Less Is More: The 2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD 2.0 T

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Kia Sorento
The 2016 Kia Sorento.
Regular TireKicker readers know of our deep appreciation for the Kia Sorento.  It more than earned it a year ago when it was our mode of transport for an eight-day, 1800 mile camping trip from Folsom (suburban Sacramento, California) to Utah and back. More recently, a week in the redesigned 2016 Sorento with the V6 engine ended with a spot on the TireKicker's Best Cars list on the right side of this page. So what more is there to say? Plenty, as it turns out.

Rear 3/4 view of 2016 Kia Sorento
2016 Kia Sorento.
For 2016, there is a third engine choice (the base is a 2.4-liter four)...a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.  Available only on the mid-level EX and top-of-the-line Limited (or SXL, as the badge on the tailgate reads), you'll save $1,400 over the cost of the V6 on the EX and $1,600 on the SXL.  

You'll lose 50 horsepower in the bargain, but gain some fuel economy, according to the EPA, which rates the turbo at 19 city/25 highway versus the V6's 17/23.  And we got 26.9 from the V6 on our Utah adventure, so it's possible that your mileage may vary to the upside. 

But, what about that 50 horsepower, you ask? You probably won't notice it's gone.  The switch from 3.3 liters to 2.0 results in a loss of 90 pounds.  That not only helps acceleration, it improves the Sorento's handling, because all that weight was over the front wheels.  And while torque is up only eight pounds per foot (260 versus the V6's 252), you get the peak of it much earlier...at 1,450 RPM instead of at 5,300.  That translates to very quick off the line acceleration and less fuel burned to get to speed.

Interior view of 2016 Kia Sorento
2016 Kia Sorento interior.
As we noted in February's V6 review, the car is also stunningly good looking, and that applies to the all-new interior, which looks and feels like it belongs in a $50,000 SUV.  That's a good thing, because a loaded (our tester had one option, the SXL Technology Package, with Xenon HID headlamps, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, an electronic parking brake, surround view monitor and smart cruise control, for $2,500) one will get very close.  With $895 inland freight and handling, ours came out to $45,095. That's actually quite a bit less than the $46,495 our last V6 tester cost, though.  

With lighter weight, quick acceleration, smoother shifts (somehow, with the turbo four, the 6-speed automatic always found exactly the right gear almost imperceptibly) and the promise of a modest boost in fuel economy, the 2.0-liter turbo four has just done what we wouldn't have thought possible...improved the Kia Sorento.