First Drive|2015 Kia Sorento SXL

Sun, 08/24/2014 - 07:28

Summertime is meant for road trips. In July, I traveled home to North Carolina to visit with my parents. The nearly seven-hour drive is a good way to decompress, and it’s equally good for getting to know a vehicle in real world conditions. Thankfully, Kia didn’t mind me putting an extra 1,000 miles on its brand-new Sorento SXL.

Traveling the open road – from D.C. to North Carolina

The drive is pretty boring if you take the route I normally do from DC to Western NC (I-95 to I-85 to I-40). LOTS of “I’s” in there, and even more stretches of bumpy concrete that can quickly transform you into a driving zombie.

Not to worry; the Sorento came with SIRIUSXM satellite radio to carry me through those dry stretches. The surround sound system by Infinity helped keep me jamming to my favorite tunes on the way to NC. (Confession: 90’s on 9 is my go-to station for nostalgic beats. Whether rock alternative, R&B, hip hop or pop – I love it all!)

Cruising down the highway was a cinch with the Sorento. There was very little wind and road noise at highway speeds. Without purposely driving efficiently, I garnered a fuel economy of 26.1 mpg on the first leg of the trip, slightly higher than the EPA estimated 25 mpg. Around town I still did well, achieving 23.7 mpg. The EPA estimate for city driving in the 2015 Sorento is 18 mpg.

Advanced safety features like Kia’s Blind Spot Detection System (BSDS) alerted me whenever there was a car out of view on either side of the vehicle. There is a light that blinks orange in the side view mirrors to indicate a passing vehicle that you may not see. I found the alert to be helpful and not a nuisance as some systems can be with all the dings, pings and blinking lights.

2014-07-23-12-26-20-150x150-2126732-8770710-9447786But, alas, even the most enthusiastic road trippers need a break on a drive as long as this one, right? In stepped my favorite fried chicken and biscuit establishment – Bojangles’. Nothing gets me juiced up and ready to conquer life (or simply the rest of this dreadful drive) than a BoJo’s iced tea (it’s presumed sweet down South) and a cajun filet biscuit. Mmm mmm good. If you know nothing else about me, you should know that I WILL introduce you to Bojangles’ if I have the chance. Now, back to the car.

On the hunt for furniture in NC with the 2015 Kia Sorento

North Carolina and furniture are pretty much synonymous. I grew up in the nation’s capital of hand-crafted furniture and textiles. Those jobs have mostly gone abroad today, but what remains are extraordinary furniture and consignment shops selling affordable (and well-made) pieces. Kind of like the story of the Kia Sorento.

It didn’t take long to find some antique twin beds that I think will look fabulous painted up and used in a kid’s bedroom someday. (Confession: If I weren’t writing about cars, I’d love to write about interior design!) With a flip of the rear seats (both rows) forward, the bed frames and their matching slats fit in the back of the Sorento without any trouble.

Make your antiquing dreams a reality in the Sorento. It’s a stylish, functional hauler.

Overall Impressions 

The 2015 Sorento SXL houses a 3.3L V6 GDI (gas direct injection) engine that’s plenty powerful for the long haul. The engine, combined with a 6-speed automatic transmission and Kia’s Sportmatic drive system made for smooth acceleration and a quiet ride. I’d even go as far to call the ride relaxing.

The Sorento offers a smooth ride, and its super-sized panoramic roof is sure to brighten anyone’s day with the press of a button. I was surprised at just how comfortable the seats in the Sorento were. As a taller driver, I often get back pain and fatigue after a few hours in seats that are too wide for my frame.

The interior is plush considering how affordable this 7-seater SUV is. Kia did not compromise on finishes and creature comforts. The front seats are perforated leather, increasing the functionality of heating and ventilation for the driver and front passenger.

I thought the 19-inch chromed-out wheels looked nice next to the Sorento’s ‘Snow White Pearl’ paint, especially with the pop of red from the brake calipers. Others may find these wheels way too flashy. I might agree if I saw the wheels paired with a Sorento in a different paint scheme.

2015 Kia Sorento props open its liftgate, ready for the next adventure.

As expected from Kia, the price tag reflects a lot of bang for one’s buck. At $40,000, Kia has positioned the 2015 Sorento well between luxury-brand options, such as the BMW X5, Infiniti QX70 and the Audi Q7, and its classmates, the Hyundai Santa Fe Limited, Toyota Highlander, and Ford Explorer.

It can still be challenging to get friends and family to consider driving a Kia over a brand they’re more familiar with, but to me, it’s at least worth a test drive comparison, not to mention a pocket-book comparison.

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