Several drives in Kia’s handsome Sorento crossover during the past couple years still has me searching hard for its faults. There aren’t many.
Most test drives leave me wanting a little more, or less, of something, but Sorento just keeps impressing.
First, it has the ability to carry seven passengers.
Second, it looks good.
Third, it rides great.
Fourth it comes in a variety of trims with several engine choices and a wide price range.
Let’s start with pricing and choices. The base L model begins at a modest $25,795 and features a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that generates 185 horsepower and gets 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. The base model is front-wheel drive.
I had the next to top level SX Limited with all-wheel-drive and a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Starting price is $41,700, plus an $895 delivery fee. Throughout its trim levels though you can opt for all-wheel drive, or select either this peppy 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder or a 3.3-liter V6, but that’s at the high end.
My last test was with that V6 and I got just 19.6 mpg for gas mileage. This time around with the torque-happy turbo I got 20.7 mpg in a fairly even mix of city and highway driving. For the record the turbo boasts 240 horses and a 260 torque rating while the V6 has 290 horses and 252 ft.-lbs. of torque. The turbo feels more energetic. The advantage of the V6 is more towing capacity, 5,000 lbs. vs. 3,500 for the turbo-equipped Sorento.
Both models use a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic with the Sportmatic feature that allows you to manually shift. The Limited also features 3 drive modes, activated by pushing a console button. Normal is the default and is fine for daily around town driving. Sport allows the tranny to hold the gears longer to increase low-end torque, while an Eco mode lowers shift points to save fuel, but dulls acceleration.
Sorento’s ride, along with its luxury looks, is a high point. Ride is smooth on our crumbling roads thanks to independent front and rear suspensions. In fact, ride was better here than in the previous week’s Lexus RX350, and the Kia costs considerably less. There’s no jostling and railroad tracks are hardly a bother. Coupled with the vehicle’s whisper quiet interior the Sorento feels luxurious.
Handling is fine for a larger crossover with moderate wheel feedback. There is some body lean in tight turns at speed, but no more than in other similar vehicles.
Inside the dark (titanium) gray Sorento were black leather seats with gray stitching, along with leather steering wheel and soft-feel dash with a pewter-look trim. The test crossover also had black gloss trim on the doors and passenger’s side dash.
The Limited comes with heated and cooled front seats and a heated steering wheel. Controls are on the dash, under the center pod. All controls are easy to see and reach.
Seats feature mildly contoured bottoms, but offer better side support and the driver’s seat offers two memory settings, plus power lumbar and front seat bottom cushion extender. Even with that bottom cushion fully retracted I was at the limit of where my legs were comfortable, but longer-legged drivers would be fine.
Second row seats are comfortable and roomy and the third row folds down easily 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, even with rear seats in place.
Overhead is an impressive panoramic sunroof, which would be fun on a vacation in the mountains. The Sorento also comes with a retractable interior sunroof cover to keep unwanted summer sun out and the crossover’s sun visors slide, as they should in all modern vehicles.
Sorento also comes with a blind-spot warning system, rearview camera, cross-traffic alert and dual-zone climate control. It added a $2,500 tech package that included HID headlights, a lane-departure warning system, forward collision warning system, electronic park brake, surround view monitor and smart cruise control.
The navigation and sound system worked fine and the center stack screen is split so you can see both at once, or open it up solely for the nav system’s map. Other finer points include a manual tilt/telescope steering wheel with multiple controls on the hub, inside hatch and fuel release, manual rear side window sun shades, Bluetooth and a lot of 12-volt and rapid-charge USB ports, both for the front and rear seats.
Remember too that the Sorento, as with all Kia models, comes with a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.
Sorento is among the top crossovers on the market, pleasant in nearly every way, but a better value before you reach its top trim levels. You owe it to yourself to test one if you’re seeking a mid-size to large crossover.
Stats: 2016 Kia Sorento SX Ltd. Turbo, AWD
Hits: Good ride and power, quiet interior w/third row seat to carry 7, plus a giant sunroof. Offers 3 drive modes, a power hatch, heated/cooled front seats and heated wheel, well arranged controls, soft leather seats, blind-spot warning, rear camera and 2-memory driver’s seat.
Misses: Gets pricey in Limited models.
Made in: Georgia
Engine: 2.0-liter turbo, 4-cyl., 240 hp
Transmission: 6-speed automatic/Sportmatic
Weight: 4,303 lbs.
Wheelbase: 109.4 in.
Length: 187.4 in.
Tow: 3,500 lbs.
Cargo: 74.0 cu.ft. (2 rows down)
MPG: 19/25 (EPA)
MPG: 20.7 (tested)
Base Price: $41,700
Dealer’s Price: $40,090 (includes delivery)
Tech package (Xenon HID headlights, lane departure warning system, forward collision warning system, electronic parking brake, surround view monitor, smart cruise control), $2,500
Test vehicle: $45,095
Sources: Kia, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage