When Kia took their top-line Sorento crossover SUV upscale with new styling, improved interiors, new technical toys and more safety. The 2017 Kia Sorento SXL V6 AWD we tested showcased all that which is new and good.
To styling, the Sorento was all-new in 2016 and remains fresh in style with avante garde details and forms executed in a way that isn’t over the top. Details like satin chrome trims on the exterior, body color lower cladding, and Xenon light-bending headlights all feel right at home in on this premium SUV.
And premium it is. At $46,990 our fully outfitted Sorento tips the scales the same as many premium brands but as we found matches them toe to toe when it comes to delivered expectations.
Inside you’ll find rich heated and ventilated power leather chairs up front. Even the second row passengers get their buns warmed. The dash and door panels are lined with top quality materials and design panache you might expect from Germany.
This is followed up with the feel and quality of switchgear that also feels its price. It’s not all glitz though as the comfortable interior also offers boundless storage from a front cubby for your phone to a center console bin that can swallow up four or five bottles of water easily.
Rear seat passengers enjoy plenty of space in both the second and third rows, the second row offering sliding and back rake adjustments. The seats fold down, 50/50 for the third row and 40/20/40 for the second row for a perfectly flat load floor.
From behind the wheel using the UVO touchscreen infotainment system is a joy. Graphics and menus are simple, the screen banked by hard buttons and controls like a volume and tuning knob. This allows most simple tasks to avoid menu games. The Infinity audio is also quite good, though the satellite radio does have notably lower quality.
On the road its 290 horsepower 3.3 liter V6 proved powerful enough, though does need to be prodded to deliver. Its 252 pound-feet torque rating and 6-speed automatic transmission aren’t as competitive as other class V6 engines now and could benefit from the addition of a few more gears. Both the engine and transmission are very much refined and pleasing to use.
Rated at 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined, pleasing was its real world performance we observed at 23 mpg combined. This was a mix of both city and highway driving and we didn’t try that hard to get there.
On the road the Sorento is solid and quiet in ride with a very supple feel when it comes to handling around town and on curvy roads. This is to say it’s very German in its feel of refinement and solidity. Spring rates are mild but damping tight so you get a comfortable ride that can also serve up some confidence on curves.
Off the pavement the refinement didn’t falter. In our desert wash-board roads the 19-inch wheels that look nice and big didn’t make us pay a price in harshness. The rubber isolated suspension sub-frames did a great job of keeping the harshness away from the cabin.
Going further into the desert trails, we found a crossover SUV that was very maneuverable with a good amount of suspension travel so that it would not bottom over dips and ruts. It felt just as at home out here as on the pavement.
With so many competitors from Honda, Toyota, Ford and even partner Hyundai, the Kia Sorento manages to sell 6,000-7,000 units a month. We feel it offers a level of quality that rivals a few, a refinement and driving character top of class.
We like it so much it makes our TestDrivenTV “Id Buy It” list for 2017. It’s that good.