KIA’S 2015 SORENTO SMALL SUV REMAINS BRAND’S BEST SELLER

2015 Kia Sorento

By Tom Crosby

Kia’s Sorento last year replaced or upgraded over 80 percent of the vehicle’s parts to improve its popular compact utility vehicle (CUV) – a small version of a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) – and continues the vehicle’s third generation into 2015 relatively unchanged, except for minor tweaks.

It remains the brand’s bestseller. Our test drive was the top of the four trims, the SX-Limited with the V-6 engine mated to a front-wheel drive chain. The other trims begin with the base LX available with a smaller 2.4-liter four cylinder engine, and the EX and SX, both using the same V6 engine as the SX-L.

Our test drive last year in the Sorrento EX V6 exhibited more confident handling due to its all-wheel drive, a choice for those who want to play off-road and quickly navigate tight, on-road twists and turns.

The seven-seater SX-L, which is nearly 200 pounds lighter than the AWD V-6 Sorrento EX, rides on 19-inch chrome alloy wheels, boasts a heated and wood-trimmed steering wheel, and all occupants enjoy premium Nappa leather with the first and second row window seats heated.

All Sorrentos use a smoothly reactive six-speed automatic transmission or manually selected gears on the center spine shifter.

Riding solo, I averaged 26 mpg – slightly better than EPA’s highway mpg estimate – on 1,300 Interstate miles traveling approximately 5-7 mph above the posted speed limit to keep up with traffic.

Sorrentos offer good visibility, especially when aided by blind spot detection and rear camera views with crossing alert. The suspension is solid, providing smoothness over minor road bumps with some jarring over speed bumps and deeper potholes.

Third row seating is squished, but second and third row seats fold flat for an ample 72.5 cubic feet of cargo space. Gauges are easily read and used, and UVO (short for Your Voice), is Kia’s voice-activated telematics system and includes Bluetooth, iPod and iPhone connections.

For 2015, drivers can separate UVO from the voice-recognition navigation system, allowing for better understanding of verbal commands – a frustrating issue in 2014 vehicles.

Parking sensors help when squeezing into tight spaces, along with folding side mirrors. At night door handles are illuminated and “Goodbye” appears on the dashboard screen when you push-button the engine off.

Safety ratings have been high in both federal and insurance crash tests. Kia means “to arise, come up out of Asia” in Chinese.

LIKES: Handling, ride, cargo space, visibility, interior
DISLIKES: Third row space
BOTTOM LINE: Sorento improvements just keep pushing it up the small SUV food chain.

FACT FILE: SORENTO SX-L FWD 2015

  • Base price w/destination fee $40,795
  • Vehicle curb weight 3,722 lbs
  • Wheelbase 106.3 inches
  • Length 184.6 inches
  • Width 74.2 inches
  • Engine specs 3.3-liter, DOHC, 24-valve, V-6, GDI
  • Horsepower 290 hp at 6,400 rpm
  • Torque 252 ft.-lbs. at 5,200 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed automatic w/Sportmatic
  • EPA Rating 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway
  • Range 17.4-gallon tank, regular
  • Performance 0 to 60 in less than 7.5 seconds