January 7 , 2016 /

Kia Sorento

Overall: NEW_for_2016_3It looks similar to the 2015 model, but beneath a conservative-yet-attractive shell is a sophisticated wagon that’s as capable and comfortable as some more expensive rigs.

Drivetrain: A trio of choices include two four-cylinder engines (one turbocharged) and a potent V6; AWD is optional, while a six-speed transmission handles the shifting chores.

With numerous updates and luxury/safety amenities, the 2016 Sorento isn’t afraid to play with the more established segment leaders including the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Highlander. The latest edition shows a strong similarity to the previous version, but most noticeable is a larger honeycomb grille and lower air intake, revised headlights and fog lights and an enlarged roof spoiler and new taillamps. Less obvious is the distance between the front and rear wheels that has grown by more than three inches. Width is about the same as before. The increase amounts to a bit more cargo space, whether the second- and optional third-row seats are folded (almost) flat or are left in their upright positions. Second-row legroom has also increased, as has access to the optional third row. The dashboard now appears less cluttered, with easier-to-use/find (larger) knobs and dials and bigger fresh-air vents. The Sorento uses a modified platform that’s more rigid by 14 percent and is built using more laser welds in key spots. There’s also greater use of industrial-strength adhesives, which provides added stiffness. More sound insulation means a cabin that is almost devoid of outside road and wind noise. For 2016, the Sorento’s base powertrain is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. That’s a bit less than the previous 2.4’s 191/181 numbers, but the new engine gets better fuel economy. A newly available turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder increases performance to 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, while returning unchanged is a 3.3-liter V6 that delivers 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet. Note that the V6 is mandatory if you want to outfit your Sorento with the third-row seat. Regardless of engine choice, the gears are shifted via a six-speed automatic transmission. The front-wheel-drive Sorento L is strictly the price leader, while the LX, EX, SX and max-loaded SX Limited can be had with all-wheel-drive that splits the torque 95:5 (front:rear) when roads are flat and dry. When tire slip is detected – or during hard acceleration – front-to-rear torque split is 50:50. Additionally, depressing a “Lock” button on the control panel holds the split at 50:50 at low speeds for maximum traction.

Base price (incl. destination): $25,800
Type: Four-door tall wagon
Base engine (hp): 2.4-liter DOHC I4 (185)
Optional engine: 2.0-liter DOHC I4, turbocharged (240); 3.3-liter DOHC V6 (290)
Layout: Front-engine, front- /all-wheel-drive
Transmissions: Six-speed automatic
MPG (city/highway): 21/29 (2.4)
Weight (lb.): 3,600

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