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Roseville, Calif.- In the past, the Kia Sorento has been a middle-of-the-road selection among midsize sports utility vehicles. There was really nothing real special, other than its affordable price.

The 2016 Kia Sorento still retains that same modest price (starting at just under $25,000), but thanks to a substantial redesign, it also comes with more sophistication and overall appeal.

Among the significant changes are a turbocharged four-cylinder engine has been added to the lineup, an upgraded suspension, and improved steering. The styling is also better inside and out.

Like many offerings in the Kia lineup, the Sorento has distanced itself from its modest beginnings when the South Korean automaker produced mainly affordable cars that often came with a “cheap” tagline. Overall, Kia vehicles are now well respected and are giving both Honda and Toyota some serious competition.

Four years ago, Kia transformed the Sorento from a truck-based model to a car-like crossover SUV. The result: The Sorento began delivering a comfortable ride, which is what the majority of midsize SUV owner’s desire.

The Sorento, which has three rows of seating and can carry up to seven people, competes primarily against the Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Edge, and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

One certainly notices a difference in this year’s Sorento when seeded inside. It now has more soft touch surfaces and the two-tone color scheme makes it quite an attractive design. The interior has user-friendly controls and overall is very intuitive, so the learning curve is minimal.

2016 Kia Sorento

  • Performance: 2.4-liter, four-cylinder, 185 horsepower; turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 202 horsepower; 3.3-liter, V6, 290 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 21-29 mpg; 21-27 mpg; 17-23 mpg
  • Price: $24,900 to $43,100
  • Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles; drivetrain 10 years/100,000 miles; roadside assistance 5 years/60,000

The Sorento’s second row is a little larger and has the versatility to slide, recline or simply fold flat for additional cargo area. The storage area behind the third row is larger (11 cubic feet) this year. With the third row down, the cargo area enlarges to 38.8 cubic feet and has a maximum storage of 73.5 cubic feet.

There are three different engines with the 2016 Sorento. The turbo model is an impressive 2.0-liter, four-cylinder that produces 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It seems faster than the 0-60 mph in 8.7 seconds that Kia says it can travel. Gas mileage is 21-27 mpg, which is just a little shy of the other four-cylinder engine.

The base model Kia engine is a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder that generates 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. The mileage is 21-29 mph and the towing capacity is 2,000 pounds.

The third engine option, available in three of the model trims, is a powerful 3.3-liter, V6 with 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. It’s been clocked going 0-60 mph in 7.6 seconds and the mileage ranges from 17-23 mpg.

The new Sorento offers an improved ride that is quiet and doesn’t seem to be bothered by bumps or uneven surfaces. Every Sorento comes with the Driver Mode Select, which features three modes (Normal, Sport and Eco).

Kia has produced a crossover that has a nice balance between small and midsize SUVs. Interior room, gas mileage, and attractive exterior are all a plus with the 2016 Sorento.

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