2020 Ford Explorer vs. 2019 Kia Sorento

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the Explorer and Sorento have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Explorer has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Sorento’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Explorer has standard Post Collision Braking, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Sorento doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Explorer ST/Platinum has standard Reverse Brake Assist that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Sorento doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Explorer has standard 911 Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Sorento doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Explorer and the Sorento have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive and around view monitors.

Warranty

The Explorer’s 5 year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the Sorento runs out after 100,000 miles.

There are almost 4 times as many Ford dealers as there are Kia dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Explorer’s warranty.

Reliability

The Explorer has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The Sorento doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.

Engine

The Explorer has more powerful engines than the Sorento:

Horsepower

Torque

Explorer 2.3 turbo 4 cyl.

300 HP

310 lbs.-ft.

Explorer 3.3 DOHC V6 hybrid

318 HP

322 lbs.-ft.

Explorer Platinum 3.0 turbo V6

365 HP

380 lbs.-ft.

Explorer ST 3.0 turbo V6

400 HP

415 lbs.-ft.

Sorento 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

185 HP

178 lbs.-ft.

Sorento 3.3 DOHC V6

290 HP

252 lbs.-ft.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Explorer gets better fuel mileage than the Sorento:

MPG

Explorer

RWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/28 hwy

AWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/27 hwy

3.0 turbo V6

18 city/24 hwy

ST 3.0 turbo V6

18 city/24 hwy

Sorento

FWD

3.3 DOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

AWD

3.3 DOHC V6

19 city/24 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the Explorer Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Sorento doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Explorer’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Sorento doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Explorer V6 Turbo’s standard fuel tank has 1.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the Sorento (20.2 vs. 18.8 gallons).

The Explorer has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Sorento doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Ford Explorer, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Sorento.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Explorer’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Sorento:

Explorer

Explorer ST

Explorer ST opt.

Sorento

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

13.6 inches

14.3 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

12.4 inches

12.8 inches

13.8 inches

12 inches

The Explorer ST’s optional front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Sorento are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Explorer has larger standard tires than the Sorento (255/65R18 vs. 235/65R17). The Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Sorento (275/45R21 vs. 235/65R17).

The Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Sorento SX/SXL’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Explorer has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Sorento L/LX. The Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional 21-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels on the Sorento SX/SXL.

Having a flat tire is dangerous, inconvenient and expensive. The self-sealing tires available on the Explorer can automatically seal most punctures up to 3/16 of an inch, effectively preventing most flat tires. The Sorento doesn’t offer self-sealing tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Explorer has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Sorento’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Explorer’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Sorento doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Explorer’s wheelbase is 9.7 inches longer than on the Sorento (119.1 inches vs. 109.4 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Explorer is 2.7 inches wider in the front and 2.3 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the Sorento.

For greater off-road capability the Explorer has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Sorento (7.9 vs. 7.3 inches), allowing the Explorer to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

The front grille of the Explorer (except 3.3 V6 non-Hybrid) uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Sorento doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Explorer Hybrid uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Sorento doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Explorer has 1.2 inches more front headroom, 2.5 inches more front hip room, 2.7 inches more front shoulder room, 1.2 inches more rear headroom, 2.7 inches more rear hip room, 3.9 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.6 inches more third row headroom, .5 inches more third row legroom and 1.8 inches more third row shoulder room than the Sorento.

Cargo Capacity

The Explorer’s cargo area provides more volume than the Sorento.

Explorer

Sorento

Behind Third Seat

18.2 cubic feet

11.3 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

47.9 cubic feet

38 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

87.8 cubic feet

73 cubic feet

The Explorer’s cargo area is larger than the Sorento’s in every dimension:

Explorer

Sorento

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

20.8”/49.8”/83.9”

14.7”/44.7”/78”

Max Width

59”

53.5”

Min Width

48.1”

41.2”

Height

33.7”

33.1”

Both the Explorer and the Sorento have standard second row automatic folding seats. The Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum’s third row seats also fold up or down at the press of a button. The Sorento doesn’t offer automatic folding third row seats.

Towing

The Explorer’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Sorento’s (3000 vs. 2000 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Kia Sorento AWD is only 5000 pounds. The Explorer offers up to a 5600 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the Explorer is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Sorento. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

The Explorer’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Sorento’s parking brake has to released manually.

The Explorer’s front power windows open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Sorento’s standard passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

On a hot day the Explorer’s driver can lower all the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Sorento can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Explorer’s exterior PIN entry system. The Sorento doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system.

The Explorer’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Sorento’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Explorer’s standard side window demisters help clear frost or condensation from the side windows in the winter. The Sorento doesn’t even offer side window demisters, so the driver may have to wipe the windows from the outside to gain side vision.

The Explorer ST/Platinum has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Sorento offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The Explorer has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Sorento and isn’t available on the Sorento L.

The Explorer’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Sorento L doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

The Explorer’s available GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Sorento’s navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

The Explorer ST/Platinum’s Active Park Assist 2.0 can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Sorento doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

The Ford Explorer outsold the Kia Sorento by over two to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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