Kia is a little like that geeky kid who used to live down the street. Finally an adult, he’s getting better looking and more successful every year.
The 2016 Kia Sorento is yet another example of the company’s impressive evolution and maturity. It’s been redesigned for 2016. On the outside, it’s an smooth stylish change. Underneath is where it’s truly different. Kia will point out that it has improved torsional rigidity by 14% with 53% of the unit-body made of advanced high-strength steel, a 115% increase over the outgoing model. Kia also brags about using industrial strength adhesives, dual-seal lip joints and better welding. Bottom line, it’s stronger and better than before.
It’s also heavier. But that’s likely the result of getting bigger in just about every dimension. That’s not a bad thing. The old Sorento was wedged in between compact and mid-sized SUVs. Now it’s definitely in the bigger club. Fortunately, it didn’t get bigger for the sake of bulk. For example the rear leg room has increased nearly two inches which is something all your passengers will appreciate. You even get a touch more cargo space.
You have your choice of three engines. There’s a base 2.4-liter four cylinder that pumps out 185 horsepower. That will get you around town, but you’re more likely going to be interested in one of the optional engines. There is a 3.3-liter V6 that is good for 290 horsepower, or you can pick the new 2.0-liter four cylinder turbocharged engine that delivers 240 horsepower. While you don’t get as much power with the turbo, you do get better mileage. The front-wheel drive version gets 20 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway with a combined number of 23 MPG. That drops to 22 MPG for the all-wheel model. That combined total is just a mile back from the smaller engine, and two MPG better than the V6. More importantly, it helps to make the Sorento more competitive in the mid-sized SUV range.
My test car had the turbo 4 and I didn’t feel it was lacking. I often say that these days the sweet spot for power is between 250 and 300 horsepower. The turbo was close enough. I had it on a long highway trip and I drove it around town. It did fine in both arenas.
The 2016 Sorento has new styling as well. I always liked the old look, and this body style is evolutionary. Kia says it’s based on the Cross GT concept it showed back in 2013. This Sorento isn’t quite as bold, but it is very attractive. The Sorento is subtle. If you want something bolder, try the Hyundai Santa Fe. One fun addition are the quad driving lights below the front bumper. One friend said it was like being followed by a space ship.
Inside the Sorento is attractive and comfortable. The base model comes with a 4.3 inch display, or you can upgrade to the 8 inch version. My test car also had the surround view monitor that helped show all sides of the car. I’m a huge fan of having as many cameras as possible to avoid trouble. You can also get a third row seat which makes the Sorento even more versatile.
Kia has a huge price range for the Sorento. You can choose the base model with that 185 horsepower engine starting at about $25,000, or you can add all the techno-bells and luxury-whistles and pay upwards of $40,000. My test car was the SXL all-wheel drive that had the technology package. The final sticker was $45,095. That’s a lot of money for a Kia, but you can spend a lot less and still get a pretty impressive car.
Speaking of techno-bells. Kia has added four apps that parents will love and kids will hate. Among the new UVO eServices are Geo-fencing, Speed Alert, Curfew Alert and Driving Score. That’s right, you can track your kids and score their driving. That’s assuming, of course, that you’ll actually let them borrow your Sorento.
And then there is the Kia warranty. You get a 5 year/50,000 mile overall warranty with 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty. That is darn impressive.
The Sorento isn’t perfect. But it’s getting darn close. Who knows what that geeky kid will think up next.