The three-row crossover SUV is increasingly supplanting both the traditional truck-platform full-size SUV and the minivan as the vehicle of choice for buyers who need more than five seats in their car. And while this segment may not have quite as much competition as the two-row crossover SUV does, there are still many options to choose from. To help narrow down those options somewhat, let us take a look at the 2020 Buick Enclave vs 2020 Kia Sorento to see how two of the somewhat less mainstream choices stack up. While neither of these vehicles may be as common as the Toyota Highlander or the Ford Explorer, they are both solid options with a good array of features.
Size and Space
To begin the comparison of the 2020 Buick Enclave vs 2020 Kia Sorento, you will find that even though both vehicles have seven seats, the 2020 Buick Enclave is significantly larger. On the outside, the 2020 Buick Enclave is 15 inches longer, 4 inches wider, and 4 inches taller. This, of course, also translates into a greater interior room. The third row of seats, in particular, is much more usable on the 2020 Buick Enclave, offering noticeably more head and legroom than the third row on the 2020 Kia Sorento. While full-size adults will still probably not be comfortable back there for extended trips, the extra space will certainly make kids happier.
The size difference between the two vehicles is even more noticeable when it comes to moving cargo. While the 2020 Kia Sorento has a perfectly usable 73 cubic feet of cargo space when all of its seats are folded, the back of the 2020 Buick Enclave is over 30% larger with a simply cavernous 97.6 cubic feet of cargo space. And although maximum cargo space may not be something you need on a daily basis, having that extra capability readily available when you do need it can be incredibly valuable and is one of the major advantages of buying an SUV instead of a sedan or even a hatchback.
Power vs Fuel Economy
When it comes to the powertrain comparison of the 2020 Buick Enclave vs 2020 Kia Sorento, it is not even close. The 2020 Buick Enclave is powered by a 3.6L V6 with 310 horsepower, giving it all the power it needs, whether it is pulling a trailer or passing at highway speeds. In contrast, the 2020 Kia Sorento has two engine options. The first is a 2.4L four-cylinder with 185 horsepower, while the second is a 3.3L V6 with 290 horsepower. The four-cylinder engine is definitely on the weaker side for a vehicle the size of the 2020 Kia Sorento, and should probably be avoided unless fuel economy is your number one concern. And while the 2020 Kia Sorento’s V6 option does put it into the ballpark of the 2020 Buick Enclave, it still does not quite measure up. The weaker engine options on the 2020 Kia Sorento are further handicapped by inferior transmissions. While the 2020 Buick Enclave has a modern nine-speed automatic transmission, the 2020 Kia Sorento has either a six-speed transmission for the four-cylinder engine or an eight-speed transmission for its V6.
However, as would be expected from a smaller and less-powerful vehicle, the 2020 Kia Sorento does win the competition when it comes to fuel economy. When equipped with its four-cylinder engine, it averages 25 MPG in front-wheel drive or 23 MPG in all-wheel drive. With the V6, those numbers fall to 22 MPG in front-wheel drive or 21 MPG in all-wheel drive.
However, the 2020 Buick Enclave is not as far behind as you might think, averaging 21 MPG in front-wheel drive or 20 MPG in all-wheel drive. So while there may be a fuel economy argument for the 2020 Kia Sorento if you can tolerate the weaker four-cylinder engine, when it comes to the V6 option, the difference in fuel economy is marginal at best and does not outweigh the benefits of the larger and more powerful 2020 Buick Enclave.
A Fair Comparison of Features
Continuing the comparison of the 2020 Buick Enclave vs the 2020 Kia Sorento to the feature sets of the two vehicles, one will again find that the 2020 Buick Enclave has the overall advantage. However, the size of that advantage depends heavily on the trim levels being compared. While the 2020 Buick Enclave is a fairly luxurious vehicle in every version from the base Preferred trim all the way to the top Avenir trim, the 2020 Kia Sorento ranges from an affordable economy vehicle in its base L trim up to a close competitor in its top SX trim. This disparity in features can be easily seen in the pricing for the two vehicles––the 2020 Buick Enclave starts at $40,000 while the 2020 Kia Sorento begins at just $26,990. However, a fair comparison can still be made as the base Preferred trim of the 2020 Buick Enclave and the top SX trim of the 2020 Kia Sorento are both around $40,000. This makes it a rather close battle, although the 2020 Buick Enclave still has a few advantages.
Beginning on the outside, the first of those advantages is the full LED lighting of the 2020 Buick Enclave, which provides superior illumination and reliability than the halogen projector-beam headlights on the 2020 Kia Sorento. Another small advantage is the LED projector that shows exactly where to activate the sensor for the 2020 Buick Enclave’s hands-free power liftgate. Finally, the 2020 Buick Enclave has the option of an exterior keypad by the driver’s door so that you can enter the vehicle without a key fob, and its remote start system comes standard instead of being a $425 option.
Measuring Up the Interior and Infotainment Features
Once inside the two vehicles, you will find the competition to be closer. When it comes to the seats, the 2020 Kia Sorento actually comes out ahead, with a 14-way power-adjustable heated driver’s seat and a 10-way power-adjustable heated passenger seat against the 8-way and 6-way power-adjustable heated seats of the 2020 Buick Enclave. However, the 2020 Buick Enclave offers a tri-zone automatic climate control system with separate controls for the rear passengers, while the 2020 Kia Sorento sticks with a simpler dual-zone setup. Two other subtle advantages of the 2020 Buick Encore are an active noise cancellation system and an air ionizer. While these might not leap out at you the way some other features would, they do contribute to an overall relaxing driving experience.
The infotainment systems comparison of the 2020 Buick Enclave vs 2020 Kia Sorento is one place where the latter comes out ahead. While the 2020 Buick Enclave does have a larger 8” touchscreen, the base Preferred trim only has a 6-speaker audio system. Meanwhile, the top SX trim of the 2020 Kia Sorento comes standard with a superior ten-speaker Harman Kardon setup. Still, this can be remedied with the 2020 Buick Enclave’s optional ten-speaker Bose system. Another valuable available option on the 2020 Buick Enclave is the dual 8” infotainment screens and DVD player for the rear seats. So while the standard infotainment is a win for the Kia, options will put the Buick ahead.
In the end, the fact that a fair comparison can only be had by pitting the lowest trim of the 2020 Buick Enclave against the highest trim of the 2020 Kia Sorento speaks for itself. Although the 2020 Kia Sorento is a fine option if you are looking for save pennies, the 2020 Buick Enclave is by far the superior vehicle. And if you are looking at the higher trims, the 2020 Buick Enclave has even more luxury features that the 2020 Kia Sorento simply cannot match.