strong safety scores are becoming a nice habit for kia. the 2019 sorento suv has earned a top safety pick plus rating, the highest possible score from the insurance institute for highway safety. this makes the new sorento the eighth model in kia's lineup to score either a top safety pick or top safety pick plus rating in iihs' stringent crash-test regimen.
this includes a total of six crash tests, which measure a car's performance in a variety of front- and side-impact scenarios. iihs also takes into consideration things such as the effectiveness of a vehicle's headlights and the ease of installing child-safety seats, along with the availability of advanced safety features like automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning.
as required for the top safety pick plus designation, the sorento received good scores in small overlap front testing on both the driver and passenger sides (the new-for-2018 passenger-side evaluation currently only requires a minimum score of acceptable), moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats evaluations. it also received a superior rating for its available front crash prevention system (advanced or superior is required) and the requisite good score for its optional headlights.
among market rivals' 2018 versions, only the hyundai santa fe achieved the elevated plus status, though it's still edged out by the sorento having received only a good score in the passenger-side small overlap front crash test compared with the latter vehicle's acceptable score. the 2018 honda pilot and toyota highlander both received top safety pick awards, falling short of plus status due to acceptable scores for headlights. the 2018 ford explorer, meanwhile, received no iihs award due to a marginal score for small overlap front testing, a basic score for front crash protection and a poor score for headlights.
the 2019 sorento joins three other kia models that have earned the prestigious top safety pick plus rating. these crashworthy cars include the 2018 soul hatchback and 2018 forte and 2018 optima sedans. four other kia cars and suvs that have scored a top safety pick recommendation from the iihs include the 2018 cadenza luxury sedan, 2018 sedona minivan, 2018 sportage suv and the previous 2018 sorento.
"this is a significant and fantastic achievement for kia," said orth hedrick, vice president, product planning for kia. "it's an honor to have earned strong safety ratings across so many of our vehicle lines."
starting at $26,980, including a $990 destination charge, the sorento received a modest makeover for 2019 and now comes standard with a third-row seat. other changes include revised front and rear bumpers, a new eight-speed automatic (fitted to the optional v-6), along with upgraded interior trim and cabin tech.
the entry-level sorento l comes powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that sends its power to the front wheels. a more powerful v-6 and all-wheel drive are available on the lx, ex, sx and range-topping sx trim levels.
's editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. in line with 's long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don't accept gifts or free trips from automakers. the editorial department is independent of 's advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.