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2016 Kia Sorento: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2015

Like seemingly every Kia model nowadays, the 2016 Kia Sorento is moving on up. Although this family-friendly crossover's familiar fundamentals remain in place, including a convenient in-between size and available 3-passenger seating, the new Sorento is simply a lot nicer than it used to be. Materials quality has gone from also-ran status to almost class-leading, and the slick cabin technology features mark a similar leap forward. The 2016 Sorento is still a good value, but that's not the headline news anymore; what's remarkable about this Kia is that it's now one of the best vehicles in its class.

What's New for 2016?

The Sorento is all new this year.

What We Like

Upscale interior; refined driving dynamics; top-notch technology features; available turbocharged engine; reassuring warranty

What We Don't

A bit pricier than you might expect; can't combine turbo engine and 3-row seating

How Much?

$25,795-$40,795

Fuel Economy

The 2016 Kia Sorento L and LX models come with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are 21 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive (FWD) and 21 city/26 hwy with all-wheel drive (AWD).

The EX and Limited models feature a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder good for 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque as standard. Fuel economy checks in at 20 city/27 hwy with FWD and 19 city/25 hwy with AWD.

Standard on the Sorento SX and optional on LX, EX and Limited is a 3.3-liter V6 rated at 290 hp and 252 lb-ft. The V6's fuel economy predictably brings up the rear at 18 city/26 hwy (FWD) and 17 city/23 hwy (AWD).

A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard on all Sorento models.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Sorento is offered in L, LX, EX, SX and Limited trim levels. The L comes only with two seating rows, but a third-row seat is optional on the LX and standard on the SX. It's also included on EX and Limited models if the V6 engine is specified.

The Sorento L ($25,795) includes a decent roster of standard items, notably 17-inch aluminum wheels, air conditioning, power accessories and a 6-speaker audio system with a USB port and full Bluetooth connectivity.

The LX ($27,095) adds such luxuries as additional sound-deadening measures, roof rails, a 4.3-in touchscreen and a rearview camera.

The EX ($31,995) throws in 18-in wheels, rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, a power driver's seat, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and dual-zone automatic climate control.

The SX ($38,795) upgrades to 19-in wheels, a power tailgate with a foot sensor, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry/start, additional power adjustments for the driver's seat, driver memory functions, a high-resolution 8-in touchscreen with voice controls and 10-speaker Infinity audio with a subwoofer and HD radio.

The Limited ($40,795) tacks on Nappa leather upholstery, cooled front seats and heated second-row seats.

A Technology package for the Limited adds auto-leveling xenon headlights, a surround-view parking camera system, adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning. Lesser trims are eligible for a few packages that include some of the fancier models' standard features.

The Sorento offers solid passenger space in its sliding-and-reclining second-row seats, with plenty of room for 6-footers despite slightly lower seat bottoms than expected in a midsize crossover. The third row is designed for kids; you need to be pretty limber to climb back there, and legroom is limited once you're situated. Still, it's a handy feature, and adults can squeeze back there for short trips if necessary.

Cargo space is 11 cu ft. behind the third row (if specified), which is enough room for groceries, while a maximum of 74 cu ft. is available with the rear rows collapsed. Conveniently, the second-row seats can be folded via auxiliary levers mounted in the cargo bay.

Safety

The 2016 Sorento comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and 6 airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain). Available safety technologies include a blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning.

In crash tests conducted by the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Sorento received the top score of Good in every category.

Behind the Wheel

In our interior evaluation, we were struck by the Sorento's premium character. The materials are almost uniformly nice, with ample soft-touch surfaces, and there's a vibe of cohesiveness and refinement that wasn't present in earlier models. The gauges are crisp and clear, while the optional 8-in touchscreen features great graphics and intuitive operation. Throw in the Limited model's Nappa leather upholstery, and you'll get a legitimate alternative to some luxury crossovers we could name. This Kia is that good.

On the road, the Sorento's accurate steering system (with three levels of adjustable effort) inspires confidence, and ambient noise levels are generally quite low. The ride is smooth and supple on most surfaces. Under the hood, the turbocharged 4-cylinder is our favorite for its generous low-end torque and solid fuel economy, but you can't get it with the third-row seat, which limits its appeal. The V6 certainly has plenty of power, but its fuel economy suffers significantly.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Dodge Durango -- The 3-row Durango is larger, but it feels sporty and capable from behind the wheel.

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe -- The 3-row Santa Fe is a more spacious option from Kia's corporate cousin.

2015 Toyota Highlander -- The Highlander may seem like it's a class up from the Sorento, but Kia's latest efforts have closed the gap.

Used BMW X5 -- Looking for more luxury? A certified pre-owned X5 might hit the spot.

AutoTrader's Advice

The 2016 Sorento EX offers great value, providing extensive standard features without breaking the bank.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Kia Sorento: New Car Review - Autotrader