Kia introduced its next-generation Sorento to the world at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, but at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, Americans got their first chance to learn details about the Sorento that arrives in showrooms right after the holidays. In the U.S. market, the 2016 Kia Sorento will be available with a choice among three different engines and in five different trim levels, combined with numerous improvements over the outgoing model.
Kia says its Cross GT Concept vehicle influenced the 2016 Sorento's styling, yet this new version of its family-sized crossover SUV retains cues that easily identify it as a Sorento, particularly when viewed in profile. Similar to the latest version of Kia's Sedona minivan, the new Sorento's grille features a 3-D diamond pattern for a more upscale appearance. Built with what Kia claims is a stronger structure than the previous model, the new Sorento enjoys a 3.1-in. wheelbase stretch, slight increase in width, lower ride height, and improved aerodynamics.
When it goes on sale in January 2015, the 2016 Sorento will be offered in L, LX, EX, SX, and SXL trim levels. Depending on which of those a buyer selects, the Sorento features LED running lights, LED taillights, and LED fog lights. Aluminum wheels are standard, offered in a variety of designs, and sized between 17 and 19 in. in diameter.
Kia says it has designed the new Sorento's cabin on a horizontal plane, employing premium textures and soft-touch materials on the dashboard, door panels, and center console. Premium Nappa leather upholstery is available.
Choose a Sorento with a 4-cylinder engine and it seats 5 people. Sorentos with a V-6 engine can accommodate 7 people in 3 rows of seating. Kia has increased legroom for both rows of rear seats, and makes it easier to clamber into the third row thanks to an extra 1.5 in. of clearance.
Cargo space behind the third-row seat grows to 11 cu. ft. while maximum cargo room expands to 74 cu. ft. Kia does not provide a measurement for space behind the second-row seat, but it is likely larger than what the current version of the Sorento supplies, putting it near 40 cu. ft.
Note that in the new Sorento, the second-row seats fold from the back of the vehicle using a lever, meaning there's no need to open the rear doors to achieve this task.
Given the broad array of trim levels, the 2016 Kia Sorento is available with numerous upgrades that transform it from an affordable entry-level model to a near-luxury SUV.
Highlights of available features include premium Nappa leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and dual-zone automatic climate control. A driver's seat with 14-way power adjustment and a thigh extension cushion is also available, along with an 8-way power front passenger's seat. Additionally, the new 2016 Sorento can be fitted with a panoramic sunroof and several infotainment and safety-related features detailed below.
Under the Hood
Three different engines will be available for the 2016 Kia Sorento. The standard engine for the more affordable trim levels is a 185-horsepower, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. As an option, buyers can choose a turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine rated to make 240 horsepower.
Higher-priced versions of the new Sorento are equipped with 3 rows of seats and a 3.3-liter V-6 engine generating 290 horsepower. The V-6 is rated to tow up to 5,000 lbs., and all three engines feature a 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.
An all-wheel-drive (AWD) system is optional, automatically distributing power as traction conditions warrant. A Lock mode splits the power evenly between the front and rear wheels to enhance low-speed traction. Versions of the Sorento equipped with the AWD system also include Torque Vector Cornering Control to help eliminate understeer when taking tighter corners with speed, as well as Cornering Brake Control and Roll Over Mitigation systems.
Additionally, Kia engineers have changed their approach to the Sorento's steering and suspension in a bid to improve the crossover SUV's handling.
Above and beyond the Sorento's standard safety package, Kia offers a reversing camera, blind-spot detection system, rear cross-traffic alert system, and a forward-collision warning system. A surround-view monitoring system is also available, and buyers can also choose a smart cruise control system.
Buy a Sorento with the UVO eServices technology and the SUV is equipped with Geo-Fencing, Speed Alert, Curfew Alert, and Driving Score technologies, perfect for when younger drivers in the household might be using the family Kia.
Every 2016 Sorento will have Bluetooth connectivity and voice-recognition technology, and those equipped with UVO eServices will get an 8-in. touch-screen display in place of the standard 4.3-in. screen.
Downloads from the Kia App Store are compatible with the UVO eServices system, which also features Google Local Search, Siri Eyes Free, and Travel Link service, among other upgrades. Add the available navigation system and USB 2.0 ports are included.
Kia also will offer a 630-watt premium audio system with 12 speakers and Clari-Fi music-restoration technology designed to improve the sound quality of compressed music files.