2016 Kia Sorento
by John Davis
The all-new, 3rd generation 2016 Kia Sorento is clearly not a major departure from its previous generation in that it still is a unibody supported crossover utility. That alone makes it a far cry from the original, rough and ready, body-on-frame Sorento that was introduced way back in the 2003 model year.
Indeed, the latest redesign is more directed at improvements rather than outright change, aiming to make Kia’s three-row, mid-size crossover a more family friendly and capable adventure vehicle. The familiar exterior design, however, does manage to convey the image of a larger Sorento, and with that, the promise of more interior room.
The new Sorento also comes off as a bit bolder, with a taller, flatter, less pointy grille that reflects Kia’s new corporate face. Body side sculpting is also smoothed out, fitting a Sorento that is now 3-inches longer in both wheelbase and overall length. Heading aft, there are more angles and more aggression. Handsome 17-inch alloy wheels are now standard, while 18s and beefy 19s are available.
The last gen’s interior was a big step up, but this gen is an even bigger leap forward; with a smoother dash design, a much more premium feel, intuitive touchscreen interface, and some of the best steering wheel controls out there. Premium safety systems have also trickled down from the flagship K900.
All gauges happily remain analog. Front seats are European-firm and very comfortable; and thanks to the added wheelbase and length, all seating positions gain room, with improved access to the 3rd row.
Cargo room grows as well. An available smart power lift- gate allows hand- and foot-free opening.
But, the evolution that we like most is the new Sorento’s greatly improved ride quality. Now bordering on excellent, it feels incredibly well-built and is very quiet. Standard equipment is Drive Mode Select, with response settings for Normal, Eco, and Sport.
There’s a trio of available engines. Base engine is a slightly improved version of last year’s, 2.4-liter I4, now with 185-horsepower. Also carryover is the 3.3-liter V6 with 290-horsepower that can tow up to 5,000-pounds. Slotting in between is an entertaining new option; the Optima’s 2.0-liter I4 turbo, here with 240-horsepower. Every engine comes attached to a 6-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel-drive is available on each as well.
For more on our exclusive test of the 2016 Kia Sorento, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3432 that begins airing on April 11, 2015. For a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable
Kia has done a fine job of growing the 2016 Sorento into a more capable and family-oriented crossover, successfully tending to the things that needed improving along the way.