Kia’s Sorento is a fine crossover that will haul up to seven folks and look good doing it.
The 2016 model is the continuation of a revamp from a couple years ago and the tested pearl “snow white” test vehicle was the top-level SX Limited with AWD, so stickered at $43,100, plus $895 destination and just a couple options. Grand total, $46,695.
That’s approaching the stratosphere, but if you want a larger crossover with AWD and much in the way of electronics, you’re already sticking your nose in rarified air north of $40 grand.
Sorento is pleasant looking, smooth, yet muscular. The $200 for the pearly white paint job is worth it to me as it enhances the luxury appearance. Naturally if you don’t want AWD and don’t need to be swaddled in leather or have a zillion buttons to control most everything, you can go more basic. The entry-level L with front-wheel-drive starts at $25,795. It is powered by a 185-horse 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that gets 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.
The tested top-liner packs a much more satisfying 3.3-liter V6 that creates 290 horses and 252 ft.-lbs. of torque. It’ll even tow up to 5,000 lbs., so power is good, even if this version does drink more gas. The EPA rates the AWD V6-powered version at 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. I got 19.6 mpg in a week’s drive that was about 50-50. With gas at about $3 a gallon again, falling below 20 mpg is a little tough on the wallet.
But with the V6 there is decent acceleration getting onto the highway and the 6-speed automatic, with Sportmatic feature allowing you to manually shift the car, works smoothly. This model also features 3 drive modes, activated by pushing a button on the console. Normal is the default and is mostly fine for around town driving. Sport allows the tranny to hold the gears longer to increase low-end torque, but that sucks more gas. An Eco mode does the opposite, lowering shift points to save fuel, but providing meek acceleration.
Sorento’s ride is quite good, well controlled and smooth on our crumbling, cracking roadways. No jostling here and railroad tracks are hardly a bother. Coupled with the vehicle’s whisper quiet interior the feel is luxurious.
Braking is good and there’s the AWD to keep this chugging along through snow and slop, once that season gets here. Stability and traction control are standard.
Several people commented on the luxurious look of the two-tone black over white interior. Similar to the Mazda6 recently driven, the leather is soft and well padded, such as on the storage box/armrest in the console. Even the black textured dash has a soft feel to it.
There’s black gloss trim on the doors and dash and satin chrome trim on the dash, around the center control pod and air vents. The look is classy.
The SX Limited also comes with heated and cooled front seats, heated outboard second row seats and a heated steering wheel. Controls are on the dash, under the center pod. Everything here is easy to see and reach. Seats are mildly contoured on the bottoms, but offer better side support and the driver’s seat offers two memory settings, plus power lumbar and front seat bottom extender. Even with that bottom cushion fully retracted I was at the limit of where my legs were comfortable, but taller drivers would be fine. I also liked the seat backs, but my wife, just a couple inches shorter, found the headrest too intrusive and had to raise it near its limit for increased comfort.
Second row seats are comfortable and roomy and the third row folds down easily in back to enhance cargo room. As for third-row seat riders, well, this area is for pre-teens. There’s also a power hatch with an interior release and good cargo room in back.
Overhead is a spectacularly large panoramic sunroof, which may be a lot of fun on a vacation in the mountains. It also comes with a retractable interior cover to keep unwanted sun out in summer. Overhead are visors that slide to block side sun, but there was one functional bugaboo here. The driver’s side visor’s light would not go out. Usually the light only comes on when the visor mirror is exposed by sliding its cover. This one stayed on no matter where the visor was placed. The passenger’s side visor mirror light worked fine.
On the more positive side, the test crossover came with a blind-spot warning system, rearview camera, cross-traffic alert and dual-zone climate control. It added on, for $2,500, HID headlights, a lane-departure warning system, forward collision warning system, electronic park brakes, surround view monitor and advanced cruise control. I’d save the $2,500 personally!
The navigation and Infinity sound system worked fine and the center stack screen is split so you can see both at once, or open it up for solely the nav system’s map. Other finer points include a manual tilt/telescope steering wheel with controls on the hub, inside hatch and fuel release, push-button start, HomeLink communication system, rear side window sun shades, Bluetooth and a lot of 12-volt and rapid-charge USB ports, both for the front and rear seats.
While all that is good, there’s still one electronic bug that needs to be squashed. This Kia, like many others, plays an incessant chime/tune every time you get in or turn off the vehicle. It’s annoying, and needs to stop. My wife swears there’s a failed Julliard music grad composing this ditty. Here’s hoping all dealers can disconnect that noisemaker before you drive your Kia off the lot.
And you should consider driving any of the new Kia vehicles. They all have 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranties. Certainly the Sorento is pleasant in nearly every way and a worthy large crossover choice, but watch all those electronic doodads, they add up!
Stats: 2016 Kia Sorento SX Ltd. AWD
Hits: Good ride, quiet interior w/third row seat to help carry 7. Offers 3 drive modes, one to save fuel, flip-down rear seats make it easy to boost cargo room, a power hatch, heated/cooled front seats and heated wheel, well arranged controls, soft leather seats giant sunroof, blind-spot warning, rear camera and 2-memory driver’s seat.
Misses: Gas mileage is so-so, driver’s side visor mirror light was stuck in on position and the vehicle plays an incessant chime/tune every time you get in or turn off the vehicle.
Made in: Georgia
Engine: 3.3-liter V6, 290 hp
Weight: 4,343 lbs.
Wheelbase: 109.4 in.
Length: 187.4 in.
Tow: 5,000 lbs.
Cargo: 74.0 cu.ft. (2 rows down)
MPG: 17/23 (EPA)
MPG: 19.6 (tested)
Base Price: $43,100
Dealer’s Price: $41,389 (includes delivery)
Snow White pearl paint, $200
Door sill trim plates, $125
Tech package (7 seat, Xenon HID headlights, lane departure warning system, forward collision warning system, electronic parking brake, surround view monitor, smart advanced cruise control), $2,500
Test vehicle: $46,695
Sources: Kia, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage