2016 Kia Sorento LX AWD Packs Surprises

The Kia Sorento is a stealthy, surprising player in the SUV class. It sits out in the weeds while the big name players from GMC, Ford, Lexus and others battle it out — all while packing performance and features many drivers would be surprised to discover.

During a weeklong test drive of the new Sorento in its highest trim level (LX AWD), I found the SUV to be comfortable, capable and surprisingly fun to drive, all while considering Kia has the reputation for being a more affordable, less ambitious automaker. The Sorrento fights off that image.

You can take a brand new Kia Sorento home for a genuinely approachable $24,900, if you’re willing to settle for the entry level trim. Decked out with a 3.3 liter, 290 horsepower V6, the All-Wheel-Drive LX pushes up closer to $30,000. With that you get a six-speed automatic transmission that’s also manually shiftable, if you’re so inclined.

The resulting drive opens your eyes a bit with its acceleration and ample speed. While it doesn’t handle as tightly as its more expensive European sisters, its electronic power steering makes sure it stays on the rails for urban use.

Also: 2016 Cadillac CTS Premium AWD Brims Over with Technology

This Kia has no ambition to be part of the crossover wars and opts for full-size, seven-seater SUV status. It seats all seven comfortably with ample room in the back for whatever swag those folk bring with them. All trims include split-folding rear seat back, folding center armrest, manual folding split-bench third row seats and rear ventilation ducts.

Inside, the 2016 Kia Sorento LX AWD throws in all of the candy. The buyer takes home remote keyless power door locks, external temperature display, complete infotainment system, cruise control, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, audio and cruise controls on the steering wheel a rear view camera, destination guidance and turn-by-turn navigation.

Including such a complete suite of in-car features is a smart move by Kia as packing in the high-tech toys and little driver aid flares is a great way to offer a strong alternative to those more expensive SUV choices that can drain market share with sexier badges.

Considering its target price range, Kia wants to undercut the luxury brands — while offering a solid alternative to the more expensive offerings from Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, etc. While Kia might not be able to match overall build quality and drive dynamics, it can throw in many of the same enhancing tech features as the hot shots. That’s a wise play if Kia wants to stay on the bumper of those fancier automakers.

The Kia material on this car puts it out there that it’s rugged enough to take on the great outdoors as an off-road capable machine. I won’t dispute that, but the Sorento seems more comfortable in its natural habitat — the urban forest. Amongst the concrete, steel and glass, it’s an affordable, comfortable and well-equipped animal.

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