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Road tested: 2016 KIA Sorento SXL AWD

Written By | Feb 12, 2016

SEATTLE, February 12, 2016 — KIA has seen a great deal of success over these past few short years in regards to brand equity and new customers. It’s forged ahead in many areas that have done a lot of good things to its brand perception – this new 2016 Sorento helps bolster those efforts. With a good stance, conservative styling, tech, ride, comfort and all-wheel-drive, the Sorento offers quite a bit to buyers.

It has a decently potent turbo-charged 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine seems a bit underpowered for the weight of this vehicle. While it does produce 240 peak horsepower, its 260 lb-ft of torque does help a bit but still doesn’t seem to be able to counter the overall weight of nearly 3900 pounds. The six-speed transmission does seem to do a good job of shifting through the gears with little pause or a “hunt for the right gear” syndrome that seems to plague some cars out today.

Read: Kia rocks eco vehicles with 50 mpg 2017 Niro Hybrid debut

2016 Sorento Turbo 4 Cylinder Engine

KIAs enhance the interior trim with soft-to-the-touch surfaces, good-looking “wood” finishes and an overall sense of upper-scale materials that don’t come across as cheap. The leather, including that on the seats, has a great tactical feel to it and most everything is easily within the driver’s reach.

This SXL model comes with dual-zone climate controls, rear camera, and Infinity audio with a great-looking 8-inch display that’s both easy on the eyes and easy to use. Its audio system, has all of the loud, clear audio prowess that we’ve come to expect from a high-end Kia / Infinity partnership – in fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more impressive “stock” audio system in any car at any price.

On-board navigation mapping has a somewhat dated look to it, however, that’s likely not an issue for most people where so many use their smartphone’s built-in navigation anyways. The touch screen is response and doesn’t have much lag time at all.

The way the Sorento drives is where it shines rather well. It has a super quiet cabin while at freeway speeds, does an admirable job of dampening road bumps but yet retains enough rigidity to feel component in mile off-road conditions.

Read: Road Tested: 2016 Hyundai Tucson – a fuel efficient crossover

One of the great things about the size of this vehicle is the ample leg room in all the seats. Even the rear passenger area is blessed with enough leg and elbow room to make those long road trips very comfortable.

Cargo area with the rear seats up is a generous 38.8 cubic feet and grows to a whopping 73.5 cubic feet with the seats folded down.

As far as safety goes, KIA has packed the Sorento to the hilt with airbags, four-wheel disc brakes, ABS, front collision alert and lane departure warning. Fuel economy isn’t bad – it’s rated at 19 around town and up to 25mpg on the freeway using regular unleaded. It’s not superb fuel economy for a mid-sized SUV but certainly not the worst we’ve seen, either.

Handing doesn’t leave much to be desired and is rather predictable, in a good way. The all-wheel-drive version we tested didn’t have much understeer whatsoever and the way it goes around corners is surprisingly good. There is some rather modest body roll around the shaper corners but under normal driving conditions, it’s still not bad.

Where the Sorento seems to lose me is at its price tag in this SXL trim package, at $45,000, there are other vehicles to consider. It’s not that there aren’t things to like about the Sorento, it’s just that I’m not convinced at this time it’s worth the asking price.

KIA’s done a heck of a job refining the Sorento into its current iteration – it offers quite a bit for would-be buyers in the crossover SUV market segment. However, at over $45,000, it could be a tough sell to customers who aren’t yet familiar with the quality improvements KIA has made to its entire line-up over the past few years.


Duane Pemberton

Duane Pemberton is a lifestyle writer and CDNs Auto Editor. Pemberton loves anything that helps bring people together which is why he writes about food, wine, cars, and travel.