Words: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography: Stephen Spyropoulos
Published: May 10, 2016
The Kia Sorento can’t seem to find where it belongs in the market. It plays in the middle of two very diversified categories between small crossovers like the Toyota RAV4 and mid-sized vehicles like the Nissan Pathfinder. Finding the happy medium, the Sorento offers a city friendly experience with 7-seat accommodation, a wealth of storage, and safety features that are normally trademarks of larger vehicles. For some consumers, the Sorento is the Goldilocks of SUVs, landing in the sweet spot of the market.
Updated for 2016, the Sorento gains some much-needed exterior changes that keeps up with the rest of the Kia lineup. It is slightly larger than before but still remains “right-sized.” But these looks aren’t just superficial. They are backed up by substance, manifested in a comfortable ride, an upscale interior, and reassuring handling—not to mention the peace of mind that comes with driving an SUV that was rated as a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Starting at a base price of just $27,495, the lower tier LX model comes with a 185-hp four-cylinder motor. If you want more power, the Sorento can be optioned with a turbo four cylinder that pumps out 240-hp, or a V6 motor that churns out 290-hp. If you want a third-row seating bench it will cost you a few thousand more.
We had the opportunity to test a fully kitted out SX Turbo trim model that adds in Premium Black Nappa leather seats that are both air-cooled and heated, an 8-inch multimedia interface, LED Fog lights, 19-inch alloy wheels, and a massive panoramic sunroof. With the turbocharged four-pot you’ll always get the kids to hockey practice on time. The 240 horsepower motor is routed through a six-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels.
On road, the Sorento delivers a clean ride, it absorbs pavement flaws effectively, and transmits very low levels of road and wind noise into the cabin. This type of ride quality gives the Sorento a very mature and sophisticated feel. Handling, which is traditionally not one of Kia’s fortes, (pun intended) is responsive and secure on the Sorento. Although it does fall short of being agile or sporty to drive, the steering is well weighted with appropriate effort and response.
A decent turning circle aids parking lot maneuverability, and the AWD system is unobtrusive. During my test week we had a bout of snowfall, and the Sorento performed marvelously thanks to the differential button on the center console that sends equal power to both front and rear axles for better traction.
The 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo is smooth and punchy when in the meaty parts of the powerband. I did notice a big drawback when opting for the turbo, which is the lag at takeoff and at low engine speeds. Given more room to run, the turbo spools to life and provides a thrust of power that propels the Sorento to 102 km/h in under 8 seconds. Braking performance was very good, with short stops on wet, dry, and snow-covered terrain. Over my test week I averaged 10.8 L/100km on a mix of 50/50 city/highway. Not too shabby and definitely within range of the claimed 10.9 L/100km combined average.
The interior fit and finish is a step above what you would find in the rivaling Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. With a two-tone design for the dashboard and doors, supple leather seating with decorative cross-stitching, and plenty of wood and chrome trim to boot, the Sorento’s cabin is even more stylish and upscale than rivals like the Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Highlander. The added gadgets like heated steering wheel, power-retracting side mirrors and rear window sunshades add to the premium feel. However, black is the main colour for all trim interiors – there are no bright colours options to be had.
The UVO Infotainment system teams up with your phone to make hands-free calls and manage music. It was very quick to detect and sync up my phone, with minimal effort on my end past the initial set up phase. Traditional volume and tune knobs keep the audio system learning curve at a bare minimum. On-screen buttons on the 8-inch screen are sized adequately and keep everything organized so that you can set your music and go. The Sorento features a superb 630-watt 12 speaker Infinity sound system that provides powerful bass, bright mids, and crisp high tones.
The Sorento SX Turbo is priced at $42,095 before any options or delivery, which puts it a few thousand more than a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Limited that gives drivers similar features including the massive dual-pane moonroof. The Kia justifies the premium with softer interior materials and subjectively better exterior styling. Ask me to choose between the Sorento and the Sante Fe, and I would put my money with the Kia.
It may be a tweener that fits in two segments, but it is the right size for me. Personally, I would get it specified just like this, but I wouldn’t opt for the extra $200 Snow White Pearl paint job as it gets dirty quite easily. But for the sheer performance, safety and undeniable good looks, the Sorento is a great choice for consumers that want to look outside of the Japanese “Big 3”.
型号 Model: 2016 Kia Sorento SX Turbo AWD
顏色 Paint Type: Snow White Pearl
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $42,095
試車售價 Price as Tested: $42,295
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,780
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,760 / 1,890 / 1,690
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,816
引擎 Engine: 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 240 hp @ 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 1,450 - 3,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 12.3 / 9.3 / 10.9
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 10.8
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P235/55R19