Saucony Cortana Running Shoe Review

Saucony CortanaSaucony has done an excellent job diversifying their shoe offerings over the past year, filling out both the zero drop and 4mm drop niches. I’ve previously reviewed the Hattori, Kinvara, Mirage, Fastwitch 5, and Peregrine – that leaves the Saucony Cortana as the lone shoe among Saucony’s mainstream, low-drop running offerings that I have yet to review. Truth be told, I’ve had the Cortana’s for quite some time, so this review is long overdue. The main reason, and I’ll openly admit this at the outset, is that the Cortana is simply a bit too much shoe for my taste. As always, recognize that this is simply my opinion based on my own personal running tastes, and that’s not to say that this shoe might not work for you (*disclosure: this shoe was a media sample provided to me free of charge by the manufacturer).

Saucony Cortana Lateral

Saucony Cortana Medial

Saucony describes the Cortana as a shoe that “isn‘t much for tradeoffs between soft and responsive….Built with just a touch of guidance, full-length PowerGrid™ technology of the Cortana provides superior cushioning and the 4mm heel-to-toe offset provides a super-responsive, close-to-the-road ride.” When reading this description, the two words that in my opinion best describe the Cortana are “soft” and “cushioning.” I’m normally not one to complain about a shoe being a bit on the soft side – after all, I’m a long-time fan of the Saucony Kinvara and have run my two most recent marathons in that shoe. However, the Cortana feels just a bit too plush for me.

Some of the sense of cushiness that comes with this shoe can be attributed to the memory foam insole – I am not a fan at all of a mushy insole like this. It may make the shoe feel amazingly comfortable for a try-on test in a shoe store, but it robs my feet of any sense of ground feel out on the road. Granted, it’s easy enough to just rip out the insole and replace it with one from another shoe, but since I’m reviewing the shoe as it’s sold, it’s worth noting my feelings about this. Actually, it’s quite possible to even just run in the shoe without any insole as there is a thin, soft layer of foam just below it. The memory foam insole on top of another layer of foam is just too much cushion for me.

Saucony Cortana Sole

On the positive side, with a stack height of 23mm in the heel and 19mm in the forefoot, the Cortana is middle-of-the road in terms of sole thickness, and the 4mm differential between heel and forefoot thickness falls right in my preferred zone for longer runs. Furthermore, the ample outsole should make this shoe plenty durable for folks who tend to grind up the sole of a shoe like the Kinvara quickly. Truth be told, the sole itself is actually pretty nice, and would work well for someone needing a high-mileage trainer.

Saucony Cortana RearMy other main issue with the Cortana is the substantial upper. Again, it’s not that the upper is poorly designed or problematic, it’s just that I tend to like shoe uppers to only provide what is absolutely necessary – mainly to just keep my foot attached to the sole and to keep junk out. The upper of the Cortana is much more structured than most of my other shoes, particularly in the rear portion around the heel. There is a fairly stiff heel counter on the rear of the shoe, and plastic overlays cover the sides below the ankle. All of this material ads weight to the shoe, and at just under 11oz in a size 10 they are among the heaviest shoes I have run in in quite some time.

In terms of fit, I have no major complaints. The fit is typical Saucony, very similar to the Kinvara, Mirage and so on. It’s by no means roomy, but there is enough space for my foot that the fit has never bothered me on the run.

Saucony Cortana Top

On a final note, the MSRP for the Saucony Cortana is $145, though it can be found for less than that at some on-line retailers. This is a pretty hefty price tag when the Kinvara can often be found for half that price. The question would be whether the Cortana offers double the durability of the Kinvara, which seems like a realistic possibility given the more extensive outsole on the Cortana. Nonetheless, $145 is a pretty steep price to pay for a running shoe unless you’re really sure that it’s the right shoe for you.

Summary

The Saucony Cortana is clearly a shoe designed to appeal to the runner who likes all of the cushy bells and whistles in a running shoe, and is willing to pay for it. For me, the cush is a bit too much, and I’d rather pay less for less shoe (e.g., the Mirage or the Kinvara among Saucony’s offerings). Granted, the Cortana may turn out to be a bit more durable than the Kinvara, but I don’t suspect it will be that much of an improvement over the Mirage – the latter has an MSRP of $100 so it’s still considerably cheaper. If you like a plush shoe with a fairly substantial and supportive upper, then the Cortana would probably serve you just fine, it’s just not the right shoe for me.

The Saucony Cortana is available for sale at Running Warehouse.

**Featured Running Gear Sale: Shoebuy - 20% Off Skechers Performance shoes and 20% OFF all technical running shoes with code 20APRIL (through 5/1)

Have a question about running shoes? Need helping choosing your next pair? Get help in the Runblogger Forum.
About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Excellent info on your blog, thanks.
    Have you any experience with the Saucony Grid Flex?

  2. FGHJZDHDTH says:

    HOW MANY TOTAL MILES DID YOU PUT ON THE SHOE? UNLESS YOU TESTED IT IN MULTIPLE CONDITIONS WITH A NUMBER OF MILES I DISAGREE WITH YOUR REVIEW BECAUSE ITS NOT “MINIMALIST” ENOUGH..IF YOU PUT IN SOME HIGH MILES AND FAST PACING, THIS PERFORMS EXCELLENT. ITS STABLE, CUSHIONED, RESPONSIVE AT SPEED, AND A HIGH QUALITY SHOE. I PICKED UP THE SHOE FOR $90 AND IT HAS MET ALL MY NEEDS OF A HIGH MILAGE LOW DROP SHOE.

    • Nichole Randall says:

      she said that it would be good for high milage people. plus half of her thing said it was her opinion!!! Don’t be such a communist, not everybody has to like the same thing. 

    • Pete Larson says:

      I’m happy it worked for you. As with any shoe, individual results will vary, and it was not a top choice for me.

  3. Roy_tugdang says:

    Hi good day,

    Great site about running. I also love running.
    I was wondering if you could please add me to your blog roll?

    My blog is: http://runningcebumarathon.blo

    Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you

    Roy

  4. Runnersglobe says:

    I’ll have to admit it, its definitely a pretty shoe, but that doesn’t cut it when out on a long run.  Do you not like a lot of cushion in your running shoes?  I overpronate, so I find the extra cushioning helps.  I have been really into the Brooks Trance 10 lately.  Check them out: 

    http://runnersglobe.blogspot.c
     

  5. Robert Osfield says:

    I look at shoes like this and the thick block of foam and am finding it difficult to reconcile them with what I now would consider a running shoe.  It looks now looks alien.  Yet two years ago it would have been the type of shoe I was wearing, albeit with an extra 8mm of heel lift!

    I find it amazing how ones perspective on the world changes over time.  Two years ago I wouldn’t have considering running in plimsoles, barefoot or something like a pair of Neo Trails that now adorn my feet – these would have all be alien and crazy.  Yet now I can’t imagine ever buying a shoe like a Mirage, even with it’s low heel drop.

    Just have to hope that no-one has bought my a shoe like this for Christmas!

    Good to will to all over the festive season, and special thanks to Pete for providing such a great blog :-)

  6. I think the weight probably disqualifies this shoe from consideration for me.  But out of curiosity, how is the arch support?  I can’t run in the Kinvara because it has too much support for my flatish feet.  So how does the Cortana compare?  Thanks.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Good question – forgot to mention that in the review. Arch support is basically identical to that of the Kinvara 2 – noticeable but not awful, but then I don’t tend to be bothered much by arch support. I’m most sensitive to heel lift and shoe weight. This shoe is good on the former and not so good on the latter.

      • I like your reviews and currently run in the Mirage, I also have a pair of Saucony Grid flex, that are really flexible have a very low drop . Not much info about these, has Saucony sent you a pair of these or are you familer with them . 

  7. Hello! It’s very interesting to see your running slo-mo view in cortanas. Or at least to know your feeling. I mean is cortana closer to Ride 5 (pronounced lateral motion) or to Skechers gorun (little lateral movement)?

Speak Your Mind

*


SAVE $$$ ON RUNNING SHOES AND GEAR
If you'd like to support the work done here on Runblogger, please consider making your next running shoe or gear purchase from one of the retailers below - you'll likely save a bit of $$$, and I'll get a small commission to help keep the site running and the blog posts flowing. Thank you for your support!

Running Warehouse - 10% Off With Code RUNBLOG10 (some exclusions apply)
TriVillage - 18% Off With Code RBTri18 (some exclusions apply)
Clever Training - 10% Off With Code RunBlogXJT (some exclusions apply)
Sportsshoes.com - UK-based but ships globally