2016 Kia Sorento
The 2016 mid-size Kia Sorento SUV is larger, sleeker and more upscale.
Driving most mid-size SUVs or crossovers now feels a lot like driving a large car. But the considerably improved 2016 Kia Sorento drives much like a medium-size auto.
The 2016 Sorento four-door SUV I tested is larger, sleeker and more upscale than the outgoing model, which actually was pretty good.
The new Sorento has a more impressive stance, with an aggressively styled front end containing a narrower headlight design. The body sits atop new alloy wheel designs that go from 17 to 19 inches, depending on trim level.
Stronger "shoulders" and a long hood contribute to a sportier look. The wheelbase is up 3.1 inches to 109.4 inches and overall width increases about half an inch to 74.4 inches. Packaging is more efficient and helps allow greater interior room.
I found that the Sorento can swallow four or five 6-footers in the two-row version I drove, with more rear legroom. Seats are comfortable, and there's available two-passenger third-row seating, which is easier to enter.
The step-up is rather high, but the doors open wide, as does the rear hatch, and occupants sit high in a quiet, upscale interior with soft-touch surfaces. My test Sorento's power rear windows even slid all the way down.
I tested a two-row-seat Sorento, which has a large cargo area that looks enormous with the rear seatbacks pushed forward. However, doors have skinny storage pockets that don't seem appropriate for a utilitarian vehicle. Still, there's a deep covered front console storage bin.
Gauges are backlit for superior visibility in sunlight. Many dashboard controls are small, but clearly marked and easily used. Cupholders are conveniently located.
The new Sorento lists at from $24,000 to $43,100 and comes with front- or all-wheel drive (AWD). There are a variety of trim levels that start at the L and then go to the LX, EX, SX and top-line SX-Limited.
The first AWD model starts at $28,000, and the first model with a new turbocharged four-cylinder costs $31,100.
Safety items include regular and side curtain air bags. A prime option is the Technology Package. It contains Xenon HID headlights, lane-departure and forward collision warning systems, surround view monitor, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and smart cruise control.
Optional, depending on trim level, are heated and ventilated power front seats, heated rear seats and a panoramic sunroof, besides premium Nappa leather trim seating surfaces.
My test Sorento's steering was almost too quick and the brake pedal felt a bit stiff, but such items as a more rigid structure, revised suspension geometry combined with electronic stability and traction control and a brake assist system contributed to good roadability.
The ride was supple--this is a good long-distance cruiser.
The new Sorento comes with a 2.4-liter 185-horsepower four-cylinder with new electronic intake continuously variable valve timing, a 3.3-liter V-6 with 290 horsepower that can tow up to 5,000 pounds with AWD or a new turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder with 240 horsepower.
The new turbo engine has plenty of punch and better fuel economy than the V-6. It fits nicely between the 2.4-liter four-cylinder and the V-6 .
All engines work with an effective electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission that can be manually shifted.
I tested a $41,700 Sorento with AWD and the smooth, fairly quiet new turbo four-cylinder. The engine provided strong acceleration in town and during highway passing maneuvers, although the Sorento is no lightweight at approximately 3,700-4,200 pounds. Estimated fuel economy of my test Sorento was 19 miles per gallon in the city and 25 on highways.
My test Sorento was well-equipped with comfort and convenience items, including dual-zone automatic climate control, Infinity Surround sound system, tilt/telescopic wheel, navigation system with an 8-inch display, push-button start, heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated front seats, which were appreciated during chilly Chicago winter weather.
The hood raises gracefully on twin struts to reveal an engine set far back to enhance weight distribution and handling and a nifty looking turbocharger housing alongside the engine.
The new Sorento is definitely a major league player. But, like all major league players, it has lots of competition.