The 2016 Kia Sorento SUV Is One Hot Mid-Size SUV!

What happens when you bring forty (or so) auto writers to Lake Tahoe to cover the launch of the 2016 Kia Sorento the day before a huge winter storm is predicted to roll in? It turns out that not only have you guaranteed that the SUV will have a chance to shine, you’ve also guaranteed a great time for all.

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A rare moment when it wasn’t raining or snowing at Lake Tahoe

Here are some facts you should know about this third generation, all-new iteration of Kia’s popular SUV:

• The Sorento (and Optima) are entirely built of globally sourced parts at Kia’s West Point, Georgia facility, which “is responsible for the creation of more than 14,000 plant and supplier jobs.”

• The 2016 Sorento is available with three different engines including a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, a 3.3-liter V6, and a 2.4-liter normally aspirated inline-4.

• There are five trim levels:  L, LX, EX, SX and SXL.

• The 2016 Sorento has a “109.4-inch wheelbase (up 3.1 inches) and overall width that’s broadened to 74.4 inches (increased by 0.2 inches), the Sorento’s packaging is more efficient and allows for greater interior room.”

• The 2016 Sorento comes with standard 40/20/40 second-row folding five-passenger (4-cylinder models) or 50/50 folding third-row seven-passenger (V6 models) seating configurations.

• All Sorento models come standard with active safety features such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), Brake Assist System (BAS), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), and Antilock Braking System (ABS).  Additional technologies such as Roll Over Mitigation (ROM) and Cornering Brake Control (CBC) on AWD models have also been added as standard equipment for improved dynamic control and safety.

• New available driver aid technology includes: Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS), Smart Cruise Control (SCC), Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Surround View Monitor (SVM).

• There are new UVO features being introduced with this model which include: Geo-fencing, Speed Alert, Curfew Alert and Driving Score.

• The 2016 Sorento is the first North American automobile to get Harman’s Clari-Fi technology.

• It will be available in January 2015

One of the most striking things about this Sorento is its aggressive and wide stance, which is similar to the front end on the 2015 Kia Sedona MPV I recently tested. At 109.4″, the 2016 Kia Sorento has a longer wheelbase and overall width than the previous model.

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Some more tidbits that came up during the press conference included:

• Pricing will start at $24,900 for the L model, and it will top out at $41,300 for the SXL-V6.

• Adding AWD adds $1800 to each model. [My thoughts on All Wheel Drive: if you live somewhere where it snows or the roads get nasty when it rains, do yourself a favor, suck it up, and get the AWD.]

Enough facts … it was time to drive!

We’d had predictions of 50 – 60mph winds with rain and then possibly up to 3′ of snow. Kia personnel were very reassuring that they would send a car in front of us and there would be a car behind us all to make sure that we all got back in one piece. Most of our course was lined in incredibly tall pine trees, and there was a worry that the winds would cause some to break and fall across the roads. Yikes! It turns out that this was no small threat — as this is exactly happened just outside our hotel room when the winds were really going while we were driving …

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The first thing I noticed as I got into our gray 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder Sorento was that it was plush … absolutely lovely.

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It was drizzling, cold, and pretty nasty already, so I didn’t get a chance to take a lot of interior pics, but these provided by Kia will give you a good idea of what were about to enjoy (our seats were burgundy, though).


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Not only were our seats heated and ventilated,  the driver’s seat had 14-way power and the passenger seat had 8-way power. When it was my turn to drive, I was impressed by the driver’s seat thigh extension; I’m 5’10”, and I prefer a nice deep seat. Our headrests were 4-way with one-button adjustment, and we enjoyed dual-zone HVAC. Our seats were premium Nappa leather trim, and the entire roof seemed to be taken up with Kia’s second-generation panoramic sunroof; I loved it.

The back of the 2016 Kia Sorento has a few tricks up its sleeve, too. The overall cargo volume has been increased from 72.5 cu.-ft. to 74 cu.-ft., and the cargo volume behind the 3rd row has been increased from 9.1 cu.-ft. to 11 cu.-ft.  There is an easy-folding lever which allows you to pick and choose from various seating and storage arrangements. The entire cargo area is lined in carpet to help keep items from shifting and keep it from getting scratched up.

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This was about the best our day looked while we were out driving; most of the time we were getting pounded by rain …

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… and eventually by snow.

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The thing is that the Sorento never slipped on the road — and we drove it as fast as 75mph or maybe a little faster. I come from an area of the country that doesn’t really freeze very often, and we rarely if ever have salt on the roads; the potholes and sections of unevenly repaired highway that we came upon on some of California’s and Nevada’s back highways that we took into Reno were a bit surprising to me, but the Kia Sorento handled them gracefully.


The 2016 Kia Sorento offers an advanced AWD system that “automatically routes power to the wheel with the most traction.  When conditions call for more sure-footed capability, the 4WD Lock Mode splits engine power evenly between the front and rear drive shafts. The system also provides drivers the added stability of Torque Vector Cornering Control (TVCC).  The TVCC system is activated when yaw and steering sensors detect unwanted understeer.”

We put nearly all of those capabilities to good use while driving in this muck Thursday, and I’ll say again that if you live somewhere with anything but perfect weather all of the time, do consider getting the AWD for added peace of mind.

The 2016 Kia Sorento feels tighter and even more solid than before; it’s comfortable to drive or ride in, and part of what makes it so much fun to drive is all of the technology that has been crammed inside the cockpit.

We got to drive vehicles equipped with the 8″ capacitive-touch color screen with a navigation system that “features SD card storage for MAP DATA and USB 2.0 support for high-speed updates as well as integrated rear backup camera, Bluetooth hands-free support, and UVO voice recognition. A 4.3-inch TFT color touch screen is standard and incorporates Bluetooth, and UVO voice recognition capability.” This is one time where I think it is worth it to go ahead and spring for the larger and more featured system.

We also had a chance to fiddle with the optional “630-watt, 12-speaker Infinity stereo system with an 11-channel amplifier.” This is the first North American vehicle to use Harman’s Clari-Fi technology, which “works in real-time to rebuild audio details lost in digitally compressed music via an algorithm that intelligently and seamlessly reconstructs the material to restore to the listening experience, regardless of the source.  With Clari-Fi, music sounds cleaner, crisper, wider and more dynamic.”

For the 2016 Kia Sorento, there are four new UVO eServices available which include: Geo-fencing, Speed Alert, Curfew Alert and Driving Score. Kia is also introducing an app store, where select apps can be downloaded for free from iTunes or Google Play.  “The Kia app connector is now available for partnership with the content community for downloading apps such as Yelp, while Soundhound, Pandora, and iHeart Radio (late availability) come preloaded.”  The new UVO system also includes “Siri “Eyes Free and Local Search – powered by Google – for finding locations, addresses and points of interest.  Sirius XM Travel Link, offers access to traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports scores, stock information and movie times.”

These are pictures of the 3.3-liter V6 Sorento that we also drive. To be honest, I felt like the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and the V6 had comparable power, although the gray turbocharged four-cylindar definitely had the better technology package.

So let’s talk about pricing for a moment. The Remington Red exterior with Dark Gray interior Sorento SX V6 AWD drive that we tested will have a base MSRP of $39,700. Seven seats and a cargo space worth of carpeted floor mats along with destination charges brought its total price to $40,820 before any dealer incentives or discounts.

The Titanium Gray exterior with burgundy Nappa leather interior Sorento SXL 2.0 Turbo AWD that we tested will have a base price of $41,700. Adding the $2500 tech package which includes electronic parking brake, advanced smart cruise control, HID headlights (which are really cool to look at), a Surround View Monitor, Lane Departure Warning System, and Forward Collision Warning System along with carpeted floor mats for five seats, a carpeted cargo mat, and destination charges brought the total to $45,305.

We didn’t drive the Snow White Pearl with white Nappa leather interior SXL 3.3 V6AWD, but for comparison’s sake — it has a base price of $43,100, which includes seating for 7 rather than just five, the $2500 tech package, carpeted mats for the 7 seats and cargo area, and destination charges bringing its total to $46, 720.

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Bear in mind that all of these cars come with Kia’s fab 10-year/100,000-mile warranty program, which consists of:

• 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty
• 5-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty
• 5-year/100,000-mile limited anti-perforation warranty
• 5-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan

Here are some of the things that we saw, ate, and experienced during our drive and back at the Lake Tahoe Ritz Carlton. (Click a circle to start the slide show)

The big highlight of our time in Lake Tahoe, beyond driving the 2016 Kia Sorento of course, was the Ugly Christmas Sweater competition most of the drivers participated in on our last evening. My entry was a hideous frog and ornament covered thing I had found on eBay for cheap; I sewed three strands of battery-powered LED lights on it, and hoped for the best.

While at the party I got to hold two amazing birds of prey; Hoot the owl and a falcon!

Here’s are all the drivers who wore ugly sweaters. By the way, there were three first prize winners, and I was one of them! Hooray! 😉


Never let it be said that auto-writers don’t know how to have a good time.

So let’s get back on track for a moment. You may remember that I thought the 2014 Sorento was a fantastic SUV. After driving one, I had this to say about it:

The Kia Sorento is made in the USA at a plant that employs Americans who live in an economically stressed area. The Sorento has every amenity I could want and then some, and the tech it incorporates is awesome.  If I had to make a short list of vehicles that I would consider when our Denali is ready for replacement, the 2014 Kia Sorento would definitely be on there.

When it came time for my mother to get a new vehicle this year — knowing that she prefers SUVs with AWD — I recommended the 2015 Sorento LX V6 with AWD to her, and that is exactly what she got. I can’t help but admit that I was a little bit jealous about her new acquisition, but after driving the 2016 Kia Sorento this week, I’m glad I waited. Once they are available in January, I plan on buying one … I like it that much.


Disclosure: Kia paid for my travel, room, and meals; there were no conditions or expectations made regarding what I chose to write about with regard to my experience.

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.