Kia has really evolved rapidly. It started out as a humble Korean make not unlike Hyundai. But the key difference in their stories was the velocity with which the product was accepted. Hyundai took 20 years to become the trusted brand it is today after selling some rather dismal vehicles to North America in the 80’s and 90’s.
Kia on the other hand came onto the scene and almost immediately offered us decent vehicles, and if it had not been for the Hyundai factor, the fear of new Korean brands, I think they would have become popular immediately. But with the passing of a few years people have begun to trust the brand and their vehicles are almost at premium levels of competition.
Kia Canada gave me a 2016 Sorento SX+ AWD with the optional 7-seat configuration to test for a week.
The focus of the recent remodel was two-fold. First and most obviously is the new front end, what a looker. The quad fog lights and new grille look upscale almost Germanic, and the interior layout if fantastic.
But second and more importantly was the focus on comfort, not performance. That being said the handling is by no means boat-like and although there is body roll it is controlled and progressive rather than scary and abundant.
There is limited steering feel provided by the electric power steering system that again has been designed with smoothness and comfortable handling characteristics in mind.
Keeping your family safe are all the latest technologies from lane keeping alert, Hill start assist, 360 degree camera, adaptive cruise control and many more.
The available AWD system will function autonomously, but with the flick of a switch, the driver can engage a 4WD lock mode that balances the delivery of engine power evenly to all 4 wheels. This system also comes with a torque vectoring function that will come to the rescue if the system senses understeer.
The 2016 Kia Sorento is available with the choice of 3 engines, of which 2 are 4 cylinder designs; a 2.0L Turbo that develops 240 hp, and the base 2.4L naturally aspirated that only puts out 185 hp.
My tester had a wonderfully smooth 290 horsepower V6 mated to an equally refined automatic 6-speed transmission. This transmission is standard with all engines.
The V6 is the only logical choice for anyone who hopes to pull a trailer with its 5,ooo lb towing capacity and is the one I would choose.
It offers all the power I would ever need, runs quietly and only requires regular gasoline. The fuel economy estimates for the V6 are 18/26/21 mpg (city/highway/combined).
The interior is large, very nice and extremely black. It has two tones of black however, matte and gloss.
Everything has a premium look and even the plastics seem better than most.
The front seats had both heating and cooling ability the latter of which was much needed the week I drove it. For those chilly winter mornings the heated steering wheel quickly warms your hands.
The second row seats are equally comfortable with enough legroom for all and even the third row seats, which my tester had, were hospitable enough for adults on short trips.
The overall cargo volume has increased to 154.2 cu.ft and the space available behind the 3rd row is now 38.8 cu.ft and can be secured with the optional cargo cover.
To add convenience the second row seatbacks can be folded via a lever mounted on the side of the luggage area.
When the seats are all laid flat the cargo area is level and easily accessible with a comfortable load height.
Thanks to options like the panoramic sunroof and 630-watt 12 speaker Infinity stereo the Sorento gains a premium ambience usually reserved for more prestigious brands.
Kia has included a full range of connectivity that is accessed through an 8-inch capacitive-touch color screen, with an available navigation system with the very handy real time traffic alert, USB 2.0 support for high-speed updates as well as integrated rear backup camera, Bluetooth hands-free support and UVO voice recognition.
All of the controls are placed just right and the touch screen system is easy to navigate and understand.
On the road the driving aids made parking this vehicle a cinch, and the adaptive cruise control was so nice I now think it should be a legislated standard.
I drove a Land Rover Discovery the week before the Sorento and loved it; but I have to say that the Kia has me questioning the extra $10,000 fee for the Rover and any of the other premium CUV’s.
Besides the infamous four wheel drive, which no one ever really uses, and the more refined ride quality, the Kia offers everything the top end players do.
Even the exterior styling drew more attention to the Kia than I received in the Discovery, and that attention was almost always from the driver of a premium brand SUV.
The 2016 Kia Sorento SX+ AWD V6 really is the total package. It looks fantastic, it is very comfortable and offers all the convenience most will ever need. The best part is it does so for a lot less than the competition and you could argue that it could compete in the premium segment.
Price As Tested: $43,100 before taxes and delivery fees
Base model price: $24,900