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2016 Kia Sorento Named 2016 International SUV of the Year on ICOTY's 20th Anniversary - Presented by Road & Travel Magazine

2016 Kia Sorento Named
2016 International SUV of the Year

2016 International SUV of the Year presented by Road & Travel Magazine

International Car of the Year Awards' 20th Anniversary

Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

The 2016 Sorento, a mid-size crossover utility vehicle by Kia of South Korea built at Kia's USA assembly plant in Georgia, scores a generational make-over that stretches the structure more than three inches longer.

All linear measurements increase on Sorento's 2016 issues, ultimately forging a more spacious passenger compartment with more headroom and legroom for up to three rows of seats. Sorento's significantly longer 109.4-inch wheelbase increases by 3.1 inches as the overall length of 187.4 inches grows by 3.5 inches and the overall width of 74.4 inches expands by 0.2 inches.

Kia's mid-size CUV looks brawny and athletic as drawn with taut lines and chiseled surfaces, fender skin cinching snugly over wheelwell arches and a raked windshield arching over the cabin canopy with swept-back windows and side pillars muted to imitate the profile of a sporty car.

The low-swooping prow houses Kia's signature grille with honeycomb mesh and narrow corner headlamp clusters with eyebrow LED positioning lamps and projector headlights.

Sorento's revamped cabin contains seats in two rows for five riders or three rows for seven passengers.

Two tall captain's chairs on the front row are clad in fine fabric or soft leather. The driver's bucket comes with up to 14-way power adjustments, the second-row 40/20/40 split-folding bench has underfloor cargo stow room and the third-row 50/50 split-folding seats apply to Sorento's V6-equipped top trim issues.

With all seats in place, Sorento's rear cargo area contains 11.3 cubic feet of room -- about the size of a sedan trunk. With back-row seats folded, the cargo bay expands to 38.5 cubic feet, and with second-row seats down the area becomes cavernous with 73.5 cubic feet.

Trim nomenclature changes with the new generation 2016 Sorento lineup to include the Sorento L 2.4 price leader and upgraded Sorento LX 2.4, the light turbo EX 2.0T and sporty SX-Limited 2.0T, then V6-equipped issues:  LX V6, EX V6, SX V6 and over-the-top SX-Limited V6.

All powertrains offer the option of front-wheel-drive (FWD) traction or a permanently-engaged all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. The smart AWD equipment uses a computer and wheel sensors to determine how much power to apply at each wheel for maintaining tire traction on slippery pavement.

Sorento L 2.4 and LX 2.4 editions draw power from a dual-cam 2.4-liter 4-cylinder GDI (gasoline direct injection) engine which generates 185 hp at 6000 rpm with torque pegging to 178 lb-ft at 4000 rpm. The 2.4-liter plant connects to an electronically controlled 6-speed Sportmatic automatic which allows hands-on shift control via steering wheel paddle shifters or a console-mounted shift lever.

EPA fuel economy scores for 2016 Sorento 2.4 editions come in at 21 mpg for city driving and 29 mpg on the highway with FWD and 21/26 mpg city/highway for AWD.

Sorento EX 2.0T and SX-Limited 2.0T editions carry a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder GDI engine with dual overhead cams and turbocharger plus the electronically controlled 6-speed Sportmatic automatic. The 2.0T produces 240 hp at 6000 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 1450-3500 rpm.

Turbo fuel figures tally to 20/27 mpg city/highway for FWD and 19/25 mpg city/highway with AWD.

Kia lights a fire in the 2016 Sorento V6 editions by adding a forceful Lambda gasoline direct injection V6 engine which produces high power and torque numbers. The 3.3-liter V6 has an aluminum block and aluminum cylinder heads, dual overhead cams and dual continuously variable valve timing for high-tech metering of the fuel burn. It generates 290 hp at 6400 rpm plus 252 lb-ft of torque at 5300 rpm operating with regular unleaded (87 Octane) fuel and links exclusively to Kia's electronically controlled 6-speed automatic.

Sorento 2016 V6 editions earn EPA fuel economy numbers of 18/26 mpg city/highway for FWD and 17/23 mpg for AWD.

Kia's increased use of high-strength steel and other structural reinforcements have resulted in improved torsional rigidity for the 2016 Sorento, which translates to increase ride comfort and improved driving dynamics.

Sorento's independent suspension system consists of struts in front and a multi-link arrangement in back with a stabilizer bar at both ends to check lateral body roll. The Motor Driven Power Steering (MDPS) system provides electric power assistance and contributes to the efficiency of Sorento's engines. [Read why it won]

Kia's MSRP chart for the 2016 Sorento stretches from $24,900 to $43,100.