11472 2017 Sorento 2

2016 KIA Sorento SXL AWD Review

11472 2017 Sorento 2
2016 KIA Sorento SXL AWD
Interior Quality
Engine Performance
Fuel Economy
Tricky Parking Brake

Car Reviews

When automakers redesign a vehicle, they rarely ever get smaller. In the case of the revamped Kia Sorento, it gets bigger and roomier for crossover buyers. Is bigger always better? Only if you increase engine size to go with it, which Kia did, with a new, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder for 2016.

Is it enough for the larger Sorento crossover? We wanted to find out.

This week we tested the 2016 KIA Sorento SXL with all-wheel drive.

What’s New For 2016?

The Kia Sorento has been completely redesigned for 2016. It’s bigger, more sophisticated, and gets improved driving dynamics. The new Sorento is three inches longer than previous models.

Features & Options

The top-of-the-line 2016 KIA Sorento SXL AWD ($41,700) is loaded with all the extras. It comes standard with chrome-clad 19-inch wheels, upgraded leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, and heated second-row outboard seats. SXL also comes with upgraded steering, LED taillights, upgraded exterior trim, a 10-way power driver seat (plus four-way power lumbar), driver memory settings, a fabric headliner, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The optional Technology package ($2,500) added xenon headlights, a multi-angle parking camera, an electronic parking brake, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure, and forward collision warning systems.

Total MSRP including destination: 45,095.

Interior Highlights

Inside, the Kia Sorento SXL is clearly the top model with extras like upgraded Nappa leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, and heated second row seats. The cabin feels much bigger than the outgoing model because it is. There’s extra legroom up front with more room in back too, although the third row is best suited for children.

The cabin has a higher-quality feel with the full-length sunroof, Infinity sound, and soft-touch materials.

We used the Sorento this week to haul some gardening supplies from our local Home Depot. The back cargo area is big and swallowed up the plants, flowers, dirt, and groceries – we even had room for a little more. A handy switch up front allows the driver to open the rear hatch for easy loading. 

We used the button on the console for the 360 degree surround view camera. We could easily check for kids and cars as we backed out of the parking spot. Visibility is good, and the camera adds an extra level of safety for families with small children.

Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs

This SXL AWD tester came with the optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It produces 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated to a 6-speed Sportmatic automatic transmission sending power to all four wheels.

EPA-estimated fuel economy is 19/25 city/highway and 22 combined mpg with all-wheel drive. Is the turbo engine powerful enough for the bigger Sorento? That’s what we wanted to find out!

Driving Dynamics

Up near Evergreen, Colorado, it pulled the two-lane mountain roads like it was at sea level. There was plenty of power for passing and we didn’t want for more. On the open road, it delivered readily. There was some turbo lag when we punched the gas from a start, but it was eager once the tube kicked in.

The 6- speed automatic gearbox is smooth and a pleasure after driving so many CVTs. We did notice, however, the parking brake was hard to release once engaged. It took us by surprise as we had to fiddle with it. 

On the highway, handling is controlled, and the ride is smooth and quiet. We cranked up the Infinity sound and sat back in the Nappa leather seats and enjoyed the ride. The Sorento feels solid and composed at high speeds. It’s not a sports SUV, but you will enjoy driving it as you transport the kids to the soccer game or swimming pool.

A Drive Mode Select button has a Sport mode that dials up the performance dynamics a notch. We prefer the longer shifts as we pursued more spirited driving this week. 


The 2016 Kia Sorento SXL will give you a lot of room and comfort for the money. It has more interior space for the first and second rows, and the cargo carrying ability is excellent if you have lots of gear. The interior is upscale, and it offers lots of amenities, including a state-of-the-art infotainment system. Overall, the Sorento with the 2.0-liter turbo delivers an enjoyable driving experience.  

*Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy

Kia Sorento Gallery

Photos: Kia (2016 & 2017 Sorento models shown)

  1. We have a Kia Sorento now. I have been saying all along. The seats aren’t cushey enough.I’ve owned a driven a few cars. Pontiac. all GMC’s really. There seats had a lot more cushion. I know if the seats were upgraded into a more comfortable feel they would sell a lot more Sorento’s.

    1. Rita thank you for the response and for reading our site. I will pay attention to this the next time I drive a Sorento.

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