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2019 Kia Sorento SXL V6 AWD – Could This Kia SUV Be Too Nice?

2019 Kia Sorento SXL V6 AWD – Could This Kia SUV Be Too Nice?

It’s no secret that Kia has stepped up their game where quality and comfort are concerned. And with six trim levels to choose from, it’s likely there’s a version of this midsized, three-row, seven seater for nearly any budget. So, how does this top of the heap Sorento SXL measure up in such a competitive segment?

EXTERIOR

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From the outside, the Sorento looks good. It’s conservative and well-proportioned. The chunky hood lends an air of gravity to the front end and makes the car look slightly nose heavy and even minivan-ish from some angles. The B and C pillars are blacked out to give the illusion of one large window along the side of the vehicle. It’s nice to see that KIA’s design team hasn’t gone with some iteration of the floating roofline that’s so popular today.

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19″ chrome wheels don’t look oversized on this car thanks to the high window sills. The back of this car looks especially well thought out. The transition between the quarter panels and the rear hatch’s curved glass is a smooth one. Oversized tail lights bookend a relief in the “hands free” liftgate that looks like it could have been borrowed from a Lexus. The clever liftgate opens automatically after three seconds if you stand next to it.

INTERIOR

2019 KIA SORENTO SXL INTERIOR TERRACOTTA

Inside, the Sorento is clean and classy. The heated and cooled front seats are trimmed in Terracotta colored Nappa leather. They are as comfortable as they are handsome. The console and controls are logically arranged and there’s an eight inch touchscreen in the dash. The touchscreen is a display for everything from the Harman Kardon stereo, to the navigation and surround view monitors.

The SXL’s navigation interface is easier to use than many of the systems in other vehicles. Apple Carplay and Android Auto come standard on all Sorentos. Bluetooth connectivity and multiple charging ports make it convenient to stay plugged in.

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The second row seating is spacious enough for adults and is car seat capable. It’s probably safe to assume most Sorentos will see service hauling kiddos. It’s nice to know there’s room for them and all their kiddo accessories too. If a road trip is on the agenda, the panoramic sunroof makes seeing the sites even easier.

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As is the case with many mid-sized SUVs, the third row seating is cramped. It should be reserved for little ones and adults who are adept at yoga. There are airconditioning controls available to third row passengers so they’re not crowded and hot. The second and third rows fold flat to create an open cargo space.

KIA SORENTO INTERIOR

THE DRIVE

The Sorento SXL has a 290 hp 3.3 liter V6 mated to an eight-speed automatic that will scoot the car to sixty in about seven and a half seconds. The transmission is not as crisp as the offerings from other brands. For nearly 300 horsepower I expected a little more when I flat-foot the accelerator.

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Steering feel is good and the ride is smooth. There is noticeable body roll in the curves, but it’s not out of hand and it can be forgiven because this is an SUV after all.  The ride is a little noisy for a vehicle in the SXL’s price range. And the power delivery is a little coarse and underwhelming from the V6 and it only gets 24 miles per gallon on the highway.

THE DIRT

This car with these options will set buyers back $47,480. That’s comparable to other similarly optioned SUVs in its class. However, lackluster fuel economy and somewhat grainy driving characteristics make it a questionable value at this trim level. That said, should anything go wrong with it, Kia’s 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty can’t be overlooked.

The base model Sorento L starts at $26,000. It has a more efficient engine, Apple Carplay, third-row seating and the great warranty. This could be the better value. Relative to previous Kias, this marks a level of comfort and sophistication that many would have doubted Kia would obtain.

In such a competitive segment the Kia Sorento can’t just be a good Kia, it must be good value too. When optioned up the way this one is, it feels like it’s a little too closely priced to the competition for what it delivers.

2019 KIA SORENTO EXTERIOR REAR

 

 

2017 Kia Sorento – A Clever, Configurable Crossover

2017 Kia Sorento – A Clever, Configurable Crossover

The Sorento is a flexible mid-sized crossover from Kia. It’s flexible in that it can be configured with a range of engines and either five or seven passenger trim levels. Depending on what a customer wants, they can choose a cloth seated, fuel saving kid hauler, or a dolled up, leather upholstered luxury SUV.

The press car’s black leather interior looks and feels like quality. The front seats are well bolstered and are both heated and cooled. An eight inch UVO touch screen in the middle of the dash relays information about the navigation and Infinity sound system. Apple Carplay and Android Auto make connecting with your phone a breeze. I especially like the surround view monitor that gives drivers a bird’s eye perspective of the car when backing up and parking.

The second row seating has room for adults and the third row has surprisingly good head and leg room. A panoramic sunroof really brightens up the interior and affords passengers a nice view of the sky above. Power ports are tucked away all over the cabin, including a 110 volt inverter. Depending on what trim package customers choose, this car can be configured for five or seven passengers. The SXL I tested had the 50/50 split rear bench.

From the outside the Sorento looks good. The HID headlights sweep up and back from Kia’s corporate grill (which reminds me of beaver teeth). The arching side windows are reminiscent of the Honda CRV. And the rear liftgate has an uncluttered design. The bottom of the opening does seem a bit high off the ground. The press car was equipped with fog lights at additional cost. If I were buying a Sorento this is an option I would skip. They look like an afterthought. 19″ chrome alloy wheels fill the wheel arches admirably and lend an aesthetic of quality.

Power from the 290 horse, 3.3 liter V6 is sent to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. A locking center differential will come in handy to get out of slippery situations. Autonomous braking offers the piece of mind that the car is watching out even if the driver gets distracted. There’s also lane departure warning and smart cruise control. At night the headlights turn with the wheel. I never tired of watching the lights scan around a turn.

The steering feels artificially light and offers limited feedback, otherwise the brakes and accelerator felt fine. The ride is comfortable and quiet. Surprisingly, the AWD model is rated to tow 5,000 pounds.

Prices for the Sorento start at 25k which still gets you a handful of nice features and a fuel sipping four cylinder. The SXL model with all the bells and whistles will set you back 46k, almost twice as much.

While Kia has definitely stepped up its game, and the current Sorento offers a lot of luxury for it’s price range,I  wonder how the resale is going to be on the latest generation of classy Korean cars. The American market is used to their South Korean imports being cheap, basic, and with an outrageously good warranty. You might take less of a hit when it comes time to sell by opting for a trim level with fewer options.

2017 Kia Soul! Turbo – Kia Finally Boosts Their Box

2017 Kia Soul! Turbo – Kia Finally Boosts Their Box

Back in 2009 there was a boxing match of sorts. It seems that three manufacturers, Nissan, Kia and Scion, decided they’d see who could sell Americans on the boxiest automotive design. Consumers who wanted something a little square were spoiled for choice between the Cube, the Soul, and the Xb Who won? Well, you can’t buy a new Cube anymore, and you could say Scion got knocked out. The only contender left is the plucky Kia Soul. Eight years on and Kia has sweetened the recipe by tossing a turbo charger into the mix Of the three boxers, the Kia is definitely the most swoopy. The bodywork is a little more conservative than the kooky asymmetry of the Cube, and less boxy than the take ‘em or leave ‘em looks of first generation Xb. The Kia wears a playful expression, with headlights that sweep back onto the fenders. Front and center there’s the Kia corporate grille design that always reminds me of a teething toddler. In profile, the raked windshield lends a slightly sporty air to the box. Rather than being parallel with the window sills, the roofline appears higher in the front and tapers toward the rear. This give the impression of embellished foreshortening, and makes the car look like it’s coming at you. The 18” alloy wheels look good nestled into fender wells. Out back there is a lift gate between to large taillights mounted high on either side of the rear window. The Soul! has a red detail stripe along the lower bodywork on the grille and down the side to tip off onlookers that there’s something special under the hood. Interior space was a nice surprise. There’s plenty of space under the dash to stretch one’s legs and the headroom is excellent. The infotainment system is easy to use; I especially like the Apple CarPlay feature which allowed me to operate my iphone through the car’s 7” touchscreen without a hitch. Set in each end of the dash is a unique speaker and a/c vent design. The leading edge of the roof is scalloped and sweeps back from the center to meet the tops of the A-pillars. From the outside this looks good, but from the driver’s seat there was something about the angle of the upper corners of the windshield that felt a little unsettling at first. The turbocharged four banger in the Soul!, read Soul Exclaim, churns out 201 horsepower and almost as many pound feet of torque. This is backed up by a seven speed automatic transmission that feels like it’s constantly working to find just the right gear. No doubt it short shifts by design for efficiency’s sake, but the result is that it has to shift back down any time you accelerate. You won’t find paddle shifters, but there is a sport mode that goes a long way toward reigning in the wanton shifts. The acceleration is significantly better than the base model soul. The steering is compliant, and the Soul! feels good around town and on the highway. If you or someone you love has their heart set on a Soul, the turbo is the way to go. The added power changes the Soul’s personality in a good way. Add the 10 year 100k powertrain warranty and close to 30 mpg highway to this and I’d say the Soul! is a good value starting under 25k.