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2020 Kia Sorento vs Toyota Highlander

2020 Kia Sorento vs Toyota Highlander

2020 Sorento vs Highlander - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

As three-row crossover SUVs with midsize platforms, the 2020 Kia Sorento and 2020 Toyota Highlander can be fairly compared. Designed for suburban families, both models have similar towing capabilities and all-weather handling. In terms of safety, the Kia Drive Wise technology closely matches the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 technology.

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The Powertrain

The 2020 Sorento's base-level 2.4 L engine block produces up to 185 horsepower at 6,000 RPM. When working at 4,000 RPM and above, this I-4 powertrain generates 178 pound-feet of torque. Displacing 3.3 L, the V6 engine block is rated at 290 hp when the tachometer reaches 6,400 RPM. Enhanced by the Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing, this six-cylinder propulsion unit cranks out 252 lb-ft of torque at 5,300 RPM. Gasoline direct injection (GDI) is standard in this Kia crossover SUV.

Displacing 3.5 L, the 2020 Highlander's standard V6 engine pumps out 295 hp at 6,600 RPM. Boosted by the Atkinson cycle, this naturally aspirated powertrain yields 263 lb-ft at 4,700 RPM. The movement of the valves are precisely controlled by the Variable Valve Timing with intelligence technology. This six-cylinder engine also operates on the D-4S Injection mechanism. Additionally, the Stop & Start Engine System may be triggered when the vehicle is idle.

This Toyota model also offers a hybrid powertrain that's available with several configurations. A 2WD system is only compatible with two front electric motors. The AWD system works in tandem with two front electric motors and a single rear electric motor. When operating at optimum intervals, the hybrid system yields a net output of 243 hp and 175 lb-ft. A 2.5 L gas engine with the L4HV design generates a significant portion of the total output.

The Highlander hybrid models are strong enough to tow 3,500 pounds. When fitted with the standard V6 engine and an AWD system, the towing rating increases by up to 1,500 pounds. The Trailer Sway Control is a standard feature that boosts towing on all trims. Similarly, the Sorento is capable of towing a 5,000-pound trailer when equipped with an AWD.

When fitted with the 2.4 L engine, the 2020 Sorento can run on six different gear ratios that are created by an electronically controlled automatic transmission system. Up to eight gear sequences are generated by an automatic transmission that's paired with the 3.3 L engine. Featuring the Sportmatic nameplate, the Sports Shifter improves the gear-hunting experience in this Kia model.

The 2020 Highlander is propelled by the Direct-Shift-8AT system, which also comes with electronic controls for quick gear cycling. As the name implies, this trademark transmission system makes eight gear speeds. The hybrid trims are driven by a continuously variable transmission system with full electronic mechanisms. The ECVT offers the Sequential Mode for optimum performance on local roads and freeways.

Both crossover SUVs come standard with a front-wheel drive (FWD) system, which is primarily tuned for efficient cruising on well-maintained roads. An all-wheel drive system with the Dynamax Full-Time label is optional for the 2020 Sorento. Similarly, the 2020 Highlander may be fitted with an AWD system with the Dynamic Torque Vectoring technology. The hybrid trims of this Toyota crossover SUV roll on an AWD system with the Electronic On-Demand design.

Activated manually by the driver, a locking center differential works in tandem with the Sorento's Dynamax AWD. This premium hardware significantly boosts traction when the vehicle rolls at low speeds on slippery surfaces. Engineered to monitor yaw rates in real time, the Torque Vectoring Cornering Control calibrates the steering system when the car goes off track. Measuring 12.6 inches in diameter, ventilated front disc brakes also enhance the vehicle's cornering attributes.

When powered by the 2.4 L engine, the 2020 Sorento offers an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 29 MPG on the highway and 22 MPG in the city. The 3.3 L engine reduces the gas mileage ratings to 26 MPG on the highway and 19 MPG in urban areas. Such ratings are based on a standard FWD configuration, which is already tuned for maximum efficiency. As expected, the Dynamax AWD slightly lowers the fuel economy of this Kia crossover SUV.

The 2020 Highlander offers a maximum fuel economy of 29 MPG on the highway and 21 MPG on urban roads. This Toyota model achieves such gas mileage when running on a FWD system and the V6 engine. The hybrid editions offer up to 36 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway. Additionally, the hybrid trims have the Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle label.

In terms of reliability, the 2020 Sorento is protected by a 100,000-mile warranty. This industry-leading protection plan is valid for up to 10 years from the date of activation. In stark contrast, the 2020 Highlander's standard powertrain is covered by a warranty that expires after 60,000 miles or 60 months. However, the hybrid powertrain is linked to a warranty with a limit of 100,000 miles or 96 months. Additionally, the battery in the hybrid trims is protected by a 150,000-mile warranty, which has a time limit of 120 months.


The 2020 Sorento offers up to 73.0 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first-row seats. When the second-row seats are reclined, the cargo capacity is 38.0 cubic feet. The standard cargo capacity behind the third-row seats is 11.3 cubic feet. This seven-passenger Kia model offers a maximum passenger volume of 154.2 cubic feet. Occupants in the front and first rows have slightly more than 39.0 inches of headroom.

Up to 84.3 cubic feet of cargo volume is available inside the 2020 Highlander. This storage capacity is measured when the seats in the second and third rows are properly folded. The passenger volume in this eight-seat Toyota car is slightly more than 141 cubic feet. However, the hybrid trims have slightly lower ratings for the passenger volume.

Having just more than 59 inches of shoulder room, a driver can comfortably handle the 2020 Sorento for extended drives. This Kia model also offers slightly more than 44 inches of leg room in the front row. Additionally, the driver and front occupant may enjoy approximately 57 inches of hip room in this three-row crossover SUV. The headroom in the front and second rows measures just above 39 inches. However, passengers in the third row have a headroom that's lower by about 3 inches.

Available with a 14-way driver's seat, the 2020 Sorento surely offers class-leading ergonomics. Wrapped in real leather upholstery, this power-adjustable seat comes with a cushion extension and a multi-position lumbar support. The Integrated Memory System memorizes two different seating positions for the driver. The best driver's seat that's optional in the 2020 Highlander only comes with a maximum of 10 positions. Such a seat is available with the patented SoftTex upholstery or genuine leather.

The Dual-Zone Automatic Temperature Control is available in the Sorento. This signature HVAC system includes the Auto De-Fog System for improved visibility in the morning and late at night. Third-row passengers in this Kia crossover SUV will appreciate the cool air that flows from the Rear Air Conditioning system, which comes with an electronic control console. With a simple twist of a digital knob, the occupants can adjust the cooling settings on a hot day.

A climate control system with three zones is standard in the 2020 Highlander. Passengers in the second row have their own control panel for the HVAC system. Additionally, air vents are installed in all three rows of this Toyota crossover SUV. Sliding sun visors also help the driver and front occupant see the road better when facing the sun.

The 2020 Sorento has a handful of features that improve the driver's productivity behind the steering wheel. With some assistance from the Smart Shift & Drive technology, there's no need to hunt for gears in a frenzy. This exclusive function minimizes distractions relating to the management of the transmission system. The driver can also glance at the EcoMinder Fuel-Efficiency Indicator for extra reassurance in terms of fuel economy.

This Kia crossover SUV also offers an instrument panel with a 7-inch TFT LCD interface. Generating bright and crisp graphics, the Supervision Meter Cluster is positioned at optimum viewing angles from the driver's perspective. The tilt-and-telescoping steering column may be adjusted to optimize the visibility of the instrument gauges.

Occupying up to 7 inches in the 2020 Highlander's instrument panel, the Multi-Information Display delivers essential driving data in real time, such as fuel economy and the AWD settings. A 10-inch head-up display is another high-tech visual technology that sharpens the driver's focus in this Toyota model. This advanced HUD includes the Hybrid System Indicator, which monitors the performance of the electric motors and other components in the hybrid system.

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The Kia Drive Wise technology commands and controls several driving aides in the 2020 Sorento. Thanks to the Forward Collision Avoidance, the severity of an accident might be significantly reduced or prevented altogether. The FCA function comes with the Pedestrian Detection, which is triggered by forward-facing sensors that look for any people in crosswalks. Autonomous braking is also integrated into the Smart Cruise Control, which maintains a desirable gap behind another vehicle. The SCC includes the Stop and Go function that readily reacts to sudden stops and starts in heavy traffic flow.

Standard in the 2020 Highlander, the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 adds next-generation safety features for a confident drive on highways and local roads. The Pre-Collision Assist may help the driver avoid harsh crashes with another automobile that suddenly slows down. Similarly, the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control applies the brakes when another vehicle suddenly decelerates. This driving aide comes with the Full-Speed Range function for an enhanced response to different traffic conditions. Some industry-leading features from the TSS 2.0 bundle include the Cyclist Detection and Road Sign Assist.

Both crossover SUVs offer numerous technologies for making safe changes in lanes. For example, the Sorento's Lane Keeping Assist corrects the steering system if a side collision is imminent. The Highlander's Lane Tracing Assist ensures that the vehicle remains centered in a single lane. Both models offer warning systems for careless lane departures. Additionally, these premium family-friendly cars have blind-spot monitors with alerts.

Thanks to the Parking Distance Warning-Reverse, a driver can easily steer the 2020 Sorento into a desirable parking space. This Kia model also offers the Surround View Monitor, which creates overhead, side, rear and other views of the perimeter in real time. With supplemental cues from the Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning, the driver might apply the brakes just in time to avoid an accident with other cars coming from behind. Additionally, the Rear-Camera Display is connected to the touch screen in the UVO infotainment system.

The 2020 Highlander also offers various technologies for urban parking and other challenging maneuvers. Linked to front and rear sensors, the Parking Assist comes with the Automated Braking function. This Toyota crossover SUV also has the Integrated Backup Camera that projects the path based on the steering. Select trims are available with the Bird's Eye View Camera that captures the Low-Speed Drive View and several other perspectives.

Which Has the Best Value

Starting at slightly less than $27,000, the 2020 Kia Sorento offers good value in comfort and digital technology. Some standard features in the L base edition include a 7-inch touch screen and the YES Essentials seats. Other convenient amenities in the entry-level model include the Remote Keyless Entry and second-row seats with one-touch controls.

Topping off the lineup, the SX model starts at slightly more than $40,000. Some key highlights inside this high-level trim include a 14-way driver's seat and panoramic sunroof. This deluxe edition also boasts more than a dozen driving aides, which are mostly powered by the Drive Wise bundle.

The 2020 Toyota Highlander base model has an MSRP of just above $34,000. Starting at more than $48,000, the Hybrid Platinum surely carries a hefty price tag. In terms of interior comfort, the Highlander offers much better value than the Kia rival. For example, a tri-zone climate control system is standard in this Toyota crossover SUV. A seating capacity for eight people is another major advantage that the Highlander holds over the seven-seat Sorento.

When it comes to off-road performance, the 2020 Highlander surely beats the 2020 Sorento by a huge margin. For example, this Toyota model boasts the Multi-Terrain Select that's tuned to conquer various landscapes. Up to four different modes are at the driver's fingertips, including the ROCK & DIRT setting. The independent Trail Mode is another technology that boosts off-road trekking, especially in inclement weather.

The 2020 Highlander is also much more efficient than the Sorento. Thanks to a hybrid powertrain with multiple electric motors, this Toyota crossover SUV offers impressive fuel economy. The Predictive Fuel-Efficient Drive technology optimizes gas mileage in cities, suburbs and rural settings. Additionally, the EV Mode and ECO Mode are readily available for this innovative three-row vehicle.

Which is Better?

Available with eight seats, the 2020 Toyota Highlander is a better choice than the 2020 Sorento in terms of interior space. Both crossover SUVs have similar active safety technologies that prevent accidents and provide guidance for parking. Available in several hybrid editions, the Highlander is a much better choice for families that value fuel economy.

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