First Drive: 2016 Kia Sorento

Maker’s new SUV aims to compete with Grand Cherokee, MDX.

by on Dec.18, 2014

Kia is debuting a revised and refined version of the Sorento, which will reach showrooms in January as a 2016 model.

In recent years, Kia has proven adept at reading consumer trends.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2008-2009 recessions, the Korean automaker introduced the Kia Soul, a versatile, small vehicle designed to fit into tight urban spaces and appeal to the nascent “back-to-the-city” vibe among the rising millennial generation.

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As the demand for fuel efficiency has ebbed, Kia has deftly introduced its own version of practical luxury, the K900 earlier this year to catch the move towards expensive vehicle. Now with gas prices sinking and Americans clamoring for sport-utility vehicles, Kia is ready to bring on the revised and refined version of the Sorento, which will reach showrooms in January as a 2016 model.

The new Sorento’s unibody has been stiffened with high-strength steel to bolster its capability so it can compete for customers with the vehicles such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Edge, Acura MDX or Toyota Highlander.

The new Sorento has been designed to compete with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Edge and Acura MDX.

“We focused on making the vehicle more sophisticated and more premium,” said Orth Hedrick, Kia vice president of product planning.

The overall package not only includes a new body, a revamped chassis, a lower height and longer wheel basis, but also improved aerodynamics to bolster the Sorento’s fuel economy.

The mirrors, taillights and undercarriage have all been refined to reduce the drag. The emphasis on aerodynamics has an additional impact, aside from better mileage, it also reduces the turbulence around the vehicle and reduces noise inside the Sorento’s cabin.

The end result is a vehicle with a handsome exterior that features a wide stance, contemporary silhouette, and well-crafted front and rear fascia’s that add to the vehicles overall visual appeal.

Kia also plowed more money into the interior of the new Sorento, creating a more premium feel. The touch points throughout the cabin are covered in soft materials while the number of break lines where various pieces come together has been reduced giving the cabin a simpler, uncluttered appearance.

Kia also offers an interior of Napa leather as well as other colors, including Ivory, which didn’t look very practical in a vehicle, which I suspect isn’t very practical in a vehicle that is likely to get hard use.

Kia also plowed more money into the interior of the 2016 Sorento, creating a more premium feel.

At the top of line, Kia also offers an optional 14-way, power seat with leg extender, a panoramic sunroof, heated steering and heated seats in both the front and second-row seats and extra ventilation in the second row.

The 2016 Sorento also comes with two-different wheelbases, seats for five or seven passengers and three different engines, leaving consumers a lot of choices.

Kia also has kept its customary value position so the 2016 Sorento by continuing to offer a10-year or 100,000-mile warranty and a wide price ladder that extends from $24,900 for at the lowest trim level, a $895 destination charge, to $41,000 at the top of model range.

The Sorento we drove was equipped with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged double overhead cam engine that produces 240 horsepower and 260 foot pounds of torque and an estimated, combined fuel-economy rating of 23 miles per gallon. The engine is matched to a six-speed transmission. All-wheel-drive is also available on the Sorento and also comes on automatically and has lock mode that will spend power to the wheel with the best grip.

The revamped chassis also gave the authority out on the road that was seemed lacking in previous versions of the Sorento. The new Sorento feels a lot more planted thanks to the stiff body structure.

Ride and handling of the Sorento also has a nice solid feel while it’s motion.

The suspension on the Sorento has been completely rebuilt with an H-shaped subframe that helps isolate the vehicle’s body. The Sorento’s revised suspension also includes longer control arms and shock geometry. Kia is also offering three different electronically controlled drive settings: sport, normal and “eco” drive.

Changing the drive settings basically alter the transmission’s shift points and the sport setting tightens up the Sorento’s steering.

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Kia is also offering a full array of technology, including Kia’s UVO infotainment and telematics system that allows hands-free calling and can summon navigation prompts. While the voice recognition system was relatively easy to use, the navigation system seemed balky at times at finding the best route.

The UVO system, which can be managed remotely from a phone or desktop computer, is accessed in the Sorento through an 8-inch capacitive-touch color screen, capable of high-speed updates to the navigation system as well as integrated rear backup camera and Bluetoothhands-free support.

(Click Here for details about Lexus and its “track-ready” model coming to Detroit.)

Active safety features such as electronic stability control, traction control, hill-start control and electronic brake force distribution, anti-lock brakes and roll-over mitigation are standard on the Sorento.

The list of features available on the Sorento also includes a driver assistance package with a forward collision warning system, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert and a surround view monitor.

(To see why Tesla’s stock price has been sliding downward for six weeks, Click Here.)

A 600-watt, Infiniti sound system with a new feature dubbed Clari Fi, which can rebuild audio details lost in digitally compressed music through an algorithm that reconstructs digital material so it sounds cleaner and more dynamic.

The Sorento may not impress Jeep owners but it is a great blend of the latest automotive technology indicates Kia is one very tough competitor quite capable of building vehicles that are both practical and sophisticated.

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One Response to “First Drive: 2016 Kia Sorento”

  1. John says:

    It’s still a KIA and to compare it to an Acura is humorous….

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