Odometer at pick-up: 427 km

It’s always nice to start out a long-term review with a little bit of good news, so now is as good a time as any to congratulate the newest member of our long-term fleet, the Kia Sorento, for winning its SUV/CUV $35K–$60K category in AJAC’s Canadian Car of the Year testing, making it eligible to win overall Utility of the Year honours.

So we haven’t even started, but it’s already a winner, and it doesn’t take much time to understand why it is award-worthy: fetching design, spacious, flexible interior, a variety of powertrain options, features at $50K that drive luxury cars to tens of thousands more and ease of use that schools its competitors.

However, while AJAC’s testing process gets input from dozens of journalists, they only judge based on a short test drive in the peace and quiet of the Ontario countryside. We plan to run it through the gauntlet of commuting from the suburbs to the office in the city, shopping at Costco, running errands, shuttling the kids to school and the rink and the pool, taking some buddies to hockey, installing child seats, going on family road trips, moving… y’know, life, the real world.

Let’s take a look at Kia’s lineup and see what we have for our test. The base Sorento is the LX trim, arriving with a naturally aspirated 2.4L four cylinder engine driving the front wheels at a starting price of $27,495 with a $1,715 Destination fee. Even the base car has the essential six-speeds automatic transmission, but power is a modest 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque, though in this trim it still weighs a fairly modest 1,680 kg (in top V6 AWD trim that rises to 1,860 kg). The standard feature list is painfully long, but feature content is one of the most appealing aspects of the Sorento, so bear with me. First, the big ticket items: air conditioning, 17-inch alloys, rear parking sonar, auto headlights and foglights, power windows, mirrors and locks with remote entry and heated front seats and side mirrors (with signal repeaters).

The tilt and telescopic steering wheel has controls for the cruise control and audio, which is a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/Satellite stereo with auxiliary & USB input ports and Bluetooth wireless technology. Seats are covered in YES Essentials fabric, the driver’s seat is height adjustable and two-way lumbar adjustment and the second-row seat splits and folds 40:20:40.

Little things that make life easier include a trip computer, sunglasses holder, USB charger, dual front power outlet, rear cargo power outlet, tinted glass, map lights, illuminated vanity mirrors, express up/down driver window with obstacle detection, heated windshield wiper de-icer and variable intermittent windshield wipers. On the outside, the Sorento gets a rear spoiler, roof rails, front & rear mud guards, body-coloured sideview mirrors and chrome door handles.

All Sorentos come with essential safety equipment like six airbags (advanced dual front, dual front side and dual curtain), four-wheel ABS disc brakes, electronic stability control, vehicle stability management and Hill Assist Control.

The only option on LX models with the base powertrain is $2,000 for AWD ($29,495).

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