Editor’s note: You may want to read more of Autotrader’s model vs. model comparison car reviews as well as the 2016 Honda Pilot review, the 2016 Kia Sorento review and Buying a Used Honda Pilot: Everything You Need to Know.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly midsize SUV, we suspect the 2016 Honda Pilot and 2016 Kia Sorento are already on your shopping list. Both were recently updated, and both offer a lot of impressive benefits to shoppers looking for a new family-hauler, including 3-row seating, a wide range of safety features, highly configurable interiors and reasonable pricing.
So which one is better? And which one should you get? To help you answer those questions, we’ve created a close comparison between the Sorento and the Pilot. But first, let’s see what’s new with both SUVs for the 2016 model year.
2016 Honda Pilot Changes
The 2016 Honda Pilot is totally redesigned for 2016. The latest model touts a revised powertrain, new features and a totally new look inside and out. See all 2016 Honda Pilot models available near you
2016 Kia Sorento Changes
The Sorento is also fully redesigned for the 2016 model year. It offers fresh styling, a new interior, new features and revised powertrains compared to the outgoing model. See all 2016 Kia Sorento models available near you
Although reliability experts at J.D. Power have not yet officially rated the Honda Pilot and Kia Sorento, results of the firm’s vehicle dependability study (which groups entire brands, not models) suggest that Honda models tend to offer above-average reliability, while Kia reliability is closer to the industry average.
With that said, the Sorento has the leg up in terms of warranty coverage: While the Honda touts 3 years or 36,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage, the Kia boasts 5 years or 60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage. Meanwhile, the Pilot offers 5 years or 60,000 miles of powertrain coverage, while the Kia touts 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain protection.
The result? This category is a draw. While the Pilot is likely more reliable than the Sorento, the Kia’s warranty ensures that the manufacturer will take care of issues for a much longer time. Your priorities will likely determine which one is more important to you.
The Pilot offers only one engine: a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, which is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission or a 9-speed automatic in higher trim levels. Pilot models with the 6-speed return up to 19 miles per gallon in the city or 27 mpg on the highway, while Pilot models with the 9-speed get 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy.
Meanwhile, the Sorento offers three engines. Most drivers will skip the base-level powertrain, but it’s a 185-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that returns up to 21 mpg city/29 mpg hwy. Drivers who want more power can upgrade to a 240-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which boasts up to 20 mpg city/24 mpg hwy. Finally, shoppers interested in still more power can upgrade to a 290-hp 3.3-liter V6, the same engine used by the Santa Fe, as Kia and Hyundai are corporate partners. With this engine, the Sorento returns 18 mpg city/26 mpg hwy.
The result: Unless you factor in the Sorento’s anemic base-level engine, the Pilot offers better gas mileage — a big deal for shoppers who prioritize fuel economy.
In crash testing carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both the Pilot and the Sorento earned a perfect 5-star overall rating. Meanwhile, in crash testing carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Pilot earned a Top Safety Pick+ designation, compared to a Top Safety Pick rating for the Sorento. The Pilot earned its edge over the Kia thanks to an available automatic forward-collision braking system.
As for safety features, the Pilot offers some major benefits over the Sorento. While both models offer all the basics, including anti-lock brakes and side-curtain airbags, the Pilot touts major additional benefits. For example, the Pilot comes standard with a backup camera, which remains optional in the Sorento, while the Pilot offers lane-keep assist and automatic pre-collision braking, neither of which are available in the Kia. Additionally, the Pilot’s side-curtain airbags cover all three rows of sears, compared to only the first two rows in the Kia.
Admittedly, both models share a few cutting-edge safety features — like forward-collision warning, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-departure warning — but the Pilot has a huge leg up for drivers who are especially interested in safety.
As you might expect from our safety section, the Sorento offers some major benefits over the Pilot in terms of technology. We’ve already covered safety features, but it’s more than just that. Other Pilot benefits include automatic high beams, LED headlights, a heated steering wheel, fuel-saving automatic start/stop technology, a blind spot camera and more.
As a result, we think the Pilot is the better choice for technophile shoppers interested in a midsize SUV.
Although the Pilot beats out the Sorento in virtually all key areas, the Kia wins in a crucial one: pricing. The 2016 Sorento starts at $26,000, while the 2016 Pilot starts at $31,000, a $5,000 difference that remains roughly the same even as you progress through the trim levels. In other words, the Sorento is far more affordable than its Pilot rival.
So is the Sorento a better value? It depends on your exact budget. While the Kia is certainly a better deal, the Pilot offers a lot of major benefits over the Sorento, including more safety features, more equipment, better gas mileage and stronger reliability. As a result, we think this one’s a draw.
To us, the 2016 Honda Pilot is among the best midsize SUVs, while the 2016 Kia Sorento is among the best midsize SUVs for shoppers on a budget. That qualification will likely determine whether you’ll choose the Pilot or the Sorento. We suggest that drivers with bigger budgets should spend more and get the Pilot with its extra safety features, additional technology, better reliability and stronger gas mileage. Budget-minded shoppers, however, will appreciate the Sorento’s base price. If bottom line is your most important priority, the Sorento is an excellent choice.