2020 Honda Pilot vs. 2019 Kia Sorento

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition has standard HondaLink Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or 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 Pilot and the Sorento have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Honda Pilot is safer than the Kia Sorento:

Pilot

Sorento

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

149

235

Neck Stress

189 lbs.

209 lbs.

Neck Compression

46 lbs.

81 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

46/243 lbs.

27/330 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH, results indicate that the Honda Pilot is safer than the Kia Sorento:

Pilot

Sorento

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.6 inches

.7 inches

Abdominal Force

101 G’s

108 G’s

Hip Force

269 lbs.

309 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

42 G’s

58 G’s

Hip Force

304 lbs.

818 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

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

There are over 35 percent more Honda dealers than there are Kia dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Pilot’s warranty.

Reliability

The engine in the Pilot has a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engines in the Sorento have dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.

Engine

The Pilot’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 95 more horsepower (280 vs. 185) and 84 lbs.-ft. more torque (262 vs. 178) than the Sorento’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl. The Pilot’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 10 lbs.-ft. more torque (262 vs. 252) than the Sorento’s optional 3.3 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the Honda Pilot is faster than the Kia Sorento:

Pilot

Sorento 4 cyl.

Sorento V6

Zero to 60 MPH

6.2 sec

9.1 sec

7.2 sec

Quarter Mile

14.8 sec

16.9 sec

15.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

93.9 MPH

82.7 MPH

89.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

Pilot

FWD

9-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/27 hwy

6-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

19 city/27 hwy

AWD

9-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

6-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

18 city/26 hwy

Sorento

FWD

8-spd

3.3 DOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

AWD

8-spd

3.3 DOHC V6

19 city/24 hwy

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Pilot’s fuel efficiency. The Sorento doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’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 Pilot 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 nine-speed automatic is standard on the Honda Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Sorento.

Brakes and Stopping

The Pilot stops much shorter than the Sorento:

Pilot

Sorento

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

130 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Pilot has larger tires than the Sorento (245/60R18 vs. 235/65R17).

The Pilot LX/EX/EX-L’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Sorento L/LX’s standard 65 series tires. The Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’s tires have a lower 50 series profile than the Sorento SX/SXL’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Pilot LX/EX/EX-L has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Sorento L/LX. The Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’s 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels on the Sorento SX/SXL.

The Pilot has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Sorento doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Pilot (except LX)’s optional 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 Pilot’s wheelbase is 1.6 inches longer than on the Sorento (111 inches vs. 109.4 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Pilot is 2.1 inches wider in the front and 1.7 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the Sorento.

The Pilot Elite 4WD handles at .83 G’s, while the Sorento LX pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Pilot Elite 4WD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Sorento LX (27.5 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .59 average G’s).

Chassis

The Pilot 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 Pilot has standard seating for 8 passengers; the Sorento can only carry 7.

The Pilot has .6 inches more front headroom, 2.4 inches more front hip room, 2.9 inches more front shoulder room, .9 inches more rear headroom, .9 inches more rear hip room, 4 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.6 inches more third row headroom, .2 inches more third row legroom, 3.2 inches more third row hip room and 4.8 inches more third row shoulder room than the Sorento.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Pilot’s middle and third row seats recline. The Sorento’s third row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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

Pilot

Sorento

Behind Third Seat

18.5 cubic feet

11.3 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

55.9 cubic feet

38 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

109 cubic feet

73 cubic feet

The Pilot has a standard third row seat which folds flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The Sorento doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.

Towing

The Pilot’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the Sorento’s (3500 vs. 2000 pounds).

Ergonomics

The Pilot’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.

If the windows are left open on the Pilot the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or 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.

The Pilot’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 Pilot’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 Pilot Elite/Black Edition 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 Pilot (except LX/EX)’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.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Pilot owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Pilot will cost $95 to $2115 less than the Sorento over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Pilot is less expensive to operate than the Sorento because it costs $418 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the Pilot than the Sorento, including $5 less for front brake pads, $132 less for a timing belt/chain and $163 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The Honda Pilot has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

Pilot

Sorento

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

TRUE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its January 2016 issue and they ranked the Honda Pilot Elite 4WD higher than the Kia Sorento LX.

The Honda Pilot outsold the Kia Sorento by 48% during 2018.

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

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