It was when four of us riding at, ah, highway speed on the Interstate that I had an epiphany of sorts. I broke into the conversation, probably rudely interrupting someone in mid-sentence, and said, “This is really quiet!” The “this” was a 2016 Kia Sorento SX AWD and the conversation was among two couples out for dinner and a hockey game.
It was after the hockey game, so even a trainwreck might seem tranquil after that. But it was still a fair reaction was to how really quiet the Sorento is. Our test vehicle was powered by Kia’s 3.3 direct injection V-6 (the only engine offered at the SX trim level) and it was loping along with the six-speed automatic transmission in Drive, and nary a whisper from under the hood was reaching the passenger compartment. We were aware of the road beneath us, but little tire noise reached the cabin, and wind noise, nah. Not worth mentioning.
Kia credits a stiffer chassis, with an “increased use of advanced high-strength steel and additional structural reinforcement” with increased torsional rigidity, reducing NVH, engineer shorthand for “noise, vibration and harshness.” There’s also a new rear subframe that allows a change in bushing limits NVH coming from the rear wheels and suspension. All but the base Sorento L has a noise-absorbing windshield, and from the EX up—including our SX, the front side-window glass is sound-absorbing as well.
But Kia has also stuffed insulation just about everywhere there is to stuff. Look through the gap between the door and the front fender to see inside the fender what looks like batting, a blanket of insulation. And if you can see it, no doubt there’s more where you can’t. Regardless, it must be working because it’s not a noisy cabin.
This isn’t top of the line, either. But while the Kia Sorento is available in five trim levels–L, LX, EX, SX and SXL—we have no reason to believe the SX gives up anything to the SXL in regards to noise inside.
It’s only next to the top of the line, but the SX still comes well fettled. Check out the attached window sticker (in the specifications below) for Kia’s list of features, The seats have leather and the dash—not leather—is still held together with seams with French stitching, a technique that not many years ago Cadillac, for example, was holding up as a sign of exclusivity and expense. Soft touch surfaces abound in the Sorento SX, across the dash and on the door panels, everywhere is seems except where there’s piano black trim.
The SX comes standard with Kia’s UVO eServics and navigation, with of the industry’s widest touch-screen monitor. At eight inches, it’s wide enough to display, for example, the navigation system’s map and audio information at the same time, side-by-side. You can change stations while using the nav system and not have to keep flipping back and forth between screens, as with every other single-screen system we can think of (although the Infiniti Q50 we recently tested had two screens).
Sliding second row seats are near universal in mid-size SUV’s/CUV’s and the one in the Sorento slides more than most, back for maximum mid-seat legroom, or up against backs of the front seat, good for moving the little ones closer to the front seats. The Sorento SX, in addition to privacy glass, has standard window shades that pull up from the window sill. No paparazzi, please.
Kia says access to the third row has been improved. It’s still not easy for anyone other than tot to teen. And it’s not that luxurious once you’re there, at least if you’re more than ten years old. The seat is low and your knees are up, and you hope that middle seat slides forward just a little.
For anyone sincerely interested in carrying seven people in comfort, with room left for assorted baggage, a Kia dealer’s sales staff will gladly direct you to a Kia Sonoma. Minivans are still one of the most practical of vehicles, though admittedly not the sexiest.
One of our big complaints about SUV/CUV configurations is that folding the second row typically does not make a flat load floor surface, and the 2016 Kia Sorento is as guilty as the rest. The third row folds flat, a good thing because with third row seating in place, there isn’t much room for cargo, or even a family’s worth of groceries from the supermarket.
Speaking of folding, the 2016 Kia Sorento SX has power-folding outside mirrors. They can fold automatically with a choice of settings. Our mirrors folded when we locked the car, pushing a button on the door handle—a proximity key is standard—and then folded out automatically when we returned. Or walked past the vehicle. It’s like a puppy perking up his ears when it’s time to go or a ride. It’s nice to have an enthusiastic vehicle.
On the other hand, the proximity key system that opens the hatch without having to Ford-kick under the bumper opened the hatch because we accidentally stood in the wrong place with the key. Sooner or later we’d figure out where that spot is…and stand somewhere else.
How about standing next to the gas pump? Our test vehicle recorded 19.5 mpg during its stay with us. That compares with 17/23 mpg city/highway EPA estimates.