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Heels on Wheels : 2016 Kia Sorento Review


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HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE SORENTO VEHICLE
Completely redesigned for 2016, the Kia Sorento grows – quite literally – into a desirable five- or seven-passenger SUV choice with increased interior and cargo space. High quality materials, cutting edge technology, and tasteful styling make this vehicle worth the look, especially if considering some of those fancier nameplate competitors.

I drove a 2016 Kia Sorento with the 290-horsepower 3.3-liter GDI V6 engine with 252 pound-feet of torque coupled with a standard six-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic and all-wheel drive. Available in four trims – the base LX, EX, SX and SX Limited, my SX Limited trim came with the following standard features: Nappa premium leather upholstery; dual-zone climate control; an upgraded Infinity audio system; next-generation UVO eServices; multi-view rear camera display; XM Radio; Bluetooth; heated and ventilated front seats; push-button start; leather-wrapped steering wheel; Blind Spot Detection System; fog lights; self-leveling Xenon headlights; panoramic sunroof; power liftgate; rear spoiler; nineteen-inch chrome-clad wheels. Total price as described without options came to $43,100.

Main competitors include both two- and three-row crossovers able to produce an impressive top-of-the-line trim that are more impressive than luxury brand base-level vehicles – based on my recent test drives, that includes the redesigned Nissan Murano and Toyota Highlander. However, the Mazda CX-9 and Mitsubishi Outlander are also economical buys in this segment.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The Sorento has come a long way, and I’ve learned to dislike into love – especially now that it is brawnier with a more planted stance. Yet all the ruggedness is left outside, as the interior on my top-of-the-line SX Limited trim is a sea of soft-touch cream leather nicely contrasted against a black dash.  Kia’s UVO eServices sync your phone instantly for touch and voice commands – the system also features a nifty Parking Minder app that can actually help you located your car in a busy parking lot. The pop-up third row is best for kids (I have cited in the past the Mazda CX-9 accommodates two adults better). You do have to pay up for much of this and opt for the $2,500 Tech Package, which now includes Land Departure Warning and Forward Collision Alert.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) names the 2016 Kia Sorento as a Top Safety Pick for a mid-size SUV. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the vehicle a 5-Star rating. Standard safety equipment includes an advanced airbag system, traction control, electronic stability control, hill-start assist, and a revised independent front and rear suspension.

Cost Issues: The Sorento starts reasonable $24,900. Yet when fully loaded with options at $45,800, its refinement, style and performance rivals the cost of many entry-level luxury brands like the Acura MDX and Lexus RX 350 – and in many ways, exceeds it.

Activity & Performance Ability: Kia has been perfecting the suspension and engine over the years – combined with enhanced rigidity and higher strength steel, it’s a pretty robust ride. For a three-row vehicle, it’s also extremely maneuverable in tight spaces. If you’re going to constantly put to use that third row, I advise working over the system a few times to get comfortable with the setup – it’s rather tedious and requires using the sliding second row before folding flat in order to pull-up third row seats that are best employed from the cargo area. And then there is the issue of your participants squeezing through the small entry space.

The Green Concern: Standard on the 2016 Kia Sorento L and LX trim levels is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque and a fuel economy of 20-city and 27-highway for a combined 23 miles-per-gallon – typical for the vehicle size but not that great. My 3.3-liter V6 gets 17-city and 34-highway for a combined 19 miles-per-gallon with all-wheel drive.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2016 Kia Sorento stays competitive in the three-row crossover segment by producing a sleek and capable machine quite desirable when fully loaded. Additional safety tech features, Kia’s easy-to-use telematics system, and outstanding interior fit-and-finish assure all the edge and ruggedness is left in the performance.

©2016 Katrina Ramser

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