It’s easy to overlook the Sorento as being just another mid-sized crossover offering, but give this Korean some credit — it’s not only a good crossover, but it walks into premium territory as well.
Engine: 2.0L turbo four-cylinder
Power: 240-hp, 260 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
EPA Fuel Economy: 19 MPG City, 25 MPG highway, 22 MPG Combined (AWD)
Fuel Economy (CDN) 12.3L/100 km City, 9.3 L/100 km Highway, 10.9 L/100 km Combined
Starting Price (CDN): Turbo LX+ Turbo FWD $32,360
As Tested (CDN): $43,760
Pricing: Starts at $40,795 for FWD models, $42,595 for AWD.
Price as tested: $45,095
A modified platform, updated interior and refined exterior are the main changes, in addition to a newly offered turbocharged engine, which is found in our tester. A 2.0-liter unit like the one found in the top-of-the-line Optima that bested the VW Passat earlier this year, this engine makes 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque.
See Also: 2016 Kia Optima vs Volkswagen Passat
Paired to a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drivetrain, the mid-sized crossover is rated at 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, good for a combined 22 mpg. This is a solid figure, but the Sorento is trumped by other all-wheel drive competitors like the turbo-four equipped Ford Edge (23 mpg) and the V6-powered Nissan Murano (24 mpg) but is better than some smaller vehicles like the Santa Fe Sport, which earns just 21 mpg combined, despite using a similar platform and powertrain. The main reason to grab the turbocharged four-cylinder model is its improved fuel economy over the V6 model, which earns 19 mpg combined.
Though not as good on gas as its competitors, this force-fed four-banger provides great acceleration on the road. There’s no doubt that the Sorento would make a good long-range cruiser for a family, and this turbo motor is quiet, too. Those concerned that this engine isn’t powerful enough should be interested to know that it makes just 50 fewer ponies, but 8 more lb-ft of torque than the V6. The peak torque comes on much sooner in the four-cylinder model, too, starting at just 1,450 rpm. The six-speed automatic transmission works well with this engine as well, changing gears quickly and as needed. It never felt like I had to wait on a shift during my test with the big crossover.
Another unexpected surprise during testing was how enjoyable the big crossover was to drive. Kia’s explanation – that the upgraded platform of the Sorento features increased rigidity – goes over my head, but what doesn’t escape me is that this big 4,000-lb crossover is extremely responsive to direction changes, despite its obvious size and weight. There’s limited slack in the wheel, which is a rarity for non-premium crossovers. Steering effort is well balanced, straddling the line between too heavy and over boosted.
Ride quality is above average as well; the big crossover never felt wobbly or out of shape when driving over potholes and bumps, although it didn’t completely mute all the effects of rough pavement. Overall, the Sorento is fun to drive for a big vehicle and provides a confidence boost for the pilot, combining the well-sorted powertrain, responsive handling and solid ride quality into a great package that easily keeps up with the Murano and Edge.
ALSO SEE: 2016 Ford Edge vs 2016 Nissan Murano
Pretty on the Outside, Average on the Inside
An updated exterior highlights the 2016 model, exaggerating curves around the front wheels that give the family-friendly crossover a more athletic appearance. The most noticeable change is the LED foglight cluster, an item that could have looked tacked on and cheap, but instead looks fresh and high-tech. At the four corners of the car are a range of pretty alloy wheels that range from 17 to 19 inches in diameter. All SX models sport 19-inch wheels, but the SX Limited V6 model adds a stylish bonus by finishing the wheels in chrome, rather than the gunmetal grey our tester had.
The interior comes up just short of impressive, however. The cabin is well laid out, although it’s clear that Kia’s idea of premium materials is not up to par with its Japanese and American rivals. There are leather wrapped surfaces, which Kia promises are Nappa-grade, but maybe in name only; it doesn’t feel or look particularly special in here, which is acceptable in a family car. As a family car, the Sorento is great with a lot of space for second-row passengers. Those who want a third row will have to upgrade to the V6 engine, but both variants offer quite a bit of cargo room, with a total of 74 cubic feet. Passengers in the rear seats are treated like first class passengers with heated seats and sunshades.
Features and Pricing
The turbo-powered SX Limited comes with a number of other niceties, too, including push-button ignition, dual-zone climate control, and a heated steering wheel, in addition to heated and ventilated front seats. The sound system in this trim level is upgraded and there are extra USB ports and a 110-volt port for charging your gear. The UVO infotainment system is clear and easy to use, although the map graphics could use a bit of polish. Helping the Sorento’s case in terms of practicality is standard 40/20/40 split folding rear seats, and a powered tailgate for this SX Limited model.
In terms of driving assistance, the Sorento offers the whole suite of technology: adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, forward collision warning system and an around-view camera system that makes parking a big vehicle like this much easier. All of these are part of the $2,500 Technology Package, which adds to the FWD Sorento SX Limited’s price tag of $40,795. All-wheel-drive versions of the Sorento SX Limited start at $42,595. This pricing is inline with the AWD Ford Edge Titanium equipped with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine and the AWD Nissan Murano Platinum and it’s hard to decisively pick the Kia over those two, especially since the Murano is so attractive and powerful.
The Verdict: 2016 Kia Sorento SX Limited Review
Stylish with an excellent powertrain, the Sorento is a surprising pick in this segment. While an underwhelming interior and so-so ride feel stop it from being a perfect purchase, the good clearly outweighs the bad with the Korean crossover.