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Comparison: 2019 Kia Sorento vs 2019 Nissan Pathfinder

Auto123 compares the 2019 Kia Sorento and the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder

Once upon a time it was a rugged off-road vehicle, but today the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder is, as much as anything else, an alternative to the minivan. The Kia Sorento, which was one of the brand's first really popular vehicles with its Mercedes look-alike styling, has become one of the Korean automaker’s best-selling vehicles. Which one gives you the most for your dollar?

2019 Kia Sorento

Photo: Kia

Kia surprised many in 2016 with a new Sorento that delivered levels of refinement and quality uncommon for a mainstream SUV in this price range. The South Korean manufacturer pushes the bar a little higher for 2019 with an update offering new styling, a new transmission... and one less engine in the product offering.

The new transmission is an 8-speed automatic unit delivered with the 3.3L (290-hp) V6 engine, which is now standard in all versions except for the LX 2WD version. The 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo that was available in some versions is no longer on the menu. The remaining 4-cylinder is a 2.4L (185 hp) with a 6-speed automatic transmission and FWD. Aside from this entry-level variant, all Sorento models are equipped with standard all-wheel drive. 

Our review of the 2019 Kia Sorento

Read also our Comparison of the 2019 Kia Sorento vs the 2019 Mazda CX-9

Photo: Kia

The LX is the only Sorento with a five-seat interior; all other versions have a three-row cabin for seven people. There’s also a new instrument cluster, an updated centre console and steering wheel, upgraded navigation system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity and induction charging for cell phones. New safety features for 2019 include a driver warning and lane maintenance assistance.

The 2.4L engine is a little borderline for a vehicle of this size, but it still carries the big Sorento with conviction, at least when the vehicle is traveling light. The V6 is the engine of choice, even if the fuel economy is higher. This is one of the few vehicles in this category whose interior gives the impression of belonging to a more luxurious category.

The LX version incorporates climate control, 6-speaker audio system, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, manual driver’s-seat adjustment and reverse sensors. 

Photo: Kia

The EX brings a host of extras, including 18-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, 110-volt audio-screen outlet, keyless entry, sunshades on the rear doors, heated steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 14-way power driver's seat. 

SX models feature 19-inch wheels, a premium stereo, 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, leather seats and ventilated front seats.

2019 Nissan Pathfinder

Photo: Nissan

In the 1980s, the Nissan Pathfinder was part of the original cohort of sport utility vehicles, competing for off-road prowess with models like the Jeep Cherokee, Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Blazer. All of those early birds have changed a lot, of course, in fact truck-based utilities have almost disappeared from our roads to make way for crossovers. Nissan has adapted and redesigned the Pathfinder which is now an alternative to the van. While the driving sensation is closer to that of a sedan, the Pathfinder has retained a certain robustness with excellent towing capacity.

For 2019, this evolution continues as the Pathfinder gains parking sonar sensors and standard USB-C outlets in all trim levels, while the SL and Platinum versions are now equipped with standard LED lights.

Photo: Nissan

The power still comes from a 3.5L V6 that develops 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. Power is delivered via Nissan's continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The finishing levels are S, SV, SL and Platinum. The S is basically a FWD model and can be optioned with four-wheel drive, while the other versions are delivered with AWD the standard configuration.

It’s characterized by its comfortable drive that some find too soft, and performance that’s greatly diminished by the CVT unit, which is certainly relatively economical but seems a total stranger to the notion of pleasurable driving.

The Pathfinder arrives pretty well equipped in the Platinum version, featuring 20-inch wheels, panoramic sunroof, 360-degree exterior camera system, keyless entry, electric hands-free liftgate, intelligent cruise control, power-adjustable steering column, leather seats, heated and ventilated front seats, second-row heated seats and 13-speaker audio system with rear-seat entertainment system. 

Photo: Nissan

If that's not enough for $49,298, you can choose the Infiniti QX60, which is mechanically the same, but offers equipment and some other high-end features not found in a Pathfinder.

All Pathfinders come standard with tire-pressure monitoring and automatic emergency braking, but the SV adds Blind Spot Monitoring with a rear cross traffic alert and a more advanced tire pressure system that displays the pressure of each tire and includes Nissan's easy-to-fill inflation system.

Photo: Nissan / Kia

Advantage Sorento

The Sorento comes at a more affordable base price and with a better guarantee, a more favorable price/equipment ratio and better fit and finish.

Advantage Pathfinder

If you have to tow, the Pathfinder is able to pull 6,000 pounds vs 5,000 for the Sorento. The Pathfinder is also the one that will be most comfortable in off-road conditions and gets slightly better fuel consumption than the Sorento.

Similarities

In both cases, the third row available is for children. In terms of consumption, the numbers are very close and same thing for the price of high-end models that sell for similar prices.

Verdict

Even though we enjoyed the Nissan V6, the CVT box spoils some of the fun. However, for towing, it's the best choice. If not, we must choose the Kia Sorento that dominates in the other categories. With the V6, this is one of the best choices in the mid-size utility class.

Photo: Kia / Nissan

2019 Kia Sorento

We like

Soundproofing
8-speed automatic transmission
Reasonable pricing

We like less
Cargo capacity could be better
4-cylinder engine is a little borderline
Fuel economy a little high

2019 Nissan Pathfinder

We like

Comfort
Interior space
Towing capacity
Reasonable fuel economy

We like less

Numb driving
Generic style
Technologically a little behind

Photo: Kia / Nissan

Specifications

... 2019 Kia Sorento 2019 Nissan Pathfinder 
 Transmission6- or 8-speed autoCVT
 
Drivetrain
FWD or AWDFWD or AWD
  4-cyl2.4L (FWD)AWD
 Fuel economy (city)10,7 L/ 100 km12.1L/100 km
 Fuel economy (highway)8.2L/100 km8.9L/100 km
  6-cyl AWD 
  12.5L/100 km 
     9.7L/100 km 
 Fuel Tank71 L 74 L
 Engine  
 TypeGasGas
 Output185 hp284 hp
 Torque178 lb-ft259 lb-ft
 Cylinders4 cylinders6 cylinders
 Displacement2.4L3.5L
    
 TypeGas 
 Outout290 hp 
 Torque252 lb-ft 
 Cylinders6-cylinder 
 Displacement3.3L 
 Capacity  
 Cargo space1,077 L, 2,066 L1,201 L, 2,260 L
 Towing capacity2,267 kg (V6)2,722 kg
 Dimensions  
 Length4760 mm 5042 mm
 Width1890 mm 1963 mm
 Height1690 mm 1766 mm 
 Wheelbase2780 mm 2900 mm 
    
 Warranty5 yrs/100,000 km3 yrs/60,000 km
 
Price
$27,995  to $48,865 $33,198 to $49,298 
    

 

Photo: Nissan / Kia