Kia introduced the Sorento as a truck-based, body-on-frame SUV 14 years ago but, after a year’s production hiatus, moved it to the more popular crossover segment featuring car-based utility vehicles with unibody construction for the second generation beginning in the 2011 model year.
It was a wise move.
Along with the Optima sedan and the funky little Soul, the Sorento is one of the South Korean automaker’s best sellers and generally gets good marks from automotive critics, ranking as high as a tie for fourth among affordable midsize SUVs in “U.S. News & World Report” rankings.
The Sorento was redesigned for 2016 with a new 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine option that is standard on EX, SX and SXL versions and is rated at 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, a significant boost over 185/178 numbers, respectively, in the naturally aspirated 2.4-liter 4-banger which remains standard in the L and LX trims.
The turbo provides enough punch for every-day chores and also gives the Sorento a boost in 1,500-pound boost in towing capacity to 3,500 pounds.
Want more power?
The Sorento also comes with a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 290 hp and 251 lb.-ft. of torque that offers up to 5,000 pounds of towing capacity in all-wheel-drive configuration.
A six-speed automatic transmission with three modes (Normal, Sport, and ECO) and manual shift capability is standard on all models. Front-wheel drive also is standard with AWD models also offered.
Fuel economy is rated at 21 miles-per-gallon city, 29 highway for the 2.4-liter, 20/27 for the turbo, and 18/26 four the V6 in FWD. Corresponding numbers for AWD models are 21/26, 19/25, and 18/26. That’s using regular 87 octane unleaded fuel.
Our test vehicle was the AWD SXL with the turbo-4 under the hood, and we found its performance quite satisfactory both in highway traffic and in getting away from intersections.
Kia has done a remarkable job with the Sorento’s interior. High quality, soft-to-the-touch materials abound, and the two-tone color scheme in our test model was particularly attractive (unless you don’t like red).
Seats on the SXL are premium leather, and the driver’s seat is power adjustable 14 ways with four-way lumbar support. Ventilated as well as heated driver and front passenger seats also are standard, a nice touch for either summer or South Florida driving the year-round.
Among technological amenities are Kia’s UVO telematics system with a standard navigation system with an 8-inch display screen. The driver can see most of what they may want at a glance, and operation of the basic functions is about as user-friendly as you can get.
Kia also provided a bit more room in the interior for both front and second-row riders by extending the wheelbase 3.1 inches to 109.4 inches. The Sorento is available as a five- or seven-passenger vehicle — models with the turbo engine are the former while those with the V6 get the third row.
Again, our Sorento for the week was the turbo so we had the two rows only. The advantage, course, is a rather spacious cargo area behind the second row.
Overall, the Sorento is an appealing option for just about anybody shopping in the midsize crossover segment.
MSRP for the Sorento runs from $25,995 for the base L trim to $44,195 for the AWD SXL with V6. Our test SXL with AWD came with a technology package among other things included lane departure warning and forward collision systems plus a camera with a “surround view” that gives a 360-degree view of the vehicle.
It’s a nice package, and that, along with special white pearl paint, ran the total tab to $45,390.
For a look at the 2016 Sorento SXL and some specs, check out the accompanying slide show.