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SNOW DRIVING WITH KIA’S 2016 SORENTOPosted On December 6, 2017
MONT TREMBLANT, Que. — Enough already with winter.
A two-day escape from the ravages of Nova Scotia winter was not a sun- and sand-filled affair.
Instead, I found myself in a frigid, albeit sunny, temperature of minus 26 degrees Celsius at the foot of the Laurentiens’ pride and joy, Mont Tremblant.
Kia Canada chose this iconic Quebec locale to present their all-new 2016 Kia Sorento precisely for these conditions: cold temperatures, snow-covered roads and, of course, the family atmosphere screeching down the sunny slopes on skis and snowboards.
People- and cargo-carrying ‘oomph’ is a big part of the allure of the 2016 Kia Sorento.
The five- or seven-passenger Sorento is Kia’s second best-selling vehicle, next to the Rio, therefore the launch of the third generation of this popular utility vehicle is an important one.
The all-new Sorento has some major changes from the 2015 version. In the sport-utility segment, size does matter.
The 2016 Sorento is 75 millimetres longer and five millimetres wider than its predecessor.
It has improved cargo space and functionality (third row seats fold almost completely flat).
It’s also not as tall, giving it a more sporty stance.
The 2016 Sorento looks more rugged. The quad LED fog lamps, dual projector headlamps and stainless steel bumper plates help the top-trim SX version stand out on the road.
All trim levels get a new large contoured spoiler, chrome surround and door handles and gloss black pillars between the side windows. These new exterior features, along with the ‘tiger nose’ and distinctive inverted honeycomb grill, make you wonder: What is that handsome Kia?
Time to go play in the snow.
The ride and drivability of the Sorento is improved due to its increased torsional rigidity.
Fifty-three per cent of the body structure, compared to twenty-four per cent in the previous generation Sorento, is now constructed from Ultra High Strength steel.
Kia’s parent company, Hyundai Motor Group, is the only automotive manufacturer that produces its own steel.
The 3.3-litre V6 GDI engine, available in the seven-passenger Sorento, starting at the LX+ trim level, is not new but it has been significantly enhanced from 2015.
The 290-horsepower engine with 252 lb-ft of torque, combined with the strengthened chassis of the vehicle, can tow 43 per cent more weight than the 2015 Sorento (5,000 pounds or 2270 kilograms).
The new under-the-hood star of the Sorento show is the 2.0-litre powerplant.
Available in all the five-passenger trim levels except the base LX, this new turbocharged four-cylinder engine, mated to Kia’s six-speed automatic transmission, produces 240 horsepower.
The 260 lb-ft of torque means it can haul 3,500 pounds (1,587 kg). Fuel efficiency ratings for the new engine are 11.7/8.6 for the front-wheel drive and 12.3/9.3 for the AWD version.
This engine proved fun, nimble even, not a word I would often use to describe any aspect of a sport utility vehicle.
Because of its size and range of trim levels and engine options, the 2016 Sorento enjoys a unique position in the market, straddling the line between crossover and intermediate sport utility vehicles.
The sheer variety of combinations and permutations allows the Sorento to take on an array of competitors like the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and XL, the Toyota Rav4 and Highlander, the Ford Escape and Edge and both the Nissan Rogue and the larger Murano.
The base five-passenger LX trim with front-wheel drive (FWD) and 2.4-litre GDI engine (not available to test at Mont-Tremblant) is $27,495. Add $2,000 for AWD. Add two seats and swap in the 3.3-litre V6. Now you’re up to $33,895.
The five-passenger LX with the new 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo comes in just under $33,000. Mid-level EX trim ranges from $35,595 to $37,895. The five-passenger SX with 2.0-litre turbo is priced at $42,095.
The top of the line 2016 Kia Sorento is the seven-passenger AWD SX. The $46,695 will buy you so many bells and whistles, your head will spin and your ears will ring.
I drove many versions of the Sorento. Durable black cloth seats in the LX trims are almost as comfy as the leather seats of the EX. Of course, the SX offers perforated premium Nappa leather, an extendable leg cushion (love this!) and adjustable headrest.
Stand behind the 2016 Sorento SX, key fob in pocket, and the liftgate ‘magically’ opens. No dancing around on one foot. Smart!
Soft-touch interior materials and advancements in design and technology, like the acoustic laminated windshield and added insulation between the body panels, have enriched the Sorento’s cabin refinement and quietness.
What’s it really like in the rear of the seven-passenger 2016 Sorento? It’s not too ‘cagey’ thanks to added leg and shoulder room and vastly improved access.
Great for kids and smaller adults but, as with most third-row vehicles, I’d still rather ride shotgun.
I liked the surefootedness of the 2016 Sorento with both front- and all-wheel drive systems. Under the shadow of the north face of Mont Tremblant, roads snake, curve and climb.
In the Sorento, I had no hesitation on those snow-covered roads where guard rails are few.
Although winter is taking its sweet ol’ snowy time getting out of our hair and tire treads, the 2016 Kia Sorento, with its myriad trim levels and engine options, does a safe, spacious, comfortable and refined job of moving around families fully embracing sub-zero Canada.