For 2016, The Sorento has been completely redesigned. Now in its third generation, the Sorento finally hit its stride with the second gen model. A true watershed car for Kia, the Sorento would be their first vehicle built on American soil. An instant hit with buyers, Kia found itself in the enviable position of running at full capacity to meet demand. Not known for resting on its laurels, Kia took all that consumers loved about the Sorento and sweetened the recipe even further.
While the first truck-based Sorento has been all but forgotten, Kia wisely took the last generation’s look, gave it an update and a healthy added dose of refinement. I appreciated the tasteful use of trim, with one possible exception. Some manufacturers are under the misconception that if they chrome plate the rims on its top end trim, the end result is a more premium look. Don’t like it? Your only option is to go for a lesser model, as Kia does not offer an alternative. That aside, the Sorento is a careful evolution of styling that has proven successful in the past, so apart from staying current, there was really no need to for a radical makeover.
Speaking of refinement, stepping inside our Sorento was a revelation. This is a truly legitimate, make no excuses premium cabin. Quality of materials cannot be faulted. Although feature laden, the Sorento’s controls are intuitive. The large 8″ touchscreen is one of the better ones available today. Still, as pretty to look at as it was, our particular Sorento might not be ideal for a family of messy wee ones. That gorgeous Nappa leather looks like a challenge to keep pristine, and one look at the glossy piano black trim is liable to cause a smudge.
Exceptionally comfortable, the newest Sorento is slightly longer than the outgoing model for an even roomier interior. With a panoramic moonroof, our test car was the very definition of airy. You can have a Sorento as a two row, five seater, or a three row seven seater. For reasons that are unclear though, Kia makes that choice overly complicated. If you choose the base four cylinder, no problem-your choice of two or three rows. Opt for the turbo? Two rows only. The V-6? Three rows only. Why Kia?
Speaking of engines. Base Sorentos get a 2.4L four rated at 185hp, and there is an optional 3.3L V-6 good for 290hp. New to the Sorento for 2016 is a 2.0L turbocharged four cylinder rated at 240hp. All Sorentos share a six speed automatic, though there are rumors that Kia is working on a new transmission for more cogs. All Sorentos are front wheel drive with available all wheel drive. If towing is a concern, this should help. The base 2.4L can tow 2,000lbs, the turbo 3,500lbs, and the V-6 with all wheel drive can handle 5,000lbs.
Our test car had the 2.0L turbo. Even with a turbo I was concerned how well a four cylinder would get our Sorento down the road, as this is no small vehicle. Thankfully, those fears were soon put aside. The turbo Sorento has no problem getting around with more than adequate acceleration and is never under duress. After a couple days I didn’t miss the V-6 at all. The EPA rates fuel economy at 19/25 MPG city/highway, which is respectable for a car this size. The Sorento handles well for a vehicle this size, although steering feel was lighter than I would have liked. Ride is controlled and comfortable. Kia engineers took pains for a quiet cabin, with a smoothed out under pan and insulated glass, and the results paid off. Again, the Sorento provides a premium experience consistently across the board.
With a choice of three different engines, front or all wheel drive, two or three rows of seats, you would be safe in assuming Kia already gives buyers plenty of choices, but that’s only half the story. The Sorento is available in a staggering five different trim levels as well. Our test car was the top of the totem pole SX Limited. Standard equipment includes dual zone automatic climate control, Infinity audio, rapid charge USB ports, Nappa leather, power seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seat, heated steering wheel, LED foglamps and panoramic moonroof. Our car had one option, the Technology Package, which adds xenon HID headlights, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, electronic parking brake, Surround View Monitor, and smart cruise control. Including destination, our Sorento retails for $45,095USD. Taken on its own, that represents a fair value for what you get, but it bears mentioning that a Sorento starts around $25,000. So yes, it literally takes $20,000 extra to get from the base model to the car shown here.
With that in mind, and so many choices available, if you’re seeking a mid-size crossover and you can’t find a Sorento that meets those needs, chances are that crossover doesn’t exist. With the last Sorento, Kia built a crossover that people wanted to buy. Selling points were no longer all about competitive pricing and long warranties-here was a car that was simply good on its own merit. Kia took that concept and sent it to finishing school, and the results are nothing short of impressive.