No one needs to look very hard for a competent 3-row SUV. The 2020 Kia Sorento is one of several capable SUVs furnished for as many as seven occupants. Part of what separates this Kia from its peers is its value story. Well-contented, the affordable and comfortable Sorento is a crossover for families looking for a lot of bang for the buck. And there is that terrific warranty, too.
We had our first taste of this Kia Sorento on the roads of southern Georgia. Although they didn’t provide an opportunity to put the Sorento’s available all-wheel drive (AWD) to the test, they did serve to remind us just how comfortable and drivable the Sorento is. They also, through no coincidence, allowed us to spend a little time at Kia’s highly advanced West Point, Georgia, plant where our Sorento — as well as roughly one million others — was assembled. After a morning spent touring the plant, we were not surprised that the 2020 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (IQS) ranked the Kia brand as number two in reported problems and placed the Sorento at the top of its segment in the same survey.
What’s New for 2020?
For 2020, the Sorento has slightly refreshed exterior styling plus the addition of a new S trim as an affordable V6 model. The SX-Premium trim has been dropped and now the Sorento SX is the top trim of this crossover. Also, a few option packages are no longer available, which simplifies the Sorento lineup. See the 2020 Kia Sorento models for sale near you
What We Like
- Upscale interior
- Refined driving dynamics
- Top-notch technology features
- Third-row seat standard
- Reassuring warranty
What We Don’t
- Small cargo area
- Most driver-assist/safety tech only offered on upper grades
The 2020 Kia Sorento L and LX models come with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. Also carried over from last year is a 6-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive (FWD) and 21 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with AWD.
Standard on all other grades is a 3.3-liter V6 rated at 290 hp and 252 lb-ft. An 8-speed automatic transmission swaps the cogs. The V6’s fuel economy is 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy FWD and 17 mpg city/23 mpg hwy AWD.
Kia promises a diesel is in the works.
Standard Features & Options
The 2020 Sorento is offered in L, LX, S, EX and SX trim levels. The V6 becomes standard on the S model on up with the L and LX trims being powered by the 4-cylinder. AWD is available on any trim except L for $1,800. All prices listed below are for FWD models.
The Sorento L ($26,690) includes a decent roster of standard items, notably 17-in aluminum wheels, auto on/off headlights, hill-start control, tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, 3-row seating, second-row autofolding seats, air conditioning, power accessories, keyless remote entry, a rearview camera, a 6-speaker audio system with a 7-in touchscreen, a USB port, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite-radio capability and full Bluetooth connectivity.
The LX ($27,990) adds such luxuries as additional sound-deadening measures, two quick-charge USB ports, one-touch auto-up/down power windows in the first and second rows and blind-spot collision warning with cross-traffic alert.
The LX Convenience Package ($2,000) adds dual-zone automatic climate control, rear park assist, a 10-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, low profile roof rails and forward-collision mitigation.
The S ($32,990) is a new trim for 2020 and is the new most affordable way to get a Sorento with a V6. Other than the upgraded engine, its featured content is similar to a Sorento LX with the Convenience Package plus 19-in wheels, third-row air conditioning with controls, blind spot collision mitigation, forward- and rear-collision mitigation and a smart key with push-button start.
The EX ($35,290) throws in adaptive cruise control, a foot-actuated power rear lift gate, leather upholstery, a 7-in LCD driver information center, forward-collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, a panoramic sunroof, projector-beam front fog lamps and driver attention warning.
The SX ($39,990) upgrades to a 14-way power driver’s seat with 4-way power lumbar support, a memory driver’s seat, Harman/Kardon 10-speaker premium audio, LED taillights, a chrome and stainless steel exterior trim, forward park distance warning, power-folding mirrors, a surround-view monitor, an 8-in UVO infotainment system with navigation and HD radio, and wireless charging.
The 2020 Sorento comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain). Available safety technologies include a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking, forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist.
In crash tests conducted by the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Sorento received a top score of Good in every category, a Superior rating for crash avoidance and mitigation and was awarded a Top Safety Pick+ award. In government testing, the Sorento received the highest score of five stars overall.
Behind the Wheel
In our interior evaluation, we were struck by the Sorento’s premium character. The materials are almost uniformly nice, with ample soft-touch surfaces, and there’s a vibe of cohesiveness and refinement that was absent in earlier models. The gauges are crisp and clear, while the optional 8-in touchscreen features great graphics and intuitive operation. In the Sorento’s higher trims, you’ll get a legitimate alternative to some luxury crossovers we could name. This Kia is that good. One of our few gripes: The cargo area is pretty small compared to the rest of this segment.
On the road, the Sorento’s accurate steering system (with three levels of adjustable effort) inspires confidence, and ambient noise levels are generally quite low. The ride is smooth and supple on most surfaces. Under the hood, the base engine is a bit lacking in acceleration and doesn’t improve fuel economy all that much. The V6 has plenty of power and is well-mated to the 8-speed automatic. The base engine is okay for commuting, but the V6 is better-suited for regular family hauling duties.
Other Cars to Consider
Used BMW X5 — Looking for more luxury and power? A certified pre-owned 2012-2015 BMW X5 might hit the spot. There’s even a diesel engine option.
The 2020 Sorento EX offers great value, providing extensive standard features without breaking the bank. It’s nicely equipped and we like that it now comes standard with the strong V6 engine. Opt for AWD and you can tow up to 5,000 pounds. Find a Kia Sorento for sale