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2020 Kia Sorento vs. 2020 Kia Sportage: What’s the Difference?

  • Sportage competes in the compact class, Sorento approaches midsize territory.
  • 2020 Kia Sorento offers seating for seven.
  • Sportage offers a potent optional turbocharged engine.

The Sportage and Sorento are two of Kia’s three SUV offerings for the 2020 model year. The compact Sportage counts vehicles like the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape and Honda CR-V among its main competitors. The Sorento is larger than the Sportage and offers three rows of seats, although it’s a bit smaller than traditional midsize family crossovers like the Honda Pilot, Volkswagen Atlas and Toyota Highlander, putting it in a unique position within the marketplace. Below we’ll compare the Sportage and Sorento in a number of categories to give you a better idea of the ways in which these two SUVs differ.

If space is your number one priority, check out the new Kia Telluride, which makes its debut for 2020, and is better aligned with the 3-row offerings of Toyota, Honda, Ford and the like with regard to space and feature content.

2020 Kia Sorento vs. 2020 Kia Sportage exterior


While the Sportage’s sporty exterior exudes enthusiasm, the Sorento’s design is a little more subdued. Both vehicles wear their own version of Kia’s tiger-nose grille. The Sportage’s front end is almost insect-like, with futuristic-looking headlights and fog lights offered on top-spec SX Turbo models. The Sportage also has a high, curving beltline. The window on the rear hatch is small, underscored by a strip that connects the taillights. Turbocharged models get a dual rear exhaust and large 19-in wheels. Overall, it’s a cohesive, attractive design. See the 2020 Kia Sportage models for sale near you

The 2020 Kia Sorento has been moved down-market to make room for the new Telluride, and thus noteworthy features like the bold fog light array offered on upper trims are no longer available. Still, the top-spec Sorento SX features a chrome grille and LED daytime running lights. Around back, oval-shaped taillights are the only feature of note. V6 models come with 19-in wheels. Altogether, the Sorento’s design is rather conservative in today’s market. See the 2020 Kia Sorento models for sale near you

2020 Kia Sorento vs. 2020 Kia Sportage interior


The Sportage’s center stack is tilted toward the driver. As with the outside, the Sportage’s interior is clean and modern, despite the vehicle having been around for a few years. Newly standard for 2020 is an 8.0-in infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, a driver attention monitor, automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist. Buyers can choose between a black and a gray interior.

The 2020 Kia Sorento’s more conservative design theme carries over to its interior, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. A 7.0-in touchscreen is standard, while upper trims get an 8.0-in screen, either of which comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as standard. As the SX Limited trim has been dropped for 2020, the Nappa leather interior offered in previous years is no longer available. Every Sorento offers room for seven passengers via a third-row seat that folds flat into the rear cargo area.

The Sorento is all around bigger than the Sportage. Cargo space in the Sportage comes in at about 31 cu ft. behind the second row, or 60 cu ft. with the second row folded. The Sorento offers 38 cu ft. with its third row folded and 11 cu ft. with the third row extended. Fold both the second and third rows and the Sorento offers a total of 73 cu ft.

2020 Kia Sorento vs. 2020 Kia Sportage mechanicals


The Kia Sportage was last fully redesigned for the 2015 model year, and for 2020 is offered with two different engine options. Entry-level LX, S and EX models employ an economical 2.4-liter 4-cylinder putting out 181 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. At the top of the range is the SX Turbo, which comes with a potent 2.0-liter turbo four making an impressive 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with a 6-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard — all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional. An AWD Sportage with the basic 2.4-liter 4-cylinder under the hood will return 23 miles per gallon in combined driving, while AWD-equipped turbocharged models earn 21 mpg overall. Neither of these figures is particularly impressive.

The current-generation Sorento came out for the 2016 model year and received a minor facelift for 2019. Base-level L and LX trims use the same 2.4-liter 4-cylinder you get in the Sportage, although in this application it puts out 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. S, EX and SX trims come with a 3.3-liter V6 that puts out 290 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque. 4-cylinder models come with a 6-speed automatic, while 6-cylinder models get an 8-speed. Equipped with optional AWD, 4-cylinder Sorentos return 23 mpg combined, while V6 models earn 21 mpg overall.

2020 Kia Sorento vs. 2020 Kia Sportage tech

Technology, Features & Infotainment

As one of Kia’s main selling points is value, both the Sportage and Sorento are offered with an impressive array of available features.

For 2020, the Sportage gains a standard 8.0-in infotainment screen. Lower trims of the Sorento come with a 7.0-in screen, while upper trims offer the same 8.0-in screen found in the Sportage. Kia’s UVO infotainment interface is pretty good, and both vehicles also come standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Both vehicles also offer an array of ports and outlets for connecting and charging devices — the Sorento even offers an available 3-prong home-style outlet at the back of its center console.

Both the Sportage and Sorento offer an available Harmon Kardon premium audio system, a power lift gate, a panoramic sunroof, LED lighting, an app that enables you to lock and unlock the vehicle from afar, and more.

2020 Kia Sorento vs. 2020 Kia Sportage safety


In their current designs, both the Sportage and Sorento have earned Top Safety Pick awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for their crash test performance. A healthy array of active safety tech is available for both vehicles. Either can be had with automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic detection, adaptive cruise control with low-speed functionality, front and rear parking sensors, lane-departure warning and parking assist. Needless to say, safety shouldn’t be a concern with either of these SUVs.

2020 Kia Sorento vs. 2020 Kia Sportage reliability


While Kias sold during the brand’s early years in the U.S. were plagued with poor quality interiors, modern Kias offer great quality inside and out. Kia also offers the industry’s best factory warranty, with 5 years or 60,000 miles of basic coverage and 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain protection.


As it’s a smaller vehicle, the Kia Sportage is less expensive than the Sorento. A base model Sportage starts at $25,035, while a loaded SX Turbo comes in at around $36,000. A base 2019 Kia Sorento starts at just over $26,000, while a loaded Sorento SX model is priced at about $43,000.

Autotrader’s Advice

These two SUVs compete in different classes. When it comes down to it, both present a good value thanks to Kia’s pricing and warranty offering. The Sportage stands out in the compact segment thanks to its offering of a 240 hp turbocharged engine and upscale features like ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, although its fuel economy is pretty weak overall. The Sorento is unique in that it offers a third row, but is smaller and thus more maneuverable than most 3-row family SUVs, putting it somewhere in between compact and midsize territory. If it’s a full-blown midsize SUV you’re looking for, check out the all-new Kia Telluride, which is better aligned with the 3-row offerings of other automakers with regard to overall size and features. Find a Kia Sorento for sale or Find a Kia Sportage for sale

Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill is an author specializing in competitive analysis, consumer recommendations, and adventure-driven enthusiast content. A lifelong car enthusiast, he worked in the auto industry for a bit, helping Germans design cars for Americans, and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He runs an Instagram account, @MountainWestCarSpotter, which in his own words is "actually pretty good", and has a... Read More about Chris O'Neill

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