After a week and 600 miles in the Kia Sorento, color me surprised. Very surprised. I guess that is The Power to Surprise. Yeah, I could be one of those Pollyanna automotive journalists who could be loving every vehicle he gets his hands on (although, truth be told, I try and commandeer vehicles that have an interesting technology aspect to them- ergo they may be ahead of the pack from the get-go in our eyes). But I’ll put my fictitious money where my mouth is. If I were to win the lottery tomorrow, I would buy a fully-loaded Kia Sorento. Huh? Yes, I would purchase other vehicles for the fleet, but there are days that Bentley and Porsche just don’t fit the bill. But the Sorento is just-right. It is packaged efficiently. I found it to be just the right size for my needs. Just a little smaller than the GM Lambda triplets and Ford Explorer, but with a big cargo hold and a third-row seat if needed in a pinch. One of the only things I would ask Kia is if they could motorize that third-row (as a option) with a flip of a switch or two.
The UVO entertainment head unit is just what the doctor ordered in terms of cool feature set and ease of use. After just a day with the Kia, I had already figured out the more advanced features of the infotainment system. Moreover, the UVO feature set it all done through your smartphone data plan. There is no connection to the corporate mothership. Which I kind of like. Even though I don’t think GM is using OnStar to intentionally look in on you, I am always a little leery of vehicle tracking in the future when it comes to warrantee issues- “You went offroading on January 16, 2013 on a trail deemed challenging. Now I see there is a warrantee claim on your oil pan…”
There is an honest to goodness volume knob and tuning knob where god and mother nature intended them to be- on opposite sides of the buttons flanked below the 8″ screen. In in previous post I told how great the Infinity system is. The steering wheel controls feel remarkably solid and tactile. My only minor quibble here is the cruise control is on the right and the volume/audio control is on the left. I prefer them to be swapped.
The central focus of the instrument cluster is the large speedometer and information TFT display. The ancillary gauges still use old-school red needles. But you would be hard-pressed to tell at a glance what is real and what is virtual until you turned off the car. The speedometer seemed a little optimistic going up to 160 MPH, but with 80 MPH at 12:00, it proved useful for highway cruising. Just keep it under the halfway mark unless you have Escort’s finest.
I liked the Blind Spot Detection in the side view mirrors. If you try to change lanes and it sees a vehicle, a beep also sounds when you engage the turn signal. The panoramic sunroof is to die for. It gives you a view of the outside world from all three rows. When it gets hot, a quick press of another button pulls a blackout shade from the back to the front. Nice.
The trunk features a power liftgate, and the third row even gets its own A/C with controls. If you have to sit in the back of the bus. The engine pulled nicely, the ride was comfortable- dare I say refined but taught when needed, and the fuel economy is acceptable. The Sorento also just got a 5-Star NHTSA safety rating and kicked butt on the IIHS tests.
But, most importantly, you don’t get a second glace from anyone else on the road. I pulled in with my family to a sketchy Arby’s with a trailer park in the rear. But we were hungry. And a Jamocha shake wins out over elevated situational awareness. Who is going to give problems to or question the family in the Kia? If it were a fully-loaded Mercedes, that may be a different story. However, we were enjoying three-pointed star luxury on the inside. I’m sold on this lotterymobile heavy-tech-armed Q-Ship.