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First Drive Review - 2016 Kia Sorento SXL V6 AWD by Henny Hemmes +VIDEO

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2016 Kia Sorento SXL

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor

      • SEE ALSO: Kia Research and Buyers Guide

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2016 Kia Sorento SXL

A lot has changed for corporate brothers Hyundai and Kia since the introduction in 2010 of the new designs that were initiated by Peter Schreyer (who had joined Kia in 2006 as Chief Design Officer). From then on he coordinated design at Kia’s styling studios in Korea, Frankfurt, Irvine California and Tokyo. With modern styling and also thanks to both brands catching up with technology and safety, sales of both brands have risen sharply. In 2013, Mr. Schreyer was appointed as the first non-Korean member of the board of Hyundai Motor Group, responsible for design of both brands.

Every now and then, I have the opportunity and time to drive a new car for more than a couple of days. Last fall, this was the case with the 2016 Kia Sorento SXL with optional AWD. When I picked up the crossover, I realized once again that cars look so much better on the road then on the show floor. The new Sorento had been introduced more than a year ago at the Paris Motor Show. The 2016 model is built on a platform that has been stretched by 3.1 inches and modified to increase torsional rigidity by 14 percent. The percentage of advanced high-strength steel in the uni-body has been increased by 115 percent.

The new exterior design was influenced by the Cross GT Concept (but still has some cues from its predecessor) and is now in line with the brand identity thanks to the 3-D diamond grille. There are five trim levels, L, LX, EX and SX.

Our test car, the SX Limited is equipped with a 290 hp V-6 and all-wheel drive, as well as two options: snow white pearl paint and white leather seats. Inside the Kia looks beautiful, although the white leather would not be my own choice because wearing jeans could leave some blue color.

The V-6 sounds a little bit rough just after the start, but its power and torque are readily available and smoothly delivered, while the 6-speed automatic is well adjusted to work with it in a hardly noticeable way. Even with a weight of over 4,300 pounds, the Sorento is quick off the blocks. Kia mentions an acceleration time from zero to 60 mph of 7.2 seconds and we may well believe this. But Kia does not regard speed to be the most important feature here, nor its handling. But I have to say that handling, also at the relatively higher speeds that I'm used to driving at, is very good. The steering feel, electrically enhanced, is accurate, although I would prefer somewhat more information. The Sorento feels confident and safe on twisty roads, as do the brakes, which are well-equipped to get the car to a quick stop.

However, the main selling points of the new Sorento are space, practicality, and comfort. The car is quiet indeed, wicks away bad parts of the roads and feels serene.

As the weather was great and I did not go into the mountains and test the terrain capabilities of the AWD system. And even the Sport-shift mode was a bit of an over kill in daily traffic, but good to have available on the famous Mulholland Drive test route.

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2016 Kia Sorento SXL

The cabin is well executed with nice materials and it is quiet inside, indeed. The front seats are comfortable and there is enough leg space for people on the second row, which seats three... or two, who then will have the luxury of a central arm rest with cup holders.

The third row is bigger but not so suitable for longer rides. It is easier to access though than before with sliding and auto folding second row seats. Trunk space is excellent and can be expanded by folding the seats down so that there will be flat floor all the way down from the back of the front seats, expanding the volume form 11.3 tot 73.0 cu. ft.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2016 Kia Sorento SXL

The 2016 Sorento offers a premium look with an attractive and roomy cabin. It's equipped with new infotainment and safety technologies (on all models), such as lane change assistant and adaptive cruise control, a roll over sensor, hill start assist, heated mirrors with LED indicators and a rear-camera display.

It has a great warranty, an excellent five start crash test score (but lacks third row roof airbags). The test drive’s consumption was 20.1 mpg, which I thought to be adequate for an all-wheel drive vehicle with a weight of over 3,400 lbs.

The Sorento is an excellent companion for much less money than comparable models in the premium segment. To be honest, even though my favorite type of car is a (very) sporty one, I realized that I had become quite attached to driving the Sorento when it was time to end my test drive.

Initial promo video from 2014

Technical details 2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

Engine 3.3-liter, V-6 GDI, petrol

Power 216 kW/290 hp at 66.400 rpm

Torque 342 Nm/252 lb-ft at 5,300 rpm

Transmission 6-speed automatic w/Sportmatic

Full-time AWD w/center lock differential

Kerb weight 4,313 lbs

Towing capacity 5,000 lbs

L/w/h 187.4/74.4/66.5 in.

Cargo volume (behind 3/2/1st row)11.3/38.0/73.0 cu-ft.

Wheel base 109.4 in.

Ground clearance 7.3 in.

Approach angle (degrees) 16.9

Departure angle (degrees) 21.0

Wheels/tires 19-inch chrome alloy 235/55/19

Acceleration 0-100 km/h (62mph) 7.2 sec

Top speed mph N/A

Fuel economy 17/23 mpg EPA, 5.3 gall/100 miles.

CO2 emission 465 g/100 miles

Price $ 43.100 (MSRP) (price as tested $ 46,695)