Might as well get it out of the way right now; there are a lot of versions of the 2016 Kia Sorento. Specifically, there are five. On paper, that doesn’t seem so bad. But let’s not forget that there are also three engines that can fit under the hood of some of them, in addition to front-wheel and all-wheel drivetrains. In short, Kia seems to have decided to try and please everyone.
MONT-TREMBLANT, Quebec – In the end, the Korean manufacturer will probably reach that goal because, regardless of the version, the 2016 Kia Sorento is solid and well executed as a whole. On the other hand, one wonders whether Kia will be able to meet demand, and will there be enough of each version available so as to not let anyone down. We shall see.
I will not dwell on the 2016 Sorento’s styling because ultimately, everyone has an opinion and the one that counts is really the buyer’s. However, I want to mention that visually, the new Sorento has lost some of its personality.
It’s not that it’s ugly or anything, but it certainly doesn’t stand out in a crowd. I have said the same thing of several other recent models from other automakers; I still think it’s not that I’m necessarily difficult, but rather that the manufacturers want to avoid making a mistake at all cost by being too entrepreneurial when it comes to design. Whatever the reason, I preferred the old Sorento from a purely visual point of view. That said, that is about it when it comes to things the previous-generation Sorento did better than the new model.
The interior, for example, is more ergonomic, more spacious, and nicer to look at. Take the centre console as a starting point. Sober with big buttons that are easy to find, it proves quite user-friendly. The eight-inch central display offered on the SX versions is easy to navigate while displaying a useful image of the surroundings of the vehicle through the various cameras. We will return shortly to the various features offered in the different versions, but in short, the central screen is appreciated in the SX versions, while a bit small, but still practical in the other trims. The UVO infotainment system is easy to operate and the small buttons on the side of the screen allow quick access to the menu you want. The idea of separating the climate controls from the rest of the centre stack also makes things easier. In terms of space, the 2016 Sorento offers more legroom in each of the rows, including the third, only available on the V6 versions. Kia says it has facilitated access to the last row, but like all models in the segment with the capacity to accommodate seven people, these two additional passengers will be need to be small. Very small. If such is the case, then yes, access is easy and legroom is reasonable. Also, if you fill the Sorento to full capacity, your passengers will need to travel light. With five people on board and the last row lowered or not added, the Sorento offers 1,099 litres of cargo space (or 1,077 litres in models with seven seats). That’s less than what is offered in the Toyota Highlander, the new Nissan Murano, or the Hyundai Santa Fe, but be aware that the Sorento straddles the midsize and compact SUV segments. It provides a kind of compromise between exterior dimensions and interior space, and roominess remains globally adequate for most needs. The 2016 Sorento offers several fabric options and colours inside. The design of the leather seats in the SX is particularly stylish while the fabric of the entry-level trims is protected against stains and dirt right from the factory. A lot of engines The 2016 Kia Sorento offers three engines, with the real news being the 2.0-litre turbo four developing 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque made available between 1,450 and 3,500 rpm. Giving the Sorento a towing capacity of 3,500 lbs., the turbo offers an interesting compromise between fuel economy and performance. On the road, it responds quickly and provides impressive acceleration when passing. The entry-level engine is still a 2.4-litre four-cylinder that makes 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque, and that can tow 2,000 lbs., while the high-end engine remains the 3.3-litre V6 developing 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. The V6 engine’s 5,000 lbs. of towing capacity probably explains why this is the most popular engine among buyers, at least those who bought the previous generation. On the road, it offers a reassuring level of performance that is sufficiently improved compared to the turbo, in order to justify its presence in the engine line-up. The V6 is only available with all-wheel drive, while the other two can be matched to front-wheel drive or AWD. Every Sorento we drove at the launch in Mont-Tremblant were equipped with AWD and I was impressed with the stability of the SUV on roads covered with hard, rather slippery snow. To get to your secluded cottage, or simply to survive a tough winter like the one we are experiencing, the Sorento will be up to the task, even more so with winter tires mounted on the original 18- or 19-inch wheels found on the EX and SX versions respectively. When the road is clear, the Sorento 2016 is comfortable and quiet. It really takes strong winds to disturb the tranquility of the cockpit as Kia engineers worked hard to improve soundproofing. What one notices immediately after taking the wheel of the Sorento is that it seems solid and composed, and is easy to drive. Steering responded well, the brakes are progressive, and acceleration is linear, regardless of the engine. Behind the wheel, you quickly feel at ease. Comfort is first and foremost, but performance is more than acceptable with the turbo engine and the V6. If you want to change how the Sorento performs, there are three driving modes available to the driver: Normal, Eco and Sport. They change the behavior of the transmission, engine, and steering in order to modify the personality of the Sorento. Although the difference between Normal and Sport is minimal, Eco mode is noticeable and will be used by those who value fuel economy above all. Features, lots and lots of features If there is something that stands out about Kia is the impressive amount of features found in their models, especially on the higher trims. The 2016 Sorento is no exception and offers just about everything one could want in terms of luxury equipment. The EX version, starting at $35,595, probably offers the best value. It comes standard with a heated steering wheel, power-adjustable leather seats with position memory function, dual-zone climate control, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic warning. To all these elements are added the backup camera and smart key, available from the LX+ version priced at $30,695. The camera and the key could have been offered in the base version starting at $27,495, but hey, we can’t have it all. The entry-level LX still offers air conditioning, 17-inch wheels, satellite radio, heated front seats, cruise control and tinted windows. Finally, the $42,095 SX trim includes a navigation system, cooled front seats, heated rear seats, better-quality leather upholstery, a power front passenger seat and an Infinity audio system, among a ton of other features. Fully-equipped SX+ versions add several active safety systems including adaptive cruise control, 360-degre monitoring thanks to four cameras, lane departure warning and forward collision warning. However, at $46,695 before taxes, it’s getting a bit pricey. Note also that the SX models offer an intelligent power tailgate that automatically opens when the key holder stands less than a metre from the back of the vehicle. No need to wiggle your foot or make any other weird gesture, and you do not need to touch the key or the tailgate either. It’s smart and convenient, but again, it’s only offered on the SX. In conclusion, the 2016 Kia Sorento is improved from almost every standpoint. Primarily focused on comfort, it also offers more-than-satisfactory performance. However, it lacks a little space compared to competing vehicles sold for the same price, but the importance of this reality will depend mostly on the individual needs of each consumer, because in the end, the difference is not that huge.