It’s a garage filled with some of the most innovative cars ever to be built: a Tatra T87, a Citroën DS, and (of course) a Tesla Model S as the daily driver. I’m here to cover a few of these for a story or two, but at the end of the ride, it’s time to grab something far more mundane to head back home, a mid-sized crossover from a Korean car known for its budget-based offerings.
Subaru made hay of this image before with an ad featuring a beige Kia sedan as the antithesis to the unique features provided by the Legacy. Well, joke’s on them as the Legacy is a far more conservative car these days than the products coming out of Seoul.
Approach the car and the wing mirrors automatically unfold. Slide into the ventilated seats and hit the keyless start button. Hear the direct-injection 2.0L turbocharged four burst to life and dial up some tunes on the Infinity audio. There’s no oleo-pneumatic suspension, no radical aerodynamics nor air-cooled rear-mounted flat-six, no all-electric powertrain with Ludicrous mode. It’s a pretty ordinary car – but look how far ordinary has come.
On the face of things, you’ll have to look pretty hard. While the 2016 Sorento has significantly massaged sheet metal on its exterior, and a longer, wider platform, it looks not entirely dissimilar from the old one. Also, I had a Sedona SXL minivan the week before this in a very similar dark burgundy colour, and my three-year-old couldn’t tell we’d switched cars. Neither could my wife.
That’s either a win for the minivan or a tie for the crossover, or a series of high-fives in the marketing department at the effectiveness of the Kia corporate grille. Again, bit of a bottle-opener, but with floating mesh and a big badge out in front, it’s a handsome face fronting a car the company can be justifiably proud of.
More Sorento on autoTRADER.ca: 2016 Kia Sorento First Impressions
On this SX trim you get 19-inch alloys, and one can only hope the proliferation of 19-inch and 20-inch rims throughout the entire crossover segment starts driving tire prices down. Designers range-top everything with big rims these days, which adds ownership costs for the consumers down the road. Still, they look cool, and looking cool over functionality worked for Beats by Dre.
Inside, the Sorento is certainly roomier thanks to its lengthened dimensions, and in this five-seat trim should have plenty of space for your modern family of five who wouldn’t be caught dead in a Sedona. Rear cargo space is an excellent 1077 L behind the second row seats, leaving plenty of room for active kids. Um, their stuff, not the kids. Unless you have tie-downs for the dog crates.
Compared to dedicated three-rowers like the Highlander or Pilot, the second row of the Sorento seemed a little snugger when placing in a rear-facing child seat. That’s what happens when you have a single wheelbase to serve multiple seat configurations. However, overall it’s a competitive size, and if Kia can just get those Toyota and Honda customers in the door to check out the other Korean competition, they’ll be relatively impressed.