Kia revealed its all-new 2014 Sorento SUV at the Los Angeles Interational Auto Show weeks ago, but trickled out some more information about it this week. Interesting to note: The available V6 has just 10 ponies shy of 300 horsepower.
Displacing just 3.3 liters and featuring gasoline direct injection (GDI), the all-aluminum engine is good for 290 horsepower at a soaring 6,400 RPM and 252 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 RPM, according to Kia’s latest press release on the Sorento. That engine is standard equipment in every trim package except the base LX, and even there, it is available as an option.
The power is transferred to the wheels– either front wheels only or all four, if you opt for the all-wheel drive system Kia calls Torque On Demand– via a standard six-speed automatic transmission on all trims. Helping make sure every possible pony gets to the ground is the Sorento’s electric motor driven power steering pump– one less parasitic loss with which the engine must cope. The steering rate has been quickened, Kia says, to just shy of 3 turns lock-to-lock.
Now for some perspective: Consider that when the Sorento debuted in 2003, its larger 3.5-liter V6 made just 192 horsepower. That same year, the V6-equipped Ford Mustang featured the venerable 3.8-liter lump good for 190 horsepower. Even the 4.6-liter V8-equipped Mustang GT of that year made just 260 horsepower.
Granted, the Sorento isn’t likely to win any autocrosses when put up against a field of massaged ‘Stangs, even if those ‘Stangs are 2003 models. But the fact that we’re now able to experience the same amount of engine power that a decade ago was only available to drivers of sportscars is really remarkable.
It’s a testament to how far engine and drivetrain technology has come in such a short period of time, especially when you consider how fuel-efficient the newer, more powerful engines are in comparison to those distant ghosts of powertrains past. Consider, for example, that the first-generation Sorento, with its 192-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, was rated for just 18 MPG highway, while the 2013 Sorento, with a new-generation 3.5-liter V6 made 276 horsepower and returned 26 MPG highway.
Though massaged to make even more power, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the new-for-2014 Sorento return even better fuel economy thanks to the smaller-displacement V6. It just serves as more proof we live in the golden era of horsepower, where we get to have our cake and eat it, too.