2016 Kia Sorento: Underdog SUV gains on Toyota, Hyundai

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With increasing competition among sport utility vehicles, the 2016 Kia Sorento is nearly all new to keep up with the pace. It’s been re-styled inside and outside. It’s slightly bigger in most dimensions and there are lots of new high-tech options. And there’s also versatility with three different engine options.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

Available in five trims and in five and seven-seat configurations, the 2016 Kia Sorento is arguably the most versatile midsize SUV in the marketplace. My test vehicle was the topline SXL or Limited. It’s among the V6-powered Sorentos with seven-passenger only seating in three rows. Smaller L trim models equipped with a midrange turbocharged engine are five-passenger only.

While vying for a market share with the deservedly well-touted Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota Highlander, the Kia Sorento counters with an extraordinary list of standard features.

The base L comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, three-mode drive settings (altering steering and transmission shift points), air-conditioning, cruise control, stain-resistant fabric upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 40/20/40-split second-row seats (fold, slide and recline), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.

The 2016 Kia Sorento has been redesigned inside and outside.
The 2016 Kia Sorento has been redesigned inside and outside. Images © James Raia/2015

Upgraded trims add a host of engine, interior, technology and safety features. And the SX Limited nearly reaches the saturation point of stuff. Consider: chrome-clad 19-inch wheels, upgraded leather upholstery, ventilated front seats and heated second-row outboard seats. The available Technology package adds xenon headlights, a multi-angle parking camera, an electronic parking brake, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure and forward collision warning systems.

The EX and SX Limited trims are equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine as standard equipment and it produces 240 horsepower. The upgraded 3.3-liter V6 has 290 horsepower.

With its new versatility, the Kia does a lot more a lot better. The ride is more comfortable than previous years’ models. The ride is stiffer and feels more in control. The stereo system is near home entertainment quality.

The new Kia Sorento also has strong side and rear-view vision and the second and third-row seats are easy to configure for passengers or cargo needs.

Likes:

Attractive interior design.

Industry-best warranty.

Versatile and easy-to-configure second-row seats.

Lots of trim and engine options.

Dislikes:

Not as much interior room as some competitors.

Acceleration is only adequate.

Facts & Figures: 2016 Kia Sorento

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 8.7 seconds.
Airbags: 8.
Fuel economy: 17 mpg (city), 23 mpg (highway), 19 mpg (combined).
Horsepower: 240.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $43,1000.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.kia.com.
Price As Tested: $46,695.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/ 100,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“It’s a significant step forward in looks, quality, and performance, yet this category of premium crossovers is already full of great choices. As before, the Sorento’s prime advantage against the competition still lies in its price.” — Automobile Magazine

“If you’re looking to gentrify your driveway with a crossover, you’re not going to do much better than the Sorento in terms of financial outlay, style, quality, and capability.” — Car and Driver.

“The styling inside and out is sharp and spot-on, and the driving experience is also markedly improved. We’ll put it this way: If you liked the old Sorento, you’ll love this new one.” — Kelley Blue Book.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“The Toyota Highlander and Hyundai Santa Fe are monoliths in the midsize SUV segment. They do everything right. The 2016 Kia Sorento is vastly improved and it’s a strong alternative to the two industry leaders.”

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