In my opinion, U.S. consumers are accustomed to opting for either “good enough” from domestic (and domesticated) automotive manufacturers, or “too much” from luxury import auto brands. Brands like Kia are making it very hard for consumers to ignore all of style, features and savings that come with buying a “no name” brand.
As a car guy, I’ll admit to seeing Kia car commercials and thinking to myself “that car was fly, but would I ever consider owning one?” My bias for recognizable car brands would normally win that internal struggle. That is, until I got the chance to drive a ‘Snow White Pearl’ 2016 Kia Sorento with a 3.3-liter V6 engine, all-wheel drive, and fully-loaded with technology features.
The 2016 Kia Sorento offers eight different trims to choose from. This particular Sorento was the SXL Limited V6 version that was well-appointed with 19-inch chrome wheels with matching trim all around, HID (High Intensity Discharge) Headlights and LED fog lights, upper-spoiler, and a pretty aggressive stance for a family-friendly cross-over SUV.
Personally, I wouldn’t be caught dead in a minivan (no shade to those who whip a minivan on a daily basis…Well, maybe a little shade), but many SUV’s on the road today still resemble a minivan. The Sorento’s sporty looks definitely do not give off a similar same vibe. Again, my initial impression was “pretty fly, but it’s still a Kia so…”
Here is where “no name” brands like Kia well…make a name for themselves that have people like me reconsidering what they deem a “dope ride”. Just a peek inside of this Sorento gave off a luxury vibe in an affordable package. The first thing that caught my eye was the White Nappa leather that matched the Snow White Pearl exterior color perfectly.
During the walk-through with my STI representative, I tuned him out for the next couple of seconds after he unveiled the expansive panoramic sunroof that gave the 2nd-row passengers a full view of the sky when fully opened. Speaking of which, this Sorento was equipped with the 3rd-Row option, that when in use still offered a sliver of cargo space in the rear…Not a ton of space, but just enough to seat 7 people and store some shopping bags.
With any automobile nowadays, the number of power outlets and charging ports have rightfully taken the place of cup holders as an indicator of how luxurious an automobile is…and this Sorento had ports everywhere. If in fact, seven people were all in this ride, every one of them had availability to at least on port to charge up their many mobile devices.
Additional notable features included a wood/leather wrapped (and heated) steering wheel, front and second-row heated/cooled seats, and the one-button ability to toggle the Sorento’s Drive Mode between Normal, Eco and Sport…I made sure to stay in Sport mode that while loosing fuel economy, increases performance driving. Yes, I’m what you call a “defensively-aggressive driver.” My only gripe about Drive Mode Select is that it doesn’t remember the last mode I was in. It always defaults to Normal, so I had to switch to Sport every time I went for a drive.
A couple of welcome convenience features to note are the heated, power-folding side-view mirrors that are also apart of what Kia calls a Smart Welcome System that will automatically fold out when they detect the Smart key. The door pockets also light up when you approach to make it easier to get in when it’s dark.
Another cool feature is the Auto Hold feature that when engaged, let me take my foot off the brake while at a complete stop. When it’s time to accelerate, all I had to do was hit the gas. Finally, my Kia Sorento was outfitted with an Smart Power Liftgate that automatically opens when you approach from the rear – No button pushing or waving body parts around when you have your hands full.
The ONLY feature I take for granted in my own daily driver that I missed on this Sorento was a remote start feature. As a rule of thumb, you’re supposed to let your vehicle “warm up” for at least a minute before you start driving. A remote start from the house negates waiting in the car while the engine stretches its proverbial legs.
All of the tech features crammed into this Kia Sorento required a section of their own. On the safety tip, it was equipped with front-bumper sensors and indicators that indicate and notify me of a possible collision while driving, and Blind-Spot Detection on the side view mirrors that let me know about surrounding vehicles, and Lane Departure Warning that beeped when I started to veer into another lane without signaling.
I LOVE DRIVING, so I hardly ever use cruise control, but the Advance Smart Cruise Control that automatically adjusts my speed to keep a safe distance from the car in front of me would definitely come in handy on those long road-trips to Indiana or Maryland.
If you claim that you can’t park, This Kia Sorento is for you. The Surround View Monitor utilizes 4 cameras located all around the Sorento to give drivers 360-degrees of viewing for detecting potential safety hazards, as well as front and rear sensors for squeezing into the tightest of spots during those stressful parallel parking situations. I consider myself a parking pro, but the surround view monitor let me fit into spots “LIKE A GLOVE”.
Of course the Kia Sorento I drove was packed with a ten-speaker Infinity surround sound that automatically adjusted the sound based on my speed. The XM Radio interface was also one of the most user-friendly systems I’ve used. To round out the audio, HD Radio was also included and I must-say, you can definitely tell the difference between FM and HD Radio. It’s worth the investment when it comes time for you to add features to a vehicle purchase.
The tech crown-jewel to the Kia Sorento is its UVO Services that integrates your smartphone into the mix. The integrated navigation included Google Send-to-Car that let me send map destinations right to the Sorento’s navi from my iPhone. With the UVO app installed on my iPhone, I could also keep an eye on my vehicle info, quickly access Roadside assist features, and remember where I parked using the Parking Minder feature that sent location coordinates to my phone.
I have several years before my girls start thinking about driving, but for those parents with driving-age kids, the UVO Services and the app also lets you create curfew and speed notifications, as well as geo-fence an area to get notifications when your Sorento enters and leaves that area.
In most other vehicles, all of these features would leave you to believe that you would have to sign over your 1st born son (or in my case, 1st born daughter) to own it. But, this 2016 Kia Sorento SXL V6 AWD is loaded, but affordable enough so that you’re not considering dipping into your kid’s college-fund. Which, what has me slowly but surely redefining what I deem a “dope ride”
With the right features and price, would you drive a Kia? Let me know in the comments section