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Kia Sorento

2016 Sorento SXL

Base Price: $24,900
Price as Tested: $45,825

By Russ Heaps

Kia has come a long way in the last few years as evidenced by the Kia Sorento and several other all-new or totally redesigned models. Spend 10 minutes in a K900 for a tutorial in how Kia has evolved as a brand. I’ll be amazed if you don’t walk away wondering how they do it for that price?

I was lucky enough to spend a 150 miles or so in the redesigned 2016 Sorento in the Lake Tahoe area in December. That’s where2016 Sorento SXL Kia introduced its midsize crossover to the automotive media. I am currently finishing up a week with an example of Sorento’s top-of-the-line SX Limited V6 trim at home in Greenville. Even without the patina of excitement motoring the Lake Tahoe roads added to my initial experience, I am more than impressed with the newest Sorento.

I do need to add the disclaimer that it’s pretty easy to like a vehicle stuffed with all the extras that came with my test Sorento’s nearly $46,000 price tag. Lots of goodies? You bet. Let’s tick off a few of them: Napa leather seating, 14-way power driver’s seat, first-/second-row heated seats, power-folding heated outboard mirrors, panoramic power sunroof, navigation system, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with piano black trim, power rear liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror and an Infinity 10-speaker surround-sound audio system with iPod interface.

The $2,700 or so in options added gear like an electronic parking brake, advanced Smart Cruise Control, birds-eye view cameras, lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning.

2016 Sorento SXLBut even the base L comes fairly well equipped with air conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, steering wheel-mounted redundant audio controls, trip computer, hill-start assist, Bluetooth connectivity and iPod interface.

Kia increased the Sorento’s footprint; it’s now a bit larger than before. That makes for a roomier cabin and some additional passenger elbow room. Second-row folks should appreciate the seats that recline and slide. They also fold flat when not occupied and you need extra cargo space. The third row folds flat as well. Yes, it’s basically for pint-sized kids, but smaller adults will survive short jaunts.

Wow, Kia has done a lot to upgrade the interior. Soft-touch surfaces and quality materials highlight the up-market cabin. There is nothing complicated about operating the core systems. It’s all quite intuitive. Seating is comfortable and supportive enough to keep you upright when tossing Sorento through the curves. Additionally, Sorento is quiet. Under most conditions, you won’t have a clue what sort of racket is going on outside the sheetmetal.

My test Sorento had the more powerful 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V6. However, two four-cylinder engines are standard on most versions: a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter and a 240-horsepower 2-liter turbo. Kia combines all three engines with a six-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel drive on my Greenville test Sorento is available on all but the base L for $1,800

Fuel economy varies depending on the engine and number of drive wheels. FWD with the 2.4L delivers an EPA-estimated 22 2016 Sorento SXLmpg city/29 mpg highway/24 mpg combined. With AWD those numbers drop to 21/26/23. FWD with the 2L turbo has an EPA rating of 20/27/23. AWD lowers those numbers to 19/25/22. The V6’s mileage is the same with FWD and AWD at 18/26/21.

I often find the opinions of valet parkers interesting. These kids are in lots of cars, but often whatever I am driving is the first of its kind they have the opportunity to park. Such was the case with the redesigned Sorento. The valet who brought the Sorento back to me at Soby’s in downtown Greenville was, at the least, excited about this crossover. He asked a half dozen questions about it and said a dealer test drive was in his near future. Sorento isn’t a vehicle I would guess a twenty-something would get all stoked about, but this one sure did. That a 35-year age spread doesn’t affect the enthusiasm for the Sorento is impressive to say the least.

Sorento’s ride is pleasingly pliant. It handles well and the steering is remarkably responsive. In every respect it is a joy to drive. The high-end versions are a bit pricy, but not in terms of their content. On the entry-level end, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better $25,000 crossover.