Written by: Robert Nichols
Photography by: Robert Nichols
When the engineers at Kia set about the task of redesigning the Sorento for 2016, they were clearly targeting the premium market. They must have hired spies to infiltrate Lexus, BMW, Mercedes and Audi, with the purpose of learning what these brands would be offering, what areas they would be focusing on (i.e. ride quality or performance) and then Kia would use this info to beat them at their own game. That is the only explanation I can think of that explains how the Sorento went from “okay” to “Wow!” with little more than a face lift.
Kia lent me a 2016 Sorento SX+ V6 for the week and the new front end really grabbed my attention, it is very handsome. The quad LED fog lights look fantastic; the new dark metallic grill has a depth to it that adds a masculine touch. The overall size of the vehicle has increased over the last generation (in both width and wheelbase). The increased proportions give a broader more planted appearance.
CUV’s are not supposed to good looking, are they? They are supposed to be utilitarian, gruff alternatives to the dreaded minivan - well, not anymore. Kia is also offering some attractive high end accessories - like illuminated stainless steel front door scuff plates, a stainless steel skid plate, dual oval chrome exhaust tips, chrome roof rails, projector halogen beam headlights and a rear LED light bar.
My tester was equipped with the optional flip up rear seats that make it possible to haul seven people. The flip up seats are more than just a marketing ploy; they will actually accommodate a living breathing human adult. Mind you, I would not want to do a long journey back there, but short trips would be met with no complaint. The sliding second row seating is even more comfortable; offering abundant leg room, a roof height that will accommodate even the tallest among us, and the seats will fold flat easily with the tug of a handle located in the rear cargo bay.
When all the seats are laid flat, the space available is an ample 2,082L, but even with all the seats occupied you still have 320L of room behind the third row. This area can still accommodate large items like coolers or boxes. The rear hatch is powered and opens to a height that enabled me to stand up straight without fear of concussion, and the load height is just right, even for the vertically impaired (a term I use as my friends do not like being called short).
Moving forward, literally, we arrive at the front seats which- in my fully loaded top trim tester - were swathed in lovely black Nappa leather. Both front seats can be heated or chilled. The driver will spend far too much time playing with the 14-way power adjustable seat and even the passenger has 8-way power adjustability, so you can easily see that Kia has focused on comfort. The seats are very comfortable, bolstered enough to keep you planted but never too snug. The second row passengers have heated seats and their own a/c controls, which I guess you could say gives the Sorento a tri-zone climate system.
There is endless and ingenious storage throughout the cabin and everything looks premium. The panoramic sunroof will impress and the manual sunscreens for the 2nd row occupants will keep your offspring from getting a nasty burn on long trips. I have but one complaint: with the exception of the alloy pedals, the stitching and a few trim pieces, absolutely everything inside is black. If I were an astronomer I may be tempted to liken the interior to a black-hole that absorbs all light, but I am not so let’s move on. (This appears to be the only colour option and while it does have various sheens, it may not be to everyone’s liking. If you are Goth, look no further.)
On the technological front, the Kia will also make you question the value of buying a premium brand. The stereo in my tester was nothing short of awesome. The 630-watt, 12-speaker Infinity stereo system with an 11-channel amplifier, uses something called Clari-Fi technology. Basically Clari–Fi works in real-time to rebuild audio details lost in digitally compressed music via an algorithm that reconstructs the music to pre-digital compression levels. In other words your mp3’s have never sounded so good.
The 8-inch touch screen interface in my test vehicle could teach many manufacturers a thing or two about simplicity and sensible function. The clear graphics and logical programs are a breeze to acclimate to and the abundance of information will keep your co-pilot occupied.
I apologize for this next paragraph; it will sound like a sales brochure, but I want to get across the amount of technology Kia is offering - as standard fare - because this is one way the brand is setting itself above the herd. All 2016 Sorentos come with: Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), Brake Assist System (BAS), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Antilock Braking System (ABS). For those who opt for the AWD models you gain additional technologies such as Roll-Over Mitigation (ROM) and Cornering Brake Control (CBC). New for 2016 are the driver aids like Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS), Smart Cruise Control (SCC), Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Surround View Monitor (SVM).
The only recent electronic wizardry the Sorento does not have available is self-parking, and really if you have a valid driver’s license you shouldn’t need that anyway. To get that amount of technology in a premium brand, for example the Land Rover I drove just prior to this, you would need to shell out at least an extra $10,000.
There are 3 engines available, and all use the same smooth shifting 6-speed automatic transmission. The base engine is a naturally aspirated 2.4L four-cylinder that makes 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. The next option is a more powerful 2.0L turbo four-cylinder that pumps out an eager 240 horses and a stout 260 lb-ft. Then there is the engine I tested, the one I would select; the naturally aspirated 3.3L V6 that creates 290 hp and 252 lb-ft.
With the AWD option you could tow up to 2,268 kg or 5,000 lbs. You will never feel you need more power. The quiet powertrain works seamlessly in the background and delivers ample get up and go as soon as you press your foot down. The fuel economy was good and the estimates found below reflect the real world figures I achieved.
On the road, the Sorento has lost the overly firm “Sport” suspension setup. Instead it has been replaced with a logically softer setup that delivers comfort. It never jars you and although there is some body-roll in corners, the amount is nothing to worry about and only adds to the comfort. Rather than sitting flat through a fast bend resulting in your organs being sloshed about, the Kia takes the hit and your insides remain stable and unbruised. The AWD system functions autonomously unless the driver selects the 4WD lock mode which evenly distributes the power delivery fore and aft. The power boosted steering is well weighted but could be more communicative and there is a pleasant engine note that emanates from under the hood.
By virtue of the new front end and classier, sleeker body the Sorento should get a second look. By adding a luxurious interior with textured soft leathers, ample comfort and all the technology you really need and by offering all the power and amenities of vehicles that cost thousands more, the 2016 Kia Sorento may just steal some premium buyers away.
型号 Model: 2016 Kia Sorento SX+ V6 AWD (7-seater)
顏色 Paint Type: Regency Red (Pearl)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $27,495
試車售價 Price as Tested: $46,695
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,780
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,760 / 1,890 / 1,685
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,970
引擎 Engine: 3.3-litre naturally aspirated V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 290 hp @ 6,400 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 252 lb-ft @ 5,300 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 13.4 / 9.4 / 10.8
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 235/55R19; Michelin Premier LTX