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The 2019 Sorento comes with many safety and tech features that are often found on luxury cars.

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Kia, reputed for value pricing, is instead emphasizing connectivity and technology features in its revamped 2019 Kia Sorento. Besides standard items such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, the mid-size SUV has a built-in wireless charging station.

“One thing we fought really hard to have on the Sorento was the wireless charging station,” said Ryan Yu, manager of product planning at Kia Canada. “It’s a convenient feature – everybody has a cellphone. You don’t need to have cables. You just charge it by putting it onto the pad.”

Wireless charging stations in other vehicles in the past haven’t seemed to function consistently, but this one does, immediately lighting up and charging within seconds of placing the iPhone onto the wireless charging pad. It’s a small feature, but a welcome one. The station isn’t available on the base model, but you can get it on the next models up, starting with the LX AWD trim.

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Another tech feature is the UVO Intelligence system allowing you to connect to your car via smartphone. Download an App onto your phone and you can start the Sorento remotely by pushing a few buttons on your phone. You can lock or unlock your doors remotely from anywhere in the world because it has no-range limit. If you forget where you’ve parked, it can find your car using the app.

An automatic collision-notification system automatically calls for help if you get into an accident. And if you have car troubles – for example, a check-engine light comes on – you can remotely scan your vehicle with your phone, get the diagnostic Trouble Code and send it to your dealership for more info.

The UVO system is free for five years. Like a warranty, it can also be transferred to another owner. However, it’s available only on the V-6 models.

The Sorento remains a competent SUV with pleasant road manners and seating for up seven people.

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

A long list of safety features are available, too, many found on luxury cars including smart auto high beams that dim the headlights as needed, depending on oncoming traffic, and driver-attention alert, which warns you to take a break when driver fatigue sets in.

Lane-keeping assist, also new, detects if you’re getting too close to the white lane markers and applies corrective adjustments to keep the vehicle from drifting.

Advanced smart cruise control maintains a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you by automatically adjusting the throttle and braking as needed – even in stop-and-go traffic.

These safety tech features are available exclusively on the SXL V-6 Limited, and with MSRP of $48,865.

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Blind-spot detection and rear-cross traffic alert, which warns of traffic when you’re reversing, is on a mid-model EX V6 AWD trim, which costs $38,365.

When it comes to safety tests, the 2019 Sorento excels. In crash tests from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it received top marks – a Top Safety Pick+ designation, the highest ranking in crash tests, for front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests.

While the safety, technology and connectivity features are impressive, they can push the price up fast from the affordable and attractive $27,895 base model price. So it’s not the “deal” that Kias are generally known for, but the Sorento remains a competent SUV with pleasant road manners and seating for up seven people.

Tech specs

  • Base price/as tested: $27,995/$48,865
  • Engine: 2.4L 4-cylinder with 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque or 3.3L V6 engine with 290 and 252 lb-ft of torque
  • Transmission/drive: 6-speed automatic transmission or 8-speed automatic/FWD or AWD drive
  • Fuel economy, 2.4-litre AWD (litres/100 km): 11.2/city; 9.0 highway
  • Alternatives: Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Edge

Looks

The Sorento has a redesigned front fascia, new LED headlamps, LED tail lamps and wheel designs.

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Could be bolder in its exterior design. Still, it’s nicely sculpted with a redesigned front fascia, new LED headlamps, LED tail lamps and wheel designs. Its body is long – about 40 mm longer than the last version. Too bad it wasn’t available in more vibrant colours besides white, black and grey so it can really stand out from the crowd of SUVs on the market.

Interior

Clean, uncluttered interior that’s well laid out with a restyled steering wheel and gear shifter knob. My tester’s eight-inch is useful and easy to navigate through; the graphics are sharp and the touch screen makes it quick to access functions. Traditional dials and buttons for the HVAC system, heated steering wheel, and heated seats are a welcome addition. Cruise-control buttons on the steering wheel are well placed and easy to use. Love the option of having a five- or seven-seat configuration. The third row is tight for adults; better suited for kids. As an adult, it’s hard to get into the third-row seats as well.

Performance

There are two engine options for the Sorento: a 185-horsepower 2.4L four-cylinder engine and a 290-horsepower 3.3L V6 engine.

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Two engines are available: a 185-horsepower 2.4L four-cylinder engine and a 290-horsepower 3.3L V6 engine. The new eight-shift automatic on the V-6 changes gears smoothly and seamlessly. It also helps save fuel – up to 8 per cent, according to Kia executives. Pleasant road manners on the V6 with a quiet, comfortable cabin. The 3.3L engine also has a towing capacity of 5,000 lbs.

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Technology

Besides standard items such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, the Sorento has a built-in wireless charging station and a long list of safety features.

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Plenty of cool connectivity technology such as UVO Intelligence, wireless charging and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Nice to see more-expensive tech, such as lane-keep assist and advanced smart cruise control, trickling into cheaper, mainstream vehicles. Too bad it’s not offered on all trims.

Cargo

The rear seats fold down easily to create a long, flat cargo floor.

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Cargo capacity in the 5-seat version is 1,099 litres; in the 7-seater its 320 litres with all three rows in use and 1,077 litres when you drop the third row. The rear seats fold down easily by pulling on a long tab and then pushing it down. It creates a long, flat cargo floor. A hidden compartment under the floor also stores the cargo cover securely, when it’s not needed.

The verdict: 8

Pleasant road manners, practical seating for up to seven, and filled with cool technology. But cut the number of trims (currently there are eight) to half and add more safety items to the entry-level models and Sorento would be a home run.

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

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