In a way, Kia has taken the automotive world and made it recognize its emergence into the mainstream with an offering for each popular segment. For the crossover SUV demographic, the Kia Sorento plays to the tone of what is desired in the versatile American lifestyle longing for seating of up to 7 seats but wrapped up in a relatively economical midsized package. For the 2015 model, the new Kia Sorento remains mostly unchanged from the styling update in 2014, featuring available V6 power and a new top-range trim level including all available features, the SXL, replacing the outgoing Limited trim.
The 2015 Kia Sorento SXL AWD brings the best of what Kia has to offer in a crossover vehicle with available seating of up to 7 passengers and a long list of standard luxury features. One of the major takeaways of the Kia Sorento, having 3 rows of seats, is it retaining a midsized architecture, never venturing into a larger sized category with its conservative dimensions. As far as its sizing and feature seats go, the Kia Sorento is available in 4 trim levels, LX, EX, SX and SXL, each starting off as a 2-row 5-passenger vehicle and having the availability of a 3rd row with a 50/50 split bench for 2 additional passengers. With my test vehicle being at the top-end of the trim spectrum, a Sorento SXL AWD with 7-passenger seating, I was able to get a better feel for Kia putting their best versatility foot forward.
The Kia Sorento has a choice of two engines with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with 191 horsepower and 181 ft-lbs. of torque being the standard equipment for the LX trim and the 3.3-liter V6 with 290 horsepower and 252 ft-lbs. of torque being the optional selection for the LX but standard on EX, SX and SXL trims. All-wheel-drive as an option to the standard front-wheel-drive setup, can be had on all trims. My V6-powered 2015 Kia Sorento SXL with all-wheel-drive proved to be a rather accommodating crossover SUV on the road with an exceptional ride quality much like the attitude of a midsized luxury car. The all-wheel-drive system kept the Sorento SXL firmly planted out of turns working in sync with its well-tuned suspension and forgiving dampers. The body motion of the Sorento was much improved over previous years, riding nearly luxury-like without any unwanted motions over bumps and uneven surfaces.
Performance from the 3.3-liter V6 proved to be adequate for the size and stature of the Sorento, even when you pile in a full load of passengers. I found that the 6-speed automatic transmission does a good job at landing the proper gear to keep the V6 engine near its sweet upper rpm spots without unwanted gear-hunting. Much of the Sorento’s driving character is soft, to put it lightly. The steering, despite the 3-selectable modes (comfort, normal, sport), remains to have an easy effort without adding additional road feel even while in sport mode. Essentially, the electric steering retains a numb consistency no matter what type of road conditions you throw at it. With the steering lacking feedback, the body communication makes up for it slightly when pushing it through turns. Turn-in retains smoothness and can be predictable, which assists you with properly navigating the Sorento exactly where you point it. The larger 19-inch 235/55 tires do their part to keep things in line and onlookers busy from the sporty look of the chrome wheels and red-painted brake calipers on my SXL trimmed Sorento. Fuel consumption of the Sorento V6 AWD comes in at 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, falling on an average scale for 3-row crossover vehicles. I was able to match those figures with occasionally getting slightly better on the highway with nearly 25 mpg. Mind you, the front wheel drive Sorento LX 4-cylinder trim gets only slightly better mpg with 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.
Inside of the 2015 Kia Sorento SXL AWD the cabin is nicely appointed and is visually luxurious. Many of the materials used are plastic, though most of the surfaces, including the hard-plastic dashboard, are all visually-perceived to be higher quality materials. Kia pulled off a nice stunt to trick your eyes in many areas of the dashboard. The clever use of soft-touch plastics, in most of the areas that you would actually ‘touch’, prevents the cabin from having an overly cheap perception. Good fit and finish also appeals to the quality of the interior along with the accented stitching on the black leather seats. Comfort in the Sorento is good for the front seats and 2nd row sliding and reclining seats. The 3rd row, on the other hand, is slightly designated for smaller adults or children due to its smaller dimensions and lack of legroom.
Many luxury amenities, all coming as standard equipment on my Sorento SXL trimmed test vehicle, add to the over-all appeal and quality perception. My test car included notable features like the blind-spot detection, power adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, Nappa leather seating surfaces, navigation system with an 8-inch LCD touch screen, pushbutton start with smart key (keyless access via front door handle buttons), dual-zone auto climate control with rear seating (2nd and 3rd row) vents (3rd row has separate vent speed control), heated outboard 2nd row seats, power liftgate, a massively-large panoramic sunroof with a power sunshade, HID headlights, LED tail lights, power-folding heated rearview mirrors, and UVO eServices telematics system with rear camera display (backup camera).
At the other end of the economical side of the 2015 Kia Sorento, is its pricing. Starting at just $26,995 for the Sorento LX 4-cylinder makes it an exceptional buy, especially with the availability of 7-passenger seating. On the contrary, at the top-trim end of things, the Sorento can quickly step to $35,000 for the V6 SX trim. My top-end 2015 Kia Sorento SXL AWD trim, coming as a fully loaded vehicle by the designation of the trim, tips the pricing scale at an as-tested $42,595.