Kia Sorento: Moving On Up

Kia continues its quest to become one of the more respected vehicle manufacturers in the world, and the Sorento is evidence that it may have succeeded. Indeed, the independent Consumer Reports lists Kia as one of the top ten car brands, placing it ahead of such stalwarts as BMW and Lincoln. Consumer Reports said, “Kia delivers competent cars sold for less than the leaders in their respective segments.”  We couldn’t agree more, but beware that a loaded Kia Sorento can cost nearly as much as a Lexus NX, although the base price is closer to a RAV 4.

The new Sorento has a host of features with improved handling and a more refined interior. Gas mileage isn’t great because the four-cylinder engine is always working hard to keep the 1,500-plus kilo SUV on task, even with the six-speed automatic silently doing its best. The 18.2 fuel tank makes five hour treks possible without stopping, and the Kia’s comfortable seats and relaxed ride make that an achievable goal.

The Sorento is a good dual-purpose vehicle that can travel most anywhere in style with a quiet ride, roomy interior, and ample acceleration. We like the Nissan Murano and Toyota Highlander as competitors, but neither has the range of options, although the Nissan is more nimble and the Toyota larger. We especially like the many unique features of this Kia such as a hatch that opens automatically when it senses you waiting, and, the side mirrors that open and close automatically. There is also a myriad of safety features.

Mom’s view: The Sorento shines most in its interior and features. Upscale materials abound, and there is ample cargo room with an optional third row of seats. The front passengers have excellent positioning, and the seats have optional heating and cooling. We found the Sorento’s cooling seats the best we have tested, and the air conditioning was able to hold its own with temperatures over 100 degrees even though our test vehicle had the huge panoramic roof. I love the contrasting look of the interior materials. The Sorento has the appearance of a much more expensive vehicle. Standard features include Bluetooth, a USB port and satellite radio. We insist you check out the available rearview camera with the 360-degree camera system, adaptive cruise control, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic monitoring, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, that add to your family’s safety. Our loaded test vehicle’s GPS was easy to use with a very large touch screen. Other features were a 10-speaker Infinity surround-sound audio system and Kia’s UVO infotainment system. Overall, an interesting vehicle that will surprise you. Don’t forget to see the automatic liftgate in action. Best mall shopping option ever.

Dad’s view: Sorento’s new 2.0-liter turbocharged four produces 240 horsepower and is very frisky making freeway merging easy, but the engine is a bit gruff when pushed. Other Sorento choices are the base 185 horsepower 2.4-liter and the 3.3-liter V-6, making 290 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque and is best for towing. You can order all-wheel drive with any engine, and that option features torque vectoring between front and rear wheels for stability. Brakes and steering feel are adequate, but the ride was too soft for my taste. It was tuned more for comfort. A while back Kia’s driving dynamics weren’t ready for prime time, but now they are and the result is an even-handed SUV. You can switch drive modes that change the steering weighting and transmission shift points, but what most people are going to do is just appreciate how quiet this rig is and how obedient.

Young working woman’s view: I don’t care for SUVs, but this might be an exception. Previous models were not as large and a bit dreary inside. The new one is much improved with more interior room and a more modern appearance. I would never think this was a Kia from the interior appearance. Wow! The materials are nicely coordinated and have a good feel to them. The safety features let you know whether there are cars in your blind spot or, in a parking lot, coming down the lane. There are even arrows to tell you which direction they are coming. The Sorento also offered forward collision warning, smart cruise control and a surround view parking monitor. The Kia makes you feel safe and the optional Nappa leather interior surfaces make you feel snug. Very reassuring.

Young male’s view: Adaptive cruise control, an all-around-view camera, and Siri Eyes Free for the iPhone are all part of the Sorento’s offerings, and a plethora of other high-tech options enables this Kia to challenge the big boys. However, its bland looks, despite the sleeker headlights, makes it far too generic for my tastes. On the plus side the key fob has a distinct button for locking that is very useful, and the front and rear doors open wide making entry and exit easy. A comforting vehicle.

Family conference: From the Smart Liftgate to the numerous options and the great warranty, the Sorento is a versatile family vehicle. However, the many options can raise the price nearly $20,000 so do your homework. The result is a vehicle that you can drive with the satisfaction of advanced satiety features and a relaxed ride that are reassuring. No question about it, the Sorento is moving on up.

For more reviews go to Car Family Car Reviews

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