Crossover & Midsize

2020 Kia Sorento vs. Honda Pilot: It’s a Closer Call Than You Think

If you have a family, owning an SUV that can seat five or more people comfortably is important. For that kind of seating capability, car buyers are usually interested in SUVs with a third row. For the 2020 model year, there are two such SUVs that seem to be all the rave among reviewers: the 2020 Honda Pilot and the 2020 Kia Sorento.

While both of these SUVs share a lot in common, there are several significant differences that mean a lot in the end. This brief comparison review will cover the different powertrains, what kind of nifty features they offer standard, and what makes them enjoyable to drive, thanks to some help from Car Buying Strategies.

The 2020 Honda Pilot

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The Pilot exhibits the flexibility that Honda is known for. Not only does it provide a spacious cabin but the ride is quite smooth as well. It has great fuel economy with 19 miles per gallon in the city and 27 on the highway, averaging out at around 20.3. The 2020 Honda Pilot comes standard with plenty of convenient storage areas for all sorts of small items. 

As for the negatives, people have complained about the 9-speed automatic transmission not being as smooth as the 6-speed automatic transmission. Additionally, the collision warning system is reportedly overly sensitive, as well as a finicky adaptive cruise control system. And about that third-row seating: drivers have stated that the access way is too narrow.

The 2020 Kia Sorento

The Kia Sorento has its fair share of noteworthy qualities as well. First, the E and SX trims are no longer in production and aren’t available for this model year. It did get revamped front and rear decorative panels. Reviewers have described its interior as being “quiet and chic.” Of all the midsize crossover SUVs, the Kia Sorento is considered to be family-friendly, offering plenty of standard features. Its best-in-class warranty from Kia is also a huge plus.

On the downside, the 2020 Kia Sorento’s third-row seating might be perfect for children but is cramped for adults. Furthermore, when it comes to space, the cargo area offers less of it than its competitors. Unlike the Honda Pilot, all the Sorento’s engine options lack enough power to make it an exciting drive. This even includes the V6 model.

The Honda Pilot and Kia Sorento’s powertrains and drivability

The Honda Pilot comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. It also comes standard with a 6-speed automatic transmission, while a 9-speed automatic is an option. As for the Pilot Touring and trims above that, the 9-speed automatic transmission comes standard. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard, while all-wheel drive (AWD) is an option for all trims levels. However, AWD comes standard with the Pilot Elite and Black Edition.

The 2020 Kia Sorento provides buyers several powertrains to choose from. The L and LX trims have a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. Both trims feature a 6-speed automatic transmission. Two trims above that, you have the S and EX Sport with a 3.3-liter V6 that produces 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. Both trims also come with a 6-speed automatic transmission. All trims excluding the L have the option of AWD, while FWD comes standard.

The bottom line

Reviewers across the board have said good things about both the Honda Pilot and Kia Sorento in terms of drivability. This includes their utility, the interior, and exterior build quality, as well as the tech functionality.

But when it comes to engine power and transmission performance, the Honda Pilot seems to outrank the Kia Sorento. The 2020 Sorento goes 0 to 60 in only 8.3 seconds; the 2020 Honda Pilot does 0 to 60 in seven seconds flat. According to some reviews, the only way to get some pep in the Sorento’s step is by putting in “Sport Mode,” but even then the Pilot performs better. Both SUVs do have a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, which is fairly good.

As for safety, the 2020 Kia Sorento received an overall rating of 5 out of 5 stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, it only got four stars on the rollover test. As for the 2020 Honda Pilot, the NHTSA gave it overall five stars but only four stars for the overall front passenger side.

The Kia Sorento might not be quite as popular as the Honda Pilot, but it can match it almost stride for stride in a matchup for the 2020 models. Small differences like the ones above might sway you one way or another, but in the end it’s ultimately dealer’s choice about which one will suit your family better.