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    Review: 2016 Kia Sorento SXL T-GDI


    • The ugly duckling becomes the swan

    The story of the Kia Sorento can be best described as an ugly duckling to a swan. The first-generation was a rough and tumble, body-on frame SUV. It had some questionable choices in terms of interior materials and the engines drank gas like it was going out of style. The second-generation Sorento became a bit more mature in a number of key areas such as design, fuel economy, and refinement. But it still was missing that one thing, something that could put it over the top. Now we have come to the third-generation Sorento and Kia might have it figured out.

     

    The Sorento's design can be described as aspirational. When I was walking around the Sorento after it was dropped off, I was thinking of how much it reminded me of the last-generation Audi Q7 in terms of overall look. A lot of this comes from the boxy shape with rounded corners. The front end gets a larger a tiger-nose grille and LED fog lights. Chrome trim running along the side windows and nineteen-inch alloy wheels only add to the overall aspirational impression.

     


    2016 Kia Sorento SXL T GDI 11


    The interior of the Sorento looks and feels like something you would find in a more expensive crossover. Most surfaces in the Sorento are soft to the touch and have some decorative touch such as contrast stitching. The dash layout is very clean and controls are in logical order. The SX Limited comes with Nappa leather for all of the seats, though you would be hard-pressed to tell a difference between this and the standard leather used on lower trims of the Sorento. The front seats come with power adjustments, along with heat and ventilation. I found them to be quite comfortable once you figured out what adjustments needed to be made. The back seat has plenty of legroom thanks to a three-inch increase in overall length and the ability to slide the seat. Headroom is on par with the class, even with the SX Limited’s panoramic sunroof. The Sorento does have the option of a third-row, but it isn’t available on the Limited Turbo. You'll need to opt for a model with the V6 to get that.

     

    On the technology front, the Sorento SX Limited begins with a color display in the instrument cluster that acts as the speedometer, along with a trip computer. The screen is easy to read thanks to clear text and vibrant colors. The only downside is the screen can be washed out if sunlight hits it. An eight-inch screen with Kia UVO eServices and navigation is standard on the Limited and optional on lower trims. Kia’s infotainment system is one my favorite systems to use as it features a simple interface and fast responses.

     


    2016 Kia Sorento SXL T GDI 7



    The Sorento’s engine lineup is comprised of a 2.4L four-cylinder, a new turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder, and a 3.3L V6. My Sorento SX Limited tester came with the turbo producing 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque (arriving at 1,450 rpm). It comes with a six-speed automatic and the choice of either front or all-wheel drive. The 2.0L turbo is a bit of a disappointment as it has turbo lag, something I thought was banished with the current generation of turbo engines. Leaving a stop, there are a few seconds where you creep along before the turbo spools up and gets a punch of power. Once the turbo is working, the engine is quite responsive and willing to get up to speed at a decent rate. The six-speed automatic is the best part of the powertrain. Shifts are very smooth and the transmission is quick to downshift when you need a bit more oomph. The other disappointment comes in fuel economy as I only got an average of 21 MPG for the week, slightly lower than the 22.1 I got in the last-generation model equipped with the 3.3L V6.

     

    Personally, I would go for the V6 as it offers a better spread of power and would likely achieve around the same fuel economy as the turbo-four.

     

    Kia hasn’t messed with the Sorento’s ride and handling characteristics which is a very good thing. The suspension does an excellent job of isolating bumps and other road imperfections from those inside. On the highway, the Sorento is very quiet. No hint of road or wind noise came into the cabin. Steering has a little more heft, but some will complain they want more feel. But you need to keep in mind that Sorento is built for coddling passengers, not trying to be a sporty crossover.

     

    But like the last Sorento I drove, this one has a big value problem. The SX Limited with the Turbo and all-wheel drive starts at $41,700. Equipped with an optional technology package that adds lane departure warning, smart cruise control, an around-view camera system, and a few other bits along with destination ran the price to $45,095. If you want a V6, you’ll need to add about $1,600. The SX Limited does come with everything, but how many people would be willing to drop that much money on a Kia?

     

    The 2016 Sorento is a complete shock. Not only has Kia made a crossover that looks expensive, but they also made it feel expensive in terms of the interior and overall refinement. The value argument on the Limited models are quite hard to swallow and the 2.0L turbo needs a bit more work in terms of low-end performance. Hence is why I would recommend going for either EX or SX equipped with the V6. They both have that aspirational feel at a price that won’t make you faint.

     

    Cheers: Handsome exterior and interior, Smooth ride, Value for money on lower trims
    Jeers: Price of the Limited, Turbo Engine doesn't feel powerful, Fuel Economy

     

     

    Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Sorento, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

     

    Year: 2016
    Make: Kia
    Model: Sorento
    Trim: SX Limited
    Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged Direct-Injected Four-Cylinder
    Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 240 @ 6,000
    Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,450-3,500
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/25/22
    Curb Weight: 4,004 to 4,303 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: West Point, GA
    Base Price: $41,700
    As Tested Price: $45,095 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge)

     

    Options:
    SXL Technology Package - $2,500



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    Hmmm...  I own this very vehicle (same color and everything) and never noticed any turbo lag in my 2300 miles thus far.  I know some of this can be down to software tuning or bugs, so it may be worth checking out.  But this car pulls nicely from a dead stop.

     

    Secondly, most people aren't buying the Limited.  Mine was built in 3/15 and sat on the lot until 1/16 when I bought it.  That said, it's a poor man's RX350.  Also, this thing has had $3000k lease cash on its hood for quite some time, so that brings the price back down to earth.  Not everyone wants a Luxo brand vehicle.  We feel this car was a solid value for what it offers and didn't balk at the price at all vs the competition.  The Murano and Edge turbo are the main competitors to the Limited Turbo.  The Murano SL is a little cheaper and the Edge Titanium 2.0T about the same when both are equally equipped.  So within the competitive set, the pricing is not outlandish.  If you aren't a brand snob, the current car market is awesome.  

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    Nice write up, glad to see they are improving the auto so much. 

     

    Wonder if because this was a loaner for auto reporters if the car is not on an older version of software or if the car was just trashed on by other drivers so the turbo is confused?

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    I keep hearing the same thing about the Kia/Hyundai 2.0T engines! I experienced the first gen 2.0T in a '12 Optima and had similar experience. It revved up and made power like a...well like a slightly larger naturally aspirated 4-cylinder. I thought the new 2.0T would get fresh tuning and solve the power delivery issues, but apparently not.

     

    If I was buying this, it would need the V6 and a lighter colored interior because the one pictured looks stark and dreary.

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    It's pretty good product, I'd not get the 2.0T, I think the 3.3 is a must, but I wish they wouldn't force you to get a 3rd row to get the engine.

     

    I think many publications have iterated that the interior is very good for the class, and finally getting in one myself, I can attest to that.

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    Hmmm...  I own this very vehicle (same color and everything) and never noticed any turbo lag in my 2300 miles thus far.  I know some of this can be down to software tuning or bugs, so it may be worth checking out.  But this car pulls nicely from a dead stop.

     

    Secondly, most people aren't buying the Limited.  Mine was built in 3/15 and sat on the lot until 1/16 when I bought it.  That said, it's a poor man's RX350.  Also, this thing has had $3000k lease cash on its hood for quite some time, so that brings the price back down to earth.  Not everyone wants a Luxo brand vehicle.  We feel this car was a solid value for what it offers and didn't balk at the price at all vs the competition.  The Murano and Edge turbo are the main competitors to the Limited Turbo.  The Murano SL is a little cheaper and the Edge Titanium 2.0T about the same when both are equally equipped.  So within the competitive set, the pricing is not outlandish.  If you aren't a brand snob, the current car market is awesome.  

    I've noticed the advertised lease payments for these lately has appeared to be low.  I suppose then that is due to some good lease cash.

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