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2016 Kia Sorento: Bigger, More Premium

By Sue Mead, January 17th, 2015

The all-new 2016 Kia Sorento is more capable and premium than ever with increased towing capacity, more room for passengers and gear, plus a new turbocharged engine.

Notable are upgraded materials and features; a stronger body structure; reductions to noise, vibration, and harshness; and added driving confidence to support the active-adventurer lifestyle coveted by crossover utility vehicle owners.

Sorento buyers have their choice of three engines, including a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, a 3.3-liter V-6, and an improved 2.4-liter inline-four.

Starting at $24,900, the 2016 Sorento comes with two or three rows of seats, in front-wheel and AWD, and a choice of L, LX, EX, SX and SX-L trims. Kia is targeting the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Toyota Highlander as its competitors and says it's the first CUV to offer Harman's Clari-Fi digital music reconstruction technology.

Sorento's sleek, aerodynamic profile is enhanced by a large, upright grille, a sloping hood, brawny shoulders, and a 3.1-inch longer wheelbase and 0.2-inch wider body that improves interior roominess. Its narrower headlight design bears a family resemblance to the all-new highly praised Sedona. Distinctive LEDs set it apart from others in its segment.

Second-row seats split and fold 40/20/40 on five-passenger models and third-row seats split and fold 50/50 on seven-passenger versions. Cargo volume increases from 72.5 cubic-feet to 74 cu.-ft.; behind the third row volume increases from 9.1 cu.-ft. to 11 cu.-ft.

Under the hood, the 2.4-liter engine gets 185 horsepower and 178 torque; the 3.3-liter boasts 290 horsepower and 252 torque; and the 2.0-liter inline-four turbo promises 240 horsepower and 260 torque. All are mated to a six-speed automatic featuring Sportmatic shifting; top towing is 5,000 pounds (depending on model trim).

We drove the new 2016 Sorento model over a course of 150 miles around Lake Tahoe, Calif. Its quietness and upscale cabin are notable, while its stronger body structure, longer wheelbase, modified platform, and upgraded suspension and steering bring a lighter and more nimble feel.

It's a big change from the first-generation 2002 Sorento that was a traditional truck-based, body-on-frame SUV, and a capable off-roader. Its automatic four-wheel-drive system featured low-range gearing, a ladder-on-frame design, and a choice of auto or manual transmissions. After updates in 2007 and 2008, the second-generation 2010 Sorento came to market with car-based, unibody construction.

Today's third-generation and latest evolution of the popular crossover is now available with automatic gearing only, and is made to appeal to a different buyer, with driving characteristics that are markedly different than previous versions.

We first noted the quietness of the upscale cabin, but what really stands out is the refined drive: A stronger body structure, longer wheelbase, modified platform, and upgraded suspension and steering make the 2016 Sorento feel lighter and more agile to maneuver.

Also true to its mission today, the new Sorento boasts ample and sporty power to move it quickly when needed, and brakes that slow its nearly 2 tons of mass in a measured manner.

The base model L tester featured front-wheel drive, the 2.4-liter engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, heated mirrors, cruise control, satellite radio, and USB and Bluetooth connectivity.

Sorento's standard safety features include six airbags, electronic stability and traction control, ABS with brake assist and electronic brake force distribution, and hill-start assist. All-wheel-drive models get rollover mitigation and cornering brake control. New are vehicle stability, forward collision warning, smart cruise control, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, and surround view monitor.

Specifications

Base price $24,900 (as tested: $25,795)
Curb weight 3,832 lbs.
Displacement 2.4-liter
Engine type 16-valve DOHC 4-cylinder
Epa mileage rating 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 18.8 gal.
Horsepower (net) 185 at 6000 rpm
Overall length 187.4 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 178 at 4000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD CUV
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