Kia has only been in the Canadian marketplace for 16 short years, but in that time they have been able to utilize the resources of its parent company Hyundai to help carve out its own distinct brand.
Design is a big part of Kia’s success and this all-new third generation Kia Sorento is a perfect example of this approach. With fifty design awards under its belt, thanks to the direction of chief designer Peter Schreyer, Kia has pushed hard on the accelerator to update designs quickly, the last Sorento was introduced just two years ago.
Not only has the design been evolving but Kia now has the same 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder available on five passenger versions of the Sorento, something Hyundai had exclusively in the Santa Fe until now.
Since Kia and Hyundai share the vast majority of its platforms and engines, the design and packaging is what makes them unique. This Sorento is sold as a five passenger or seven passenger versions utilizing the same vehicle dimensions. Hyundai has a different approach; it uses two separate models to achieve the same result, a shorter Santa Fe and a larger Santa Fe XL. Since Kia straddle the two, it makes shopping simpler for buyers. In addition, Kia believes the lower priced, $27,495 base 4-cylinder model will be attractive for shopping in the smaller compact SUV space that might like more space. The more expensive turbo and V6 equipped versions will compete in the mid-sized SUV space. The design is more athletic and solid thanks to a wider, longer and lower body that is accented by a new grille, headlamps, optional LED fog lights and new rear lighting treatment. Unfortunately, to get navigation, LED marker lights, Xenon headlamps, LED taillights and the 19-inch wheels, the buyer needs to choose the top SX trim, these are not offered on lower models.
Kia has a relentless pace to which they change its vehicles. This is no minor update, on the heals of a major update just two years ago, The dash and interior materials have all been updated along with the layout and design. There is a pleasant look and feel to the dash; the top SX trim is the only one with the beautiful 8-inch centre screen, with rich graphics and easy to use interface. The other models get the 4-inch screen or just a radio readout. Both the 4-inch and 8-inch get a backup camera, the base model gets rear sonar sensors. The good news is heated seats are standard on all models. The middle EX trim is where most shoppers will buy, with features like leather seats, 10-way power driver’s seat, heated steering wheel and a 7-inch screen inside the instrument cluster. The top SX gets all the best stuff including the 8-inch navigation screen, heated rear seats, cooled front seats and upgraded Nappa leather. It’s a shame the bigger centre screen cannot be used on more trim levels.
Since Kia has added a new 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder engine into the mix, the ordering guide is a bit more complex, here is the easiest way to sort it out. The base LX five-seat is the only one sold with the 185hp 2.4L 4-cylinder engine, in both front wheel and all wheel drive. All other five-passenger models get the 240hp turbo and all seven-passenger models get the 290hp V6. The great news for five passenger buyers is that the turbo has more torque than the V6 and runs on regular grade gas. The V6 would be my choice thanks to its silky smooth power and more consistent fuel economy. Anyone who has ever driven a turbo knows that the power is great but if pushed, it will use more fuel. The all wheel drive models (AWD) now have a centre lock to continually lock the power with fifty percent going to the rear wheels. In addition, there is a new drive mode that changes the engine, transmission and steering feel for normal mode to sport or ECO for better fuel economy.
Kia does have a unique offering in the market thanks to three engines, and five or seven passenger options and in a practical sized vehicle. The new turbo is powerful and sophisticated engine that will be welcome buy new buyers. Since the seven-passenger model is available on all trim levels Kia believes that roughly thirty five percent of buyers will choose this model, up from the eleven percent that currently buy it now. The constant pursuit of advanced design and creature comforts is welcome, I wish that the 8-inch screen was available on more than just the SX trim and some of the exterior updates were also shared with lower trim levels. If you are in the market for a smaller SUV, this bigger Sorento is now an option and mid-sized buyers can choose from a turbo or V6 and five or seven passengers, there is a lot of choice.
Power: 185hp 2.4L, 240hp 2.0L turbo or 290hp 3.3L V6
Fill-up: 12.3L/9.3L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $27,495-$46,695
VIDEO: 2016 Kia Sorento Review by Motormouth Canada (Zack Spencer on YouTube)