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Go in Snow - 2017 SUV Review: 2017 Kia Sorento V6 SX-L AWD By Steve Purdy

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LEARN MORE: Competitive SUV's MSRP $45-50,000, With Similar Specs As 2017 Kia Sorento SLX AWD

Review by Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau

I had a big road-trip job to do in our flavor–of-the-week Kia Sorento CUV – laying out a 90-mile rally route for a group of vintage car lovers attempting to get from Ann Arbor, west of Detroit, to a car museum northeast of Detroit without getting caught up in urban traffic and, hopefully, involving some scenic roads. The Sorento proved to be a fine steed for this project since it involved a lot of long hours of seat time while exploring unfamiliar roads. Typical automotive map and navigation systems are not particularly good at this kind of project, but fortunately I had an unusually good hard-copy map of southeast Michigan to guide me. Extended time in the Sorento’s driver’s seat proved nice and comfortable.

Sorento is Kia’s mid-size, two- or three-row, 5- or 7-passenger crossover with front- or all-wheel drive. It competes well with a variety of fine competitors from other mainstream manufacturers. Our tester is the loaded 7-passenger version. Other three-row competitors include GM’s Buick Enclave and Chevy Traverse, Nissan Pathfinder, Dodge Durango, Toyota Highlander, Ford Flex and Hyundai Santa Fe among others. As crossovers become more popular in the marketplace the large ones help fuel that surge.

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Styling and design on the outside will turn few heads but it is reasonably attractive and conservatively modern. Styling trends for many brands have been getting more angular and exaggerated of late but Sorento has not caught up to this trend though some other Kia products have. The large, mostly vertical front fascia has the traditional chipmunk grille, striking quad fog lights on each lower cheek, squinty projector beam headlights and a jutting chin. Its wide stance gives a muscular look while smooth and taut character lines wrap around the side to a nondescript rear view. The big chrome wheels on this one add a touch of boldness.

Sorento’s interior is well designed and nicely appointed as well, but you’ll not mistake it for a luxury vehicle. The information and control pod with large-enough touch screen in the center of the dash works well, though some of the functions stymied me at first. In fact, I never was able to find a way to make the map quit zooming in and out according to vehicle speed. I’m sure there is some reason for that, though I don’t get it. Most systems make it easy to disable that function. Not so much with this one. Simplicity and functionality characterize the layout of the dash with easily managed inputs and easily understood information.

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Generous second row seating will accommodate full-size people and the third row is good for kids and dogs. Ingress and egress are good. Second row seatbacks fold 60/40 for added cargo and the third row folds 50/50 with an easy pull on a strap sticking out the back. Cargo capacity is not best-in class and a tad less than average for this size of vehicle. With all seats in position we have a meager 11.3 cubic feet of cargo space; 38.0 cubic feet with the third row seatbacks folded; and a 73.0 cubic feet with both rows folded. Active families with a bunch of kids may find this a bit limiting. For most, though, it is plenty.

Three engines are available in the Sorento – a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, a 2.0-liter turbo and our test car’s naturally aspirated 3.3-liter V6. All get the same 6-speed automatic transmission. With a good 290 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque it feels entirely adequate but not impressive in terms of acceleration on this two-ton vehicle. The EPA estimates we can get 17 mpg in the city 23 on the highway and 19 mpg combined with our all-wheel drive version using regular fuel. Expect a couple clicks better with front-wheel drive. The 18-gallon fuel tank makes for an excellent cruising range. We were able to achieve 23.5 mpg on our back road explorations at relatively moderate speeds.

Kia lists its towing capacity at 3,500 pounds for the front-wheel drive and a substantial 5,000 pounds for the all-wheel drive.

Our Sorento test vehicle is the top-of-the-line, 7-passenger, all-wheel drive SXL version showing a base price on the sticker of $46,700. We have only one option – a $395 Snow White Pearl paint job. With the destination charge the sticker shows $46,990 on the bottom line. For that price we get a lot of content: nappa leather trim inside, heated and cooled front seats, heated second row seats, panoramic sunroof, window shades, smart key with pushbutton start, premium audio, navigation, surround view monitor, flashy 19-inch chrome wheels, hands-free power liftgate, HID headlights with automatic leveling and light bending, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, and a whole suite of safety and driver assistance features.

You can have the 5-passenger entry level ‘L’ model beginning at just $25,600 with no options. Seven trim levels in all complete the range and you can add all-wheel drive to all but the bottom end ‘L.’

Sorento’s driving dynamics are quite good. Throttle response, sift quality, ride and handling will not disappoint. The conventional suspension geometry and tuning strike a good balance between comfort and good control. Steering feedback is decent as are other driver ergonomics. All Sorentos come standard with three drive modes – sport, normal and eco - that adjust shift points and a variety of other factors to maximize either sporty performance or economical operation. The distinction we feel between the modes is more than we’ve experienced with many vehicles similarly equipped.

Kia’s warranty covers the whole Sorento for 5 years or 60,000 miles and the powertrain for 10 years or 100,000 miles – among the best in the industry. Kia has scored at or near the top of the J.D. Power Initial Quality Surveys for the past few years as well.

With just about every Kia and Hyundai review we’ve done in recent years we’ve commented about the generous content and quality for the money we get with these brands. That advantage continues. Be sure to put this one on your list if you’re shopping in the three-row crossover market.

Oh, by the way, we were able to find a mostly scenic route around the city through small towns and around the lakes of northern Oakland County to get to the museum – 90 miles of good county roads with only three miles of state highway . . . and no freeways.

© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

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