2016 Kia Sorento – the value leader adds style & driving dynamics to silence the competition


As Kia celebrates its 20th Anniversary in the U.S., they are also launching the third generation of their Sorento crossover which is a significant vehicle for the brand because it was the first model to reach annual sales (in the U.S.) of over 100,000 units. The 2016 model (and the outgoing model) are built in the U.S. providing economic advantages that are passed on to consumers.

I took a different approach to my First Drive review of the Sorento. I attempted to get into the mind of the Crossover shopper and identify the 10 things that are most important in that segment. With a starting price of under $25K and a host of standard features, the Sorento is truly a game changer.

  1. Styling – It has to look good and the Sorento (IMO) is as attractive as any model in the segment. It is 3” longer and has a WheelBase that is 3.1” longer to help with more interior space and a more comfortable ride. Overall it looks more athletic thanks to a wider stance and a very aggressive front end – grille, lighting and air dam.
    • brawnier, more planted stance, communicating its edginess and rugged personality.
    • The clean profile is easily recognizable as Sorento, enhanced with stronger shoulders and a long hood to deliver a more aerodynamic and sleek appearance.
    • Wheelbase is significantly longer 109.4-inch (up 3.1 inches) Overall width that’s broadened to 74.4 inches (increased by 0.2 inches) the Sorento’s packaging is more efficient and allows for greater interior room.
    • The aggressively styled front end, with its narrower headlight design, is an evolution of the upper fascia seen on the Cross GT concept and bears a strong family resemblance to the all-new highly praised Sedona multipurpose vehicle.
    • Distinctive LED positioning lights set the Sorento apart from others in the midsize CUV segment.
    • Sitting below the headlights, the lower intake and fog lamp pockets are more prominent, creating a sportier appearance, which blends harmoniously with the overall design proportions.  
    • Premium enhancements include available LED rear dimensional tail lamps and LED fog lamps.  
    • The Sorento’s muscular body sits atop four new alloy wheel designs ranging from 17 to 19 inches, depending on trim level. 
    • Standard rear spoiler. Taillamp’s designed to maximize airflow and reduce drag.
  2. Pricing – even though there’s an $18K gap in pricing from base model to top-of-line model, average transaction is expected to be under $30K, far below industry segment average.
    • 5 trim levels – L, LX, EX, SX and SXL
  3. Performance & Fuel Economy – 3 engines
    • ALL NEW! 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder – 240 horsepower while also delivering commendable fuel efficiency15
    • 3.3-liter V6 – 290 horses on the open road and is now able to tow up to 5,000 lbs
    • 2.4-liter normally aspirated inline-4. new Electronic Intake Continuously Variable Valve Timing (E-CVVT–) delivers a capable 185 horsepower
    • All three engines are mated to a six-speed automatic w/Sportmatic shifting.
  4. Interior
    • Standard 40/20/40 second-row folding five-passenger (4-cylinder models) or 50/50 folding third-row seven-passenger (V6 models) seating configurations.
    • Heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, 14-way power driver and 8-way power passenger seats, driver’s seat thigh extension, a 4-way headrest with one-button adjustment.
    • Dual-zone HVAC and Kia’s second-generation panoramic sunroof, as well as available premium Nappa leather trim seating surfaces, similar to those found in Kia’s luxury flagship sedan, the K900.
    • 2nd & 3rd-row passengers will enjoy enhanced comfort thanks to a 0.5-inch increase in rear passenger space for both rows and a roomier flattened second-row center floor.  Access to third-row seating is improved with 1.5 inches of additional boarding space, while headroom throughout the cabin is also increased.
    • Overall cargo volume in the new Sorento increases from 72.5 cu.-ft. to 74 cu.-ft., while cargo volume behind the 3rd row increases from 9.1 cu.-ft. to 11 cu.-ft., without sacrificing rear-passenger room.  
    • In addition, an easy-folding lever allows various seating arrangements, flexible luggage space and greater overall versatility.  
    • Users can fold the second-row seatback without opening the rear door by pulling the lever mounted on the luggage-area side trim. This feature allows quick and easy loading of large cargo.
    • The available premium sound system is well suited to Sorento’s now-more-upscale interior environment.
    • Piping in music from an available 630 watt, 12-speaker Infinity®2 stereo system with an 11-channel amplifier, audiophile sound has gone mobile in the Sorento with the addition of Clari-Fi music restoration technology.
    • Clari–Fi scans all types of compressed audio files for lost music details and intelligently corrects waveform deficiencies based on existing music information and audio source quality.
    • It then recaptures the missing highs and lows, restores the vocals to their natural tone, returns to a true stereo sound and removes unwanted distortions and artifacts.
  5. Technology – UVO
    • 4 additional UVO eServices are now available: Geo-fencing, Speed Alert, Curfew Alert and Driving Score.  
    • Additionally, with the introduction of the Kia App store, select apps can be downloaded for free from iTunes®4 or Google PlaySM5.  
    • Kia app connector – Pandora®6, iHeart® Radio7 and Yelp®8.  
    • Many more new technologies for comfort and convenience are featured in the new UVO system, including Siri®4 “Eyes Free9” and Local Search – powered by Google® – for finding locations, addresses and points of interest.  
    • Sirius XM Travel Link10, offering access to traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports scores, stock information and movie times, keeps you well connected while taking those weekend excursions in the Sorento.
  6. Driving Dynamics –
    • ALL NEW platform with enhanced structure increases torsional rigidity by 14% over the previous generation.
    • 53% of the unit-body consists of advanced high-strength steel, a 115% increase over the outgoing model.
    • Liberal application of industrial strength adhesives, the use of dual-seal lip joints as well as large diameter and laser welding techniques combine to make the 2016 model the most robust Sorento ever.
    • Reduced NVH and provide a comfortable and quiet driving experience.  
    • Updates to the rear suspension include a redesigned rear cross-member span that’s longer than the outgoing model for improved wheel travel over harsh roads and revised bushings to help reduce road noise. Vertically mounted rear shocks contribute to a comfortable ride no matter what the driving conditions.
    • Up front, the Sorento’s revised suspension geometry and responsive steering system result in a quick and nimble behind-the-wheel feel.  Ride and handling are optimized with the application of an “H” shaped subframe, four-point bushing mountings, and Hydraulic Rebound Stopper-type shock absorbers.  The available Rack-mounted Motor Driven Power Steering (R-MDPS) features direct mounting of the electric motor on the steering rack, enhancing steering response and improving handling.
    • Sorento continues to offer an advanced AWD system that automatically routes power to the wheel with the most traction.  
    • When conditions call for more sure-footed capability, the 4WD Lock Mode splits engine power evenly between the front and rear drive shafts. The system also provides drivers the added stability of Torque Vector Cornering Control (TVCC).  The TVCC system is activated when yaw and steering sensors detect unwanted understeer.
  7. Safety
    • seatbelt anchor pretensioners and six airbags, help give Sorento drivers the confidence and peace-of-mind they need when driving their families on the nation’s highways and bi-ways.  
    • STD active safety features such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC)13, Traction Control System (TCS)13, Brake Assist System (BAS)13, Hill-start Assist Control (HAC)13, Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD)13 and Antilock Braking System (ABS)13.  Additional technologies such as Roll Over Mitigation (ROM)13 and Cornering Brake Control (CBC)13 on AWD models also were added as standard equipment for improved dynamic control and safety.
    • New available driver aid technology, including 
      • Vehicle Stability Management (VSM)
      • Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS)
      • Smart Cruise Control (SCC)
      • Blind Spot Detection (BSD)
      • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
      • Surround View Monitor (SVM)
  8. Warranty – 10YR/100K Warranty
  9. Dealer Network – Over 770 dealers nationwide
  10. Heritage – 3rd Gen since 2002
Starting Price
Expert Rating
3.3-Liter V6 GDI
6-speed automatic
Top speed:

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