By Derek Price
The Kia Sorento has been on a tear. The 2015 Sorento was one of my favorite crossovers to drive recently, even though it was at the end of the current generation’s lifespan.
Believe it or not, there’s an all-new generation of Sorento hitting the market for 2016, and after driving it for a day, I suspect it’s going to be another home run for this South Korean brand.
The redesigned version has three big changes: size, capability and technology.
It’s 3 inches longer overall now, with a 3.1-inch longer wheelbase to help it ride more luxuriously. With its bigger dimensions, it now has more interior volume than the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Nissan Murano, making it feel almost like a full-size SUV on the inside.
Thanks to a new powertrain lineup, it can tow a whopping 43 percent more than the 2015 model. It can pull up to 5,000 pounds now, which is 1,500 more than the Ford Edge and more than twice as much as the Jeep Cherokee.
All that newfound capability comes from a revised version of its top-end engine, a 3.3-liter V6 that makes 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque.
A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is still available as the base engine, and Kia also adds a third choice in this new model: a 2.0-liter turbocharged four.
After driving several versions of the Sorento, the turbocharged engine was my favorite for its quick response, smooth power delivery and decent gas mileage rating of 27 mpg on the highway. It makes 240 horsepower, enough to make this roomy crossover feel nimble on highway on-ramps.
In fact, “nimble” is a surprisingly good way to describe the overall driving feel of the new Sorento. You’d think it might feel more truck-like with its increased tow ratings and bigger size, but it actually scoots around with the poise and precision of a smaller car. The steering, braking and shifts from its six-speed automatic all feel light, fast and clean.
My favorite thing about this redesign is the cabin. All the touch points have soft materials now, so it’s got a slight luxury ambiance even on the low-end models. Another nice touch is how Kia put carpet on the side walls of the rear cargo area so the back of the car won’t look so dinged up after a few years.
Two technologies also stood out on my test drive.
One is the Smart Power Liftgate. It will automatically open the cargo door if you stand behind the vehicle with the key fob in your pocket. That means you don’t have to press a button or wave your foot under the car to open the door while you’ve got bags of groceries in your arms.
The other is a premium audio system from Infinity that makes your digital music sound better. It has a feature called Clari-fi that attempts to restore the original, uncompressed sound of your digital files. It’s pretty cool.
Overall, Kia did an impressive job on this Sorento redesign for 2016. While I liked the 2015 model just fine, the jump up in size, quality, capability and features should make the new generation a hit.
At a Glance
What was tested?
2016 Kia Sorento SX-Limited V6 AWD ($43,100). Options: None. Price as tested (including $895 destination charge): $43,995
Wheelbase: 109.4 in.
Length: 187.4 in.
Width: 74.4 in.
Height: 66.5 in.
Engine: 3.3-liter V6 (290 horsepower, 252 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
2016 Kia Sorento
Why buy it?
It’s refined, capable and spacious with this all-new design. Its 5,000-pound tow rating and generous cargo space make it work like an SUV but drive more like a car.