2019 Kia Sorento crossover aims to be a much cooler ‘Family Truckster’

The modern crossover utility vehicle has become the default choice for many families. Many models offer three rows of seats like a minivan, coupled with the car-like driving dynamics of a station wagon — but unlike wagons and minivans, parents aren’t embarrassed to be seen in them. That makes vehicles like the 2019 Kia Sorento very important for both car shoppers and automakers’ bottom lines.

Kia launched a refreshed version of the Sorento at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show. Stopping short of a full redesign, Kia made some strategic tweaks including revised exterior styling, a new eight-speed automatic transmission, and more tech features. Will that be enough to keep the Sorento in the fight against the likes of the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, and Ford Explorer?

On the outside, Kia tweaked the headlights, fog lights and grille at the front, and the rear bumper, taillights, and exhaust tip at the back. You’d be hard pressed to tell the difference unless you parked the 2019 Sorento next to last year’s model, but this Kia was already pretty good looking, so that isn’t much of a problem.

Under the skin, buyers can choose from two engines that carry over from last year. The base 2.4-liter four-cylinder produces 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque, and the 3.3-liter V6 produces 290 hp and 252 lb-ft. The 2.4-liter engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, while the V6 gets a new-for-2019 eight-speed automatic pulled from the Kia Cadenza sedan. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional.

Kia is dropping the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder previously available on midlevel models, but will replace it with a new diesel engine at some point in the near future. Even with the fallout from the Volkswagen emissions scandal, some automakers still believe diesels are a good way to increase fuel efficiency.

On the tech front, the Sorento gets wireless phone charging (for iPhone 8, iPhone X, and certain Android phones), an optional 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with the company’s Quantum Logic surround sound feature. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is available as well, along with a suite of driver-assist features that includes forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and a surround-view camera system. Lane-keep assist and a driver-attention warning feature are new for 2019.

The 2019 Kia Sorento will arrive in showrooms sometime in the next few months. Pricing information will be released closer to the release date.

Updated: Added more photos

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