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The 2015 Kia Sorento is a thoroughly modern mid-size crossover, and it's fair to say that while Kia's cars have improved in pronounced steps along the way, the Sorento has gotten there on more of a constant improvement plan. Nearly every year has brought a set of incremental changes.
While a fully redesigned 2016 Sorento already waits in the wings, the 2015 Sorento builds a bit on the extensive makeover it got inside and under the hood last year. when nearly 80 percent of the parts were claimed to be redesigned or new.
Inside, the classy cabin look and feel took a big step in an elegant new direction—one that's now been reiterated in the new Cadenza and K900 sedans. Although its sheetmetal looks essentially the same as it has for the past several years, the Sorento's interior feels fresh and contemporary. It's been relieved of most of the inexpensive-looking plastics that worked well enough for the past few years, and covered in finer, soft-touch materials, polished off with thin, spare metallic trim.
There are some exceptions on the outside. For 2015, the Sorento gets a somewhat different grille design, with either an anodized silver-metal or black mesh look; the lower valance also has been opened up and gets a cross-hatched look, while LED front lamps and projector headlamps have a new look and the available fog lamps have been pushed farther out to the corners.
Most 2015 Sorento models are powered by an all-aluminum 3.3-liter GDI V-6, making 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. A 191-hp, 2.4-liter GDI four-cylinder engine is standard, but likely to be rare--and rightly so, since the V-6 almost matches it on gas mileage, and far outpoints it in pure power. The Sorento delivers its power to the road with the help of a well-sorted six-speed automatic transmission; it's either configured with front-wheel drive or with an enhanced torque-vectoring version of the all-wheel-drive system. The Sorento gets speed-sensitive electric power steering that on some trims is driver-adjustable through a range of three modes (Comfort, Normal, and Sport), to nominal effect. With a more rigid body structure, a front strut-tower brace, and a new independent front suspension with an H-shaped sub-frame cradle--plus new bushings for the multi-link rear suspension--Kia made some major advances in ride quality and responsiveness with last year's revamp.
The 2015 Kia Sorento comes in four versions: LX, EX, SX, and SX-L. LX models are offered in four-cylinder or V-6 versions, while all LX, EX, SX, and SX-L models are equipped with the V-6. The fold-away third-row seat is optional on four-cylinder LX models but standard on the rest of the model line. All-wheel drive is on every model.
All versions get standard Bluetooth, satellite radio, and power features; a panoramic sunroof is a new option. The top Sorento SX Limited adds some of the top-lux features gained by the Optima SX this past year; it includes Nappa leather upholstery, heated rear seats, and a wood-trimmed heated steering wheel, plus a soft-touch headliner. On the outside it’s distinguished by its HID headlamps, red-painted brake calipers and special 19-inch chrome wheels.
Automatic climate control, a rearview camera, and UVO can all be had, bundled together, in the base LX. It's a smartphone-driven setup that can offer Google mapping and helpful functions like service scheduling and a parking-lot finder, all free of charge. For 2015 you no longer have to upgrade to Infinity audio and the enhanced UVO system in order to get navigation.