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A grey 2020 Kia Sorento is parked in a field in front of mountains after winning the 2020 Kia Sorento vs 2020 Mazda CX-9 comparison.

Comparing Consumer Favorites: 2020 Kia Sorento vs 2020 Mazda CX-9

This is a fantastic time in the evolution of the SUV. No matter how many passengers you plan to haul, regardless of how much cargo you might need to stow, or even loads you need to tow, there’s a selection of vehicles that are ideal for you. Gone are the days of cramping into vehicles that are too small or lack versatility. SUVs now have plenty of room and power, and they’re here to stay. The 2020 Kia Sorento and 2020 Mazda CX-9 are two consumer favorites, each offering three rows of seats for up to seven passengers. That being said, both of these vehicles seem to be similar in both size and function. But one has to be the better vehicle, right? Right! So today, we are going to find out which is the best with an in-depth comparison: 2020 Kia Sorento vs 2020 Mazda CX-9.

Performance vs Performance

The first thing many SUV drivers look for in a vehicle is strong and reliable performance. And these days, this performance can even coexist with fuel efficiency, making for the best vehicle possible. This combination should and does play a significant part in choosing the better SUV, so let’s see how these two compare.

The 2020 Kia Sorento’s entry-level engine is a 2.4L inline-4 that offers 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque, which is plenty of power and even allows for towing up to 2,000 pounds. This engine rates 22 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway when equipped with FWD. And drivers who opt for AWD will see slightly decreased fuel economy at 21 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway. Additionally, this engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

For drivers who want some more power, there is an option 3.3L V6 engine. This engine provides 290 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque, allowing for towing up to 5,000 pounds. The front-wheel drive versions see fuel economy of 19 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway, while the AWD models average 18 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway. This engine also sees an upgraded 8-speed automatic transmission.

The 2020 Mazda CX-9 offers only one engine, a 2.5L inline-4. This engine provides 227-250 hp and 310-320 lb-ft of torque. These numbers are solid, but the horsepower still does not come close to the Sorento’s offerings, and the lack of options is a little disappointing. Additionally, a properly equipped CX-9 can only tow up to 3,500 pounds, which is 1,500 pounds less than the Kia. The fuel economy is quite similar to the Sorento with FWD models getting 22 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway and AWD models seeing 20 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway. Overall, despite the similar fuel economy, the Mazda falls behind with a lack of choices and lower towing capabilities.

A grey 2020 Mazda CX-9 is in the shade on a tree-lined road.

Compelling Features

Whether we want to admit it or not, most of us give serious consideration to a vehicle based on the features it offers. Most of us spend a significant amount of time commuting, and SUVs are the ideal road trip vehicle, so it makes sense that drivers and passengers alike want to be as comfortable as possible along the road.

The 2020 Kia Sorento is offered in five trims: L, LX, S, EX Sport, and SX. The L starts things off in style, with 17-inch alloy wheels, stain-resistant cloth upholstery, keyless entry, cruise control, and a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen. It includes integration with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone services, along with Bluetooth connectivity. Stepping up to the LX adds some very essential convenience and comfort features, such as seatback pockets, additional USB ports, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, and noise-reducing windshield.

The S is the gateway to power features, such as power-adjustable driver’s seat, automatic climate control, and push-button start. The EX Sport places acoustic glass not just in the windshield, but in the front door windows, as well, then adds a panoramic sunroof, power liftgate, and leather upholstery for ultimate comfort. And at the top of the line, the SX trim makes power a priority in the cabin, with a 14-way adjustable driver’s seat with memory, an 8-way adjustable power passenger seat, an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with a built-in navigation system, a premium Harmon Kardon audio components, and a wireless phone charger.

The 2020 Mazda CX-9 is offered in four trims: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, and Signature. The Sport starts with 18-inch alloy wheels and adds a pretty robust package of standard features, such as a power-adjustable, heated driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a 7-inch touchscreen with USB ports and a six-speaker audio system. Three-zone climate control with separate settings for the second row is standard, along with rain-sensing wipers and heated outside mirrors.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are only available for Touring trim and up, but the touchscreen grows to 9 inches in these models, with power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats. The liftgate is powered on the Touring trim, and the second-row passengers gain a central armrest featuring additional cupholders and USB ports.

The Grand Touring trim rises on 20-inch wheels and adds comfort and convenience for all passengers. This includes heated seats in the front and second row, ventilated front seats, third-row USB ports, as well as a moonroof, heated steering wheel, roof rails, and a Bose audio system. All in all, this is an extensive list of features and determining which vehicle is “better” in this area comes down to individual wants and needs. That said, the Sorento and CX-9 offer similar packages – but the Sorento has a much more affordable price tag.

Imperative Safety

A grey 2020 Kia Sorento is driving on a dirt road with distant mountains.

Safety is vital for any size vehicle on any length of a trip, and Kia and Mazda have made it a priority on all of their family-oriented vehicles. All Kia Sorentos include a standard rearview camera. The LX trim adds blind-spot monitoring and a Convenience package that adds forward collision mitigation sensors and rear parking sensors. The S trim includes all of the LX’s safety features and adds automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, and parking distance sensors.

The EX Sport combines these features with sophisticated technology such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, monitoring and alerts for drowsy drivers, and accident avoidance features for both the blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitors. At the head of the pack, the top-trim, SX, may not seem like it could possibly add anything more, but a surround-view monitor allows drivers to be aware of hazards all around the vehicle, with an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and front parking sensors.

Mazda has engineered plenty of standard safety technology across the CX-9 lineup. All models are equipped with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitor, adaptive cruise control with stop/go technology, a rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning, and lane-keep assist. Stepping up to the Grand Touring or Signature adds front and rear parking sensors, along with a 360-degree View Monitor. Like the comfort features, these two vehicles are quite even on this front, but again, the Kia comes in at a lower price.

The Better SUV

In all, these two vehicles both have a lot to offer drivers. However, the Kia Sorento comes out on top. With various performance options, a high towing capacity, and fantastic comfort and safety features, the Sorento is a great SUV. And making it even better, all of these things come at a lower price than the Mazda CX-9. So, with all of that, the Kia Sorento is the better SUV in this comparison.

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