By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 8.5
The 2016 Kia Sorento builds on everything we already like about Kia's midsize crossover SUV. The new Sorento is bigger, but not so much so that it sacrifices the old Sorento's maneuverability. The 2016 Sorento also has more high-tech features, offering things like adaptive cruise control, an all-around-view camera, and Siri Eyes Free for your iPhone. You have a new engine to choose from, a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that splits the difference in performance and fuel economy between the standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder and the upgrade 3.3-liter V6 engine. The styling inside and out is sharp and spot-on, and the driving experience is also markedly improved. We'll put it this way: If you liked the old Sorento, you'll love this new one.
If you're looking for a 2- or 3-row crossover SUV, but don't want extra bulk, the new Sorento may be just the ticket. With three engines to choose from, sharp looks, and plenty of high-tech features, there's a lot to like.
While Kia positions the new Sorento against the Jeep Cherokee, it doesn't offer that SUV's off-road chops. In addition, while the smaller size is helpful in parking lots, it results in a slightly smaller interior, without as much cargo space behind the third row as some of its rivals.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2016 Kia Sorento is an all-new design this year. In addition to new styling inside and out, this midsize crossover SUV is a little bigger in all dimensions, offers a plethora of new high-tech options, and offers a choice of three different engines.
The Kia Sorento built its sales on a combination of convenient size, price, and plentiful features. However, its driving experience hasn't been much to write home about....
... Kia worked hard to rectify this on the new Sorento, starting with a new power-steering mechanism on SX and Limited models that imparts a more natural feel. We're happy to see the V6 engine return, but the new 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder – available on 2-row EX and Limited models – is a good alternative with excellent low-end power. The 6-speed automatic transmission is as smooth and unobtrusive as you could hope for, and the suspension never called attention to itself for being too harsh or too soft. The new all-wheel-drive (AWD) system's Torque Vectoring Cornering Control enhances traction and cornering stability by actively apportioning power and torque to where it's most needed, helpful for traction in bad weather, and for better grip in the dry, too.
Kia's Smart Liftgate makes it even easier to open the power hatch on the Sorento when your hands are full. Instead of pushing a button on the SUV's key fob, you just stand near the rear for a few seconds with the fob in your pocket, and the liftgate opens.
TURBOCHARGED 4-CYLINDER ENGINE
The new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine does an admirable job of giving drivers the power they'd get from the V6, but with fuel economy closer to the non-turbo 4-cylinder. We just wish it was available in more models.
The 2016 Sorento maintains Kia's reputation for interiors that feel more luxurious than you'd think, especially on Limited models with their softer leather. Yet all models benefit from the new dash and interior design, which borrow from Kia's K900 and Cadenza luxury sedans. The front-row and 2nd-row seats are comfortable, with plenty of headroom and legroom, but like most midsize SUVs, the third row is reserved for the smallest of adults and children. Cargo space behind the third row is limited to small items, but fold it down and you have more than adequate room for larger items.
Is the new Sorento the best looking SUV in its class? Maybe. We like the blunt nose, and Kia's "tiger nose" grille treatment looks exceptionally good here. The Sorento's added length goes a long way to reducing the stubbiness of the old car, making the new SUV look sleeker and much more modern. Base and LX models offer 17-inch wheels, while EX models get 18-inchers, and SX gets big 19-inchers, which are chrome on V6 Limited models. The LED fog lights and additional chrome trim on Limited models make for a convincingly upscale look.
The base 2016 Kia Sorento L comes equipped with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, seating for five, air conditioning, Bluetooth, a USB input, and audio and cruise controls on the tilt-telescoping steering wheel. A better bet is the LX, which adds UVO, a backup camera and sound-deadening windshield glass. EX models come standard with the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, plus more sound insulation, dual-zone climate control, leather, and an 8-way power driver's seat. Sorento SX models add blind-spot detection with cross-traffic alert, navigation and an Infinity sound system, while Limited models include premium Nappa leather and heated and ventilated front seats.
The 290-horsepower V6 engine is an option on LX, EX, and Limited models, and standard on the SX. All-wheel drive is also available on all models except the take-it-or-leave-it base L. Most other upgrades are bundled into option packages, such as the LX model's Convenience package adds a power driver's seat, heated front seats, and backup sensors. An EX Premium Package adds the Smart Liftgate, blind-spot detection and push-button start, while the Technology Package for Limited models adds adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and the all-around-view parking monitor.
New Sorento buyers have a choice of engines, but it gets complicated. Standard in L and LX models is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder offering up 185 horsepower, 178 lb-ft of torque, and the best fuel economy – 29 mpg on the highway. The standard engine in EX and Limited Sorento SUVs is the new 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, with 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. However, that engine is only available on 2-row models. Three-row EX and Limited models, and all SX models, come with the 3.3-liter V6 with its 290 horsepower. A 6-speed automatic is the only transmission available. All-wheel drive is available on all models except the base L, and features a locking center differential for extremely low-traction situations, and Torque Vectoring Cornering Control, which makes the Sorento more secure in corners regardless of traction conditions.
185 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
178 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/29 mpg (front-wheel drive), 21/26 (AWD)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
240 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 1,450 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg (front-wheel drive), 19/25 (AWD)
290 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
252 lb-ft of torque @ 5,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 mpg (front-wheel drive, AWD LX and EX), 17/23 (AWD SX and Limited)
There's a 2016 Kia Sorento for virtually any budget. Base L models start just under $26,000 (including the $895 destination charge), but the $27,000 Sorento LX is worth the extra money thanks to additional features and available options, and that's still lower than many SUV competitors. On the high end, Limited models start at about $40,800 with the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, or a bit more than $42,000 with the V6. Add the $1,800 all-wheel-drive system, and a loaded 2016 Sorento Limited V6 will cost you a bit less than $45,000. That's on par with competitors like the Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Highlander, and note that well-equipped mid-range models like the EX are still well under $40,000. Be sure to check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying, and note that the New Sorento should hold its value pretty well over the long haul.