Friday, May 29, 2015

2016 Kia Sorento impresses on multiple levels

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­One of the great things about the auto biz is that you can periodically get a glimpse of the future just by showing up.

Take the recently tested 2016 Kia Sorento SX-L V6 AWD sport-utility vehicle.  It represents an early jump on the 2016 model year, and after a week in this SUV, I’m convinced that it might be the luxury sport-ute of the future.

This was a super-loaded, structurally imposing, luxurious and smart-handling vehicle that might well have been wearing a $50,000 starting-price sticker.  The actual starting price, still the most expensive among all the available trim levels, rings in at a still-robust $43,100.

Is this the future of the luxo SUV segment: Give them everything, and a discount on the price to boot?  It is if you’re shopping Kia, I suppose.

Granted, $43,100 to start is still pretty rich, but the time I spent in the Sorento told me the investment would be well worth it for a buyer looking for a family- and cargo-hauling vehicle for the long term.  Going to be taking some lengthy road-trip vacations with the family over the next seven years or so?  This Sorento should be on your ponder list.

The tester was equipped with a 3.3-liter V-6 engine rated at nearly 300 horsepower.  It did everything pretty well.  However, putting the vehicle in “ECO” mode requires a serious application of your right foot to get the thing going.  Saving fuel has its trade-offs, right?

I was impressed with the Sorento’s rock-solid stability in freeway commuter traffic and on twisty suburban roads.  Hard corners produced nary a wiggle, and the degree of interior cabin quiet was remarkable in all situations.

Not surprisingly, fuel economy was not so great at 17 miles per gallon in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.  Remember, this vehicle tops 4,000 pounds and can carry up to seven passengers.

A power bonus: A towing capacity of 5,000 with the all-wheel drive package.  Nice.

Overall, this Sorento is a big brute with a comfortable, highly sophisticated interior – I found the audio output to be top-notch – and highly refined road manners.

Little wonder that Kia touted the new Sorento at a Lake Tahoe setting.  It’s arguably the perfect vehicle for that alpine locale…comfortable to wheel around the lake’s loop road and rugged enough to venture off the paved path when needed.

I give this early 2016 arrival a solid “B-plus” to “A-minus” grade.  It’s truly worth a test drive for those shopping for an SUV with some serious substance.

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