2016 Kia Sorento 2.0T AWD Review

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It used to be rare that we’d test a four-cylinder vehicle that cost more than the same model equipped with a V-6, but that’s becoming more common—and it’s what we have here: a loaded Kia Sorento SXL for $45,095, fully 10 percent pricier than the V-6 AWD edition tested previously. This four, though, isn’t the base engine—it’s the 240-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter found in the EX and in this SXL (for “SX Limited”) trim level. It generates more torque at lower rpm than does the 290-hp 3.3-liter V-6, while squeezing an extra 2 or 3 miles out of each gallon of regular unleaded gasoline, according to the EPA ratings. Like all Sorentos, it features a six-speed automatic.

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Bracketing the V-6 at the lower end of the lineup is a second four-cylinder, as the base Sorento L and LX make do with a normally aspirated 2.4-liter rated at 185 horsepower; the upside to the base engine is that it returns the best EPA ratings. Generally speaking, all the four-cylinder models—turbo or non-turbo—are two-row crossovers while the V-6 versions (LX, EX, SX, and SXL) add a tiny third-row seat. There’s only one way to get three rows in a four-cylinder: The LX with the base engine offers the third row as an extracost option.

While opting for the turbocharged four instead of the V-6 looks like a straight-up exchange of 50 horsepower for 3 mpg in the EPA-combined rating, the real-world situation is a little more nuanced. Our V-6 test car was in the SX trim, which is not available with the turbo and is one step down from the SXL we drove here, and the six weighed 136 pounds more on our scale.

At the track, this turbo four trailed the V-6, taking 8.0 seconds to hit 60 mph versus 7.2, but the gap narrowed in the quarter-mile, this model doing 16.2 seconds at 87 mph as compared to 15.7 at 90. Full-throttle drag racing probably won’t figure into most buyers’ lives with a car like this; a more telling figure may be the midrange passing times. Both versions took 3.9 seconds from 30 to 50 mph, and from 50 to 70 mph the V-6 at 5.1 seconds beat the turbo four by only a tenth. In routine city and highway driving, we never missed the six-cylinder’s power, perhaps because the turbo four’s peak torque comes on strong at only 1450 rpm. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Michael Simari

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