Experienced by Shawn Ciers
With an updated, alluring style, robust technological features, bold stance and improved performance, the re-defined 2016 Kia Sorento was presented in Lake Tahoe, Nevada to a throng of auto journaling media with immense flare. The theme of the latest Korean CUV clearly focuses on the delivery of value and quality, attention to key details and overall design enhancements from the outgoing Sorento. The Snow capped mountains and bundle of winter activities made for the perfect setting to evaluate the lively cross-over.
Kia is experiencing major success in every facet from new product innovations to optimized brand partners which heightens the company’s bravado and innovation reputation. The urban savvy K900 has been welcomed with gratitude from both consumers and King James himself; Black Griffin continues to raise his NBA profile in conjunction with Kia vehicles; a cadre of tech features have been installed in new models that you would come to expect from German and Japanese luxury vehicles; and Kia is now synonymous with accompanying, defining brands as they continue assaulting the auto market with unique techniques.
Built from the ideologies of the original Cross GT concept and assembled at Kia’s state-of-the-art facility in West Point, Georgia alongside the Optima, the 3rd generation Sorento has improved in several fashions which makes it more appealing for active lifestyles such as those from the team at Fit Fathers. Toting much needed utility room for five passengers (4-cylinder models) or seven passengers (V6 models), the interior spacing capacity bolds well for individuals and families looking for optimized storage. From the width of car seats, folding strollers, Ikea runs and weekly grocery pickups to taxi service for your kids’ football buddies and gear, the Sorento has a variety of configurations to accommodate desired requirements. But the third row will be less requested by anyone other than small children, even with the .5” legroom increase. Additional conveniences include four auto power windows; a newly added 14-way power driver seat with power lumber support and leg extension to go along with the 8-way passenger seat. Both are offered with the opportunity of heating and ventilation. Possible rear heated seats (perfect for increment Maryland weather which we are experiencing now) and optional Nappa leather surfaces delivers steps in the right direction for the Sorento. Last but not least, the carpeted luggage panels propose comfort for family travelers with quality in mind.
“The all-new Sorento has been passionately designed and obsessively crafted, delivering class-up premium materials and features in a more capable package,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, Product Planning, KMA. “Increased use of advanced high-strength steel and additional structural reinforcement have resulted in improved torsional rigidity, which pays dividends behind the wheel in the form of better ride comfort and driving dynamics.
Kia is giving buyers the diversity of five models — L, LX, EX, SX and SXL — three engines and the choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive depending on their environmental and regime wishes. I’m from Detroit and now live on the East Coast so of course AWD is my performance preference. In a nutshell, the Sorento’s system automatically routes power to the wheels with the most traction. Added Torque Vector Cornering Control (TVCC) increases steering performance as well. The 2.4-liter inline-4 GDI with 185 horsepower, a turbocharged 2-liter I-4 GDI getting 240 horsepower and the 3.3-liter V6 GDI outputting 290 horsepower are all mated to a 6-speed automatic Sportmatic transmission. Not to be outdone by Kia’s flagship and luxurious K900 sedan, the Sorento is also instilled with Drive Mode Select (DMS) which allows a customized ride in either Sport, Normal or Eco modes. Standard across all models, this enjoyable feature influences gearshift and steering inputs and converts a normal, mundane drive experience into a fun-filled, exhilarating trip.
My test drive trough the Sierra Valley was ideal for reviewing the features and technologies explained during our morning info sessions. The projected heavy rain and high winds didn’t disappoint nor disrupt the long drive. The route included a scenic ride through Truckee, up Sierraville and back down around Lake Tahoe in both the 2.0 inline-4 SXL AWD and the 3.3 V6 SXL AWD. From our hotel at the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe which sits 5,000 feet high, we elevated up another 2,000 feet first in the 2-liter, mostly in Normal mode. Sport mode was happiest in my opinion but wet roads kept my decision the smartest. The Sorento handled well during the uphill and downhill journey in both engine formats with 90+ mph cross winds. Though, the V6 felt more hearty and confident on the highway. Rain-snow downfalls gave me the desired conditions for observing the DYNAMax true AWD system (Torque on demand with locking center differential). Additionally, style and design improvements which enhance interior qualities, kept out exterior wind noise, a pleasant and welcomed surprise. Supported on 19” alloy wheels as standard, the front suspension sits on an “H” shaped subframe with independent MacPherson struts and the rear gets Independent, Multi-link with DFD (Dual Flow Dampers) shock absorbers. The only available stopping package includes power-assisted braking with ventilated front discs and rear solid discs. Towing capacity ranges from 3500 lbs to 5000 lbs which is perfect for hauling Automotive Rhythms’ Yamaha sportbike.
With brawn and power you still need class and entertainment. Kia meets those demands by way of their stellar UVO infotainment system. The digital, multi-media system continues to supply the user with effective communication, pinpoint navigation, social media infusion, interconnected apps, eServices functionally and seamless Bluetooth compatibility for a wide range of smart devices. The UVO car connected system also puts certain operations in the fingertips of the owner when they are away from the vehicle through the use of the free UVO eServices mobile app, available for Android 3.1 and up, and iPhones with iOS 5.1 or later. Whether it’s locating your Sorento through Parking Minder, using Bluetooth Audio Streaming, or, if your Sorento is equipped with UVO eServices with Premium Navigation system, sending upcoming destinations to your ride using Google Send-to-Car, UVO satisfies both the novice and experienced mobile technology enthusiasts. A 12-speaker 630-watt premium Infinity audio system with Clari-Fi audio restoration from HARMAN delivers an impressive listening experience. Clari-Fi restores lost quality from digital compressions such as MP3s or streaming audio from your smart device or Satellite radio.
Safety concerns are answered through a bevy of Kia programs such as the adapted Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Around View Monitor (AVM) to provide owners with an increased peace of mind when backing out, Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS), Smart Cruise Control (SCC), Roll Over Mitigation (ROM) and Cornering Brake Control (CBC). Sounds like the safety of a Benz doesn’t it? Nope, that’s a Kia! The one feature that noticeably worked very well was Blind Spot Detection (BSD) which provided us with more than its share of warnings, most likely due to the 90+ mph cross winds during the drive.
Overall this Kia Sorento will make waves in a market in need of CUVs blessed with aesthetics, technology, ergonomics and performance. Pricing ranges from $24,900 to $43,100, making family travel an enjoyable convenience. Thus, to experience the full potential, new owners will have to shell out the $43,100 plus option costs. Compare the Sorento to the likes of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Flex.