It’s tough to stand out among the crowd of two- and three-seat SUVs, but Kia has managed to do so with its all-new Sorento.
The elegantly simple styling is the first thing to get your attention, but the handsomely executed interior and the choice of five- or seven-passenger configuration is noteworthy. Prices start at $24,900 for the front-wheel drive L and top out at $43,100 for the SX Limited with a V-6. That’s quite a spread, but it gives buyers a chance to find a vehicle that fits their pocketbook.
The redesign of the Sorento, as well as the Sedona minivan, shows that Kia understands the value of design. Former Audi designer Peter Schreyer is the president of design for both Kia and Hyundai, and his influence is obvious. Both the Sorento and Sedona have an understated simplicity that is difficult to achieve: Too conservative and the vehicle gets boring, too bold and you end up with gaudy and gimmicky.
You may get hooked on looks, but performance and versatility are the things that will make you happy with your purchase for a long time. The Sorento is available with a 2.4-liter, 185-horsepower four-cylinder; a 3.3-liter V-6 with 290 horsepower, and the engine I would choose, a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder with 240 horsepower.
The little turbo is a good example of how computer-controlled electronics let engineers squeeze this much horsepower out of such a small package. There is very little hesitation, or turbo lag, when accelerating from a stop, and cruising at highway speeds is effortless. Fuel economy is rated at 19 in the city and 25 on the highway. I averaged 27 miles per gallon on a 100-mile road trip.
The five-passenger Sorento has a 109.4-inch wheelbase that is 3 inches longer than the previous model. It comes standard with a 40/20/40 second-row folding seat. The seven-passenger model has a 50/50 folding third seat and it is only available with the V-6.
The heated and cooled front seats in the SX Limited were properly contoured and delivered support in all the right places. The headrests have fore and aft adjustment.
The instrument panel is attractive and functional. The eight-inch LCD screen is used for navigation, backup camera and audio.
I was impressed with the test vehicle’s long list of safety items, such as stability control, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitor, brake assist, rollover mitigation, forward collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert and cornering brake control.
Kia’s UVO telematics system connects to your smartphone and will mark the location of the vehicle when you park. No more searching crowded parking lots. Apps such as Siri Eyes Free, Pandora, iHeart Radio and Yelp are also available.
The independent rear suspension and adjustable dampers do a good job of providing a compliant ride with handling that is almost like that of a sedan. The optional all-wheel-drive system routes power to the wheels with the most traction. The lock mode splits engine power equally between front and rear wheels and that is most handy for winter conditions. The system also has torque-vectoring control that helps the vehicle be more responsive in turns.
The base price of the test vehicle was $41,700. Options included leather seats, Xenon headlights, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, surround-view monitor and adaptive cruise control. The sticker price was $45,095.
Five years or 60,000 miles with a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Tom Strongman’s e-mail address is email@example.com
2015 Kia Sorento SXL AWD
Engine: 2.0-liter, 240-horsepower four-cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 109.4 inches
Curb weight: 4,101 pounds
Base price: $41,700
As driven: $45,095
MPG rating: 19 in the city, 25 on the highway