather on this trim level. New this year is a pair of earth-tone in­te­rior op­tions on SX and SXLs. They trans­form an oth­er­wise dark in­te­rior.

Kia’s UVO in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem is bet­ter than most in that you don’t have to take an af­ter­noon off to learn its in­tri­ca­cies. The telem­at­ics com­po­nent al­lows you to con­trol a number of func­tions re­motely through your smart phone. An 18-cm touch­screen is stan­dard on LX and EX trims and a 20-cm ver­sion on SX and SXL.

The Sorento is on the small side of the mid-size crossover seg­ment. The good news is this makes it much eas­ier to ma­noeu­vre in ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments, es­pe­cially crowded park­ing lots, tight garages and spa­ces.

The front seats are ter­rific with lots of sup­port and ad­justa­bil­ity al­low­ing you to emerge after sev­eral hours – or a tank of fuel – al­most re­freshed. Again, on the pos­i­tive side, the third row is there for those oc­ca­sions when you want to carry more than five.

With it in place there is 11.3 cu­bic feet of cargo space. Drop it down, from within the cargo hold if you like, and the avail­able space leaps to 38 cu­bic feet. With both sec­ond and third rows out of the way you have ac­cess to 73 cu­bic feet or more than 2,000 litres.

The so­phis­ti­cated V6 is a silky smooth and silent com­pan­ion whether tootling around town or cruis­ing down the Trans Canada. There is not a sur­plus of power and it does have to be wrung out a bit when press­ing hard, be­cause the torque does not peak un­til 5,000 rpm. It pro­vides the abil­ity to tow up to 5,000 lbs.

The ride/han­dling balance has been well thought-out, es­pe­cially in light of the ve­hi­cle’s in­tended au­di­ence. Sub­tle changes to the sus­pen­sion mean there is very lit­tle lean or head toss dur­ing cor­ner­ing or tran­si­tions.

The ride is pleas­antly quiet and sup­ple over all but the nas­ti­est sur­faces. The steer­ing, re­vised for 2019, is a lit­tle light but pro­vides a de­cent amount of feed­back.

Built in the U.S., the Sorento has be­come Kia Canada’s best­seller. Re­vi­sions to the 2019 model, while not read­ily vis­i­ble, should en­sure it re­tains that po­si­tion.

KIA PHOTO

The 2019 Kia Sorento is pow­ered by a 290-horse­power, 3.3-litre, V6 en­gine that makes up to 252 lb.-ft. of torque.

KIA PHOTO

The 2019 Kia Sorento of­fers ver­sa­tile cargo op­tions.

KIA PHOTO

There is a 2019 Sorento for every pur­pose and bud­get, span­ning the $28,000-$45,000 range.

KIA PHOTO

Pas­sen­gers will find plenty of comfort in the Sorento’s sec­ond row.

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