Reviews

2016 Kia Sorento Walk Around

The 2016 Sorento gets a new look that Kia says was inspired by the Cross GT concept that debuted at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show. That concept vehicle was far more aggressive than the Sorento, and the new look is really just an evolution of the outgoing model. That’s not to say it’s not better looking because it is. The grille is larger and more pronounced, additional chrome trim is tastefully applied, and the overall look is more modern and stylish.

Depending on the model, buyers get 17-, 18- or 19-inch wheels, and alloy wheels are standard on all models. LED fog lights are standard, and the taillights use LEDs, too. Roof rails come on all but the base model.

The new Sorento is larger, too. The wheelbase is 3.1 inches longer and total length grows by three inches. The vehicle sits a half inch lower and the floor drops by two inches.

Interior Impressions

The main benefit of the Sorento’s larger dimensions is increased interior space. Cargo capacity grows from 72.5 to 74 cubic feet in five-passenger versions with the second-row seats folded flat, and space behind the available third row increases from 9.1 to 11 cubic feet. That gives the Sorento as much or more space than the competition.

Unlike most competitors, however, the Sorento offers an optional third-row seat. While the increased space gives first- and second-row occupants plenty of room, it does little for the third row. It’s best to think of the third row as emergency seating for kids. Yes, a pair of adults can fit back there, but they will be chewing on their knees with their heads stuck against the headlliner, and getting back there requires climbing over a second-row seat that doesn’t slide far enough forward. If you’re looking for a true 7-passenger crossover, it’s best to look at one of the larger crossovers such as the Dodge Durango, Chevrolet Traverse, or Toyota Highlander.

You won’t want to look for an alternative when you see the quality of the Sorento’s cabin. The interior environment is decidedly upscale, with soft-touch surfaces on the dash, door panels, and armrests. Kia provides nice little touches like lighting around the USB port and metal-trimmed controls. The dash is a large black expanse without much design to it, but the shape of the grille is reflected in a surround that encompasses the dashboard touchscreen and a pair of vents.

The touchscreen houses Kia’s UVO infotainment system. It features an 8-inch screen surrounded by several buttons that can be used to go to the various types of command trees, including navigation, phone, vehicle information, radio and other types of media. Owners can access apps on their smartphones through the system, including Yelp, Soundhound, Pandora, and iHeartRadio, and it serves as the home for Sirius XM satellite services that include real-time traffic, weather, sports scores, stock quotes, fuel prices, and movie times.

But that’s not all. UVO offers eServices, which consist of geo-fencing, speed alerts, curfew alerts, and a driving score. Finally, it comes with Siri Eyes Free and Google local search. This allows drivers to search for addresses and points of interest using voice commands to their connected iPhones and the results pop up on the center screen.

With all that technology, UVO is at the forefront of infotainment technology, and we found it works pretty well, too. The buttons along the perimeter make it easy to understand, and the system reacts quickly to inputs. Of course, all this information can be a distraction, so be sure to keep your eyes on the road.

In addition to the center screen, higher end models also get a 7-inch screen in the instrument cluster to show trip computer, navigation directions, speed, radio station, and other types of information. We were annoyed that this screen also flashed a notice to tell us we had turned on or off the windshield wipers.

Higher end models also offer several other features not expected in this class, such as a 14-way power adjustable driver’s seat, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a 630-watt Infinity audio system with Clari-Fi technology. Clari-Fi uses an algorithm to rebuild audio details lost in digitally compressed music. In our limited exposure, it sounds quite good.

Interior

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