• 2016,Kia,Sorento
  • 2016,Kia Sorento

Road Test: 2016 Kia Sorento Limited AWD

Kia’s Feature-loaded Midsize CUV

The all-new and completely redesigned 2016 Kia Sorento fits nicely, size-wise, between a compact CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle) like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and a midsize SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) such as the Toyota Highlander or Jeep Grand Cherokee. Price wise, when considering the standard and optional equipment, the Sorento is very attractive for cost-conscious consumers that also want a nicely equipped CUV that can seat five or seven.


The 2016 Kia Sorento comes in either FWD or AWD with three engine choices—a 2.4L non-turbo four-cylinder, a 3.3L non-turbo six-cylinder or what was powering Clean Fleet Report’s test car,


Style in an SUV–what a concept

the new-for-2016 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder DOHC engine with direct electronic fuel injection. Our 2.0L turbo All Wheel Drive Sorento, running on unleaded regular, put-out 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque through Kia’s electronically-controlled six-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic shifting. This drivetrain combination is EPA rated at 21 City / 26 Highway / 23 Combined, and in 874 miles of 75-percent highway /25-percent city driving we averaged 25.4 mpg. The 2.0L turbo is actually quite peppy and, with a peak torque kicking-in at a low 1,450 rpm, highway onramps and passing big rigs is a breeze. The 2.4L turns in an EPA rated 29 mpg Highway, which based on our experience with this model, would probably deliver more than 30 mpg in real world highway driving.

Driving Experience: On the Road

The Kia Sorento’s 3,840 lbs. were well-suited to its length, width and height. Some CUVs and SUVs can get top heavy, especially while cornering, but this was not the case with the Sorento. The weight distribution on our full-time AWD Sorento was easy to maneuver thanks to the column-mounted, motor-driven power steering, the Michelin Premier LTX 235/55R19 all-season tires on 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and its independent front and rear suspension with stabilizer bars and dual-damper shock absorbers. The 2.0L turbo has a tow rating of 3,500 lbs. If you step-up to the V-6, the Sorento is rated to tow up to 5,000 lbs.

2016 Kia,Sorento,turbocharged,mpg

Power for the highway

Many cars are now equipped with eight- and nine-speed automatic transmissions, but the Kia Sorento’s six-speed transmission was completely sufficient with smooth shifts and no hunting for the correct gear. To get the most performance from the engine you have choices of ECO, Comfort and Sport settings. ECO will be used on long stretches of road to squeeze-out every last drop of fuel; Sport holds the transmission in each rev band a bit longer. But have no misconceptions – the Kia Sorento is not a sporty vehicle to drive and to Kia’s credit, even though there is a Sport transmission setting, they do not advertise the Sorento as being sporty. Comfort (AKA Normal) was the around town choice, but once on the highway, ECO was the way to go.

Clean Fleet Report’s 2016 Kia Sorento had solid and consistent stops with a power-assisted braking system consisting of vented front and rear discs, an anti-lock brake system (ABS) and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD, which adjusts brake proportioning to compensate for added weight from passengers or cargo, and even adjusts as fuel is consumed).

Driving Experience: Exterior

Kia uses words like “passionately designed” and “obsessively crafted” when describing their designer’s vision for the 2016 Sorento. To be “all-new” from the previous version, Kia looked for

2016,Kia Sorento,styling,mpg

Style down to the shoes

inspiration from their Cross GT Concept Vehicle that was shown at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show. From this concept, the 2016 Sorento design carried-through a more rugged yet refined look and stance. The most recognizable part of the Sorento is its sloping hood leading into the upright but right-sized honeycomb grill with narrow headlights that have a swept back look. In the front end fascia is an aggressive air intake opening with quad LED fog lamps. I felt that the Xenon HID headlights on the Kia Sorento were the best of any car I have tested, providing for a wide, bright almost daylight-like vision.

Design-wise, Kia did a very good job carving-out a vehicle that stands out in its class, with an aggressive stance from the 19-inch wheels, sloping windshield leading to a roof featuring a panoramic power tilt-and-slide sunroof, chrome roof rails and ending with an integrated spoiler over the smart “Hands Free” power liftgate. The lack of cladding or other unnecessary trim pieces only add to a look of sophistication, lending to a premium feel.

Driving Experience: Interior

2016 Kia Sorento,interior,styling

Class up works for us

I was immediately impressed with what Kia calls the Sorento’s “Class-up” interior, starting with the whopping 14-way power driver seat (including four power lumbar adjustments) and eight-way power adjustable front passenger seat. Both are leather-trimmed, heated and ventilated, with the driver seat also having memory. With this many settings, it was easy finding a comfortable driving position, which was aided by the tilt-and-telescopr steering column.

Sorento models with the four-cylinder engines have seating for five adults, with a seven-passenger option when ordering the six-cylinder engine. Our Sorento sat five adults comfortably with the outbound rear leather-trimmed seats being heated. There was ample storage space behind the rear seat, but when the 40/20/40 split-folding seat was in the full down position, the storage space could handle pretty much whatever you like. Additional nice touches are the underfloor cargo storage beneath the second row of seats and the rear A/C controls.

Up front, the soft-touch material dash has a simple layout, starting with the deep-set analog tachometer and speedometer gauges, which are easy to read

2016,Kia Sorento,technology

Tech inbedded and at arm’s length

with white lettering on a black background. Operating the sound system was easy and met Clean Fleet Report’s minimum requirement for a driver-friendly system as it had knobs for the channel and volume functions. Our Sorento came with the eight-inch HD color display panel with a capacitive touch screen with navigation and Kia’s wonderful Around View Monitor.

The powerful and great-sounding Infinity surround-sound high-definition audio system, with ClariFi, came with an external amplifier, subwoofer and 10 speakers. Sirius Satellite Radio is included (three-month trial subscription) as is the AM/FM/CD/MP3 radio, rapid charge USB ports with iPod connectivity, Aux-in jacks and Bluetooth streaming audio with voice recognition. The UVO Services Telematics includes the color rear camera display and apps such as Yelp, Soundhound, Pandora and iHeart radio as well as features such as Siri Eyes and Local Search by Google.

Adding to the interior comfort and convenience was a power panoramic moonroof with power sun shade, leather-wrapped shift knob, wood-grained and leather-wrapped heated steering wheel with audio controls, one-touch driver seat headrest, remote keyless entry with Smart Key and push button start, dual zone automatic climate control, power windows with one-touch up/down, power door locks, power heated outside mirrors with turn indicators, carpeted floor mats, auto dimming rearview mirror with compass and Homelink, outside temperature display, map lights and rear map pockets, multiple beverage holders, 12-volt accessory outlets and a 110V power inverter.

Safety and Convenience

2016,Kia,Sorento,cargo space

Room for–what do you have?

The 2016 Kia Sorento comes with safety and convenience features including eight air bags, lane departure warning (LDWS), rollover sensor, blind spot detection, back-up warning, rear cross traffic alert (RCTA), forward collision warning (FCW), Around View Monitor (AVM), tire pressure level monitor, advanced smart cruise control (ASCC), electronic stability control (ESC), traction control system (TCS), hill start assist (HAC), Torque Vectoring Cornering Control, four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), Xenon HID headlights, LED fog lights, a vehicle security system (VSS) and anti-theft vehicle immobilizer.

The 2016 Kia Sorento has earned a US Government National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score, where 5 Stars is the highest safety rating.


Clean Fleet Report’s 2016 Kia Sorento Limited AWD had a MRSP of $44,200, which included the SXL Technology Package. 2016 Sorento pricing starts at $24,900 with packages and options affecting your final price. All prices exclude the $895 Destination Charge.


The 2016 Kia Sorento comes with these warranties:

  • Basic Five-year/60,000-mile
  • Powertrain 10-year/100,000-mile
  • Roadside Assistance Five-year/60,000-mile
  • Anti-Perforation Five-year/60,000-mile

Observations: 2016 Kia Sorento Limited AWD

The 2016 Kia Sorento offers clean, contemporary styling, a comfortable interior with convenient and desirable seating and storage flexibility, which includes the five-passenger or seven-passenger

2016 Kia,Sorento,SUV,CUV

Ready to ride-work-play

option. Having choices of front-wheel and all-wheel drive is a selling point for Kia as it means everyone looking for a mid-size CUV could be their customer.

My overall impression of the 2016 Kia Sorento is that its size, falling between a small and large SUV, offers benefits of parking and handling as well as the seating flexibility. The Sorento’s high safety rating is also a plus when driving any tall vehicle.

The 2016 Kia Sorento should be on your CUV/SUV shopping list when visiting dealers.

Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!

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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle, which does not address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology, during which we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements. Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class or are among the top mpg vehicles on the market. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

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About Author: John Faulkner

John Faulkner is an automotive marketing professional with more than 30 years experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent's 1950 Studebaker. He has a keen appreciation of Art Deco design, no bias for domestic versus foreign makes and loves competition - whether that be F1, IndyCar, Sports Cars, NASCAR or participating in Track Days at places such as Laguna Seca, Thunderhill or Willow Springs. John lives in Dana Point, CA, and enjoys a top-down drive on PCH on an early Sunday morning.

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