The Sorento is Kia’s best-selling vehicle in the United States, but that doesn’t come as a big surprise to owners. The 2019 Sorento is a sleek and stylish SUV with excellent value. Starting at below $26,000, the new Sorento can take you and up to six friends comfortably where you want to go.

I didn’t have six friends with me, but the Sorento took me comfortably on the long ride to Dallas and back during my test week. Drive any car for 7 hours at a stretch and you get a pretty good idea of how comfortable it is and how it handles in various road and weather conditions.

The Sorento is powered by either a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder or a 3.3-liter V6. The big news is that Kia is planning a new diesel engine for the Sorento. Trims include L, LX, EX, SX and SXL. The upper trims can get dent your pocketbook significantly more (up to $46,490 for the loaded top trim), but the Sorento’s $26,000 starting price is certainly attractive.

My test Sorento had the V6 and was equipped with optional AWD. On my drive home from Dallas, it poured down rain all the way from Shreveport to Lafayette. As the drive stretched into hours of darkness, the rain fell harder and I kept thinking how glad I was to be in the Sorento with AWD. Despite conditions, I felt in control and confident. The Sorento’s frame and suspension system are solid with 53 percent advanced high-strength steel. I didn’t know it on the road home from Dallas, but the 2019 Sorento has already earned 5-star safety ratings from the government.

The 4-cylinder engine comes in the L and LX trims and develops 185 horsepower and 178 lb.-ft. of torque. The V6 is available in the LX, EX, SX and SXL trims, and delivers 290 horsepower and 252 lb.-ft. of torque. The lower trims get a 6-speed automatic transmission and the upper trims get a new smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic for 2019. Last year’s 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine was discontinued.

Decidedly more upscale, the Sorento cabin is roomy and the seats comfortable. Kia says the steering wheel is newly designed for a more tactile grip, and the instrument cluster has sharper graphics. Changes were also made to the air conditioner vents to increase air flow and direction. Seemingly small changes like these can make a big difference in comfort for the driver and passengers.

Every 2019 Sorento that rolls off the Georgia assembly line has three rows of seating. Front seat occupants have 39.5 inches of headroom, and second-row passengers get 39.3 inches. Third-row headroom is a little shorter at 36.3 inches. Legroom in row two is a generous 39.4 inches and in row 3 it’s 31.7 inches.

Cargo space behind row 3 is just 11.3 cubic feet, but fold the second row down and cargo space increases to 38 cubic feet. Fold down both rows and the Sorento has 73 cubic feet. The cabin feels roomy because it is.

The new Sorento also is packed with technology, including a wireless charging tray for compatible mobile phones. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported, and there’s an upgraded navigation system in the higher trims. A 630-watt, 10-speaker harman kardon stereo system adds to the premium cabin experience.

When it comes to safety, the 2019 Sorento gets 5-stars in frontal and side crashes in front and rear seats. The Sorento gets 4-stars for rollover protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn’t yet tested the 2019 Sorento, but the 2018 model was a Top Safety Pick Plus with a near-perfect score.

Kia keeps its eye on the ball with the new Sorento, and the driving public will appreciate that. If you’re in the market for an SUV – and these days that’s what everyone seems to want – you should take a long look at the Sorento. It’s a safe, affordable ride with a comfortable cabin and it’s built right here in America.

2019 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

Engine:

3.3-liter V6

Horsepower/Torque:

290/252 lb.-ft.

Transmission:

8-speed automatic

Price:

$46,490 plus freight

EPA mileage estimates:

19 mpg city/24 mpg highway/21 mpg combined

Estimated highway range:

395 miles