Kia Sorento Turbo SXL AWD Review: Smooth and Sportmatic

Kia Sorento Turbo Sxl Awd Is Smooth, Sporty, Stylish.
The Kia Sorento Turbo SXL AWD is smooth, sporty, stylish and comfortable. Credit: Shannon Entin for AGirlsGuidetoCars.

Smooth shifting and safe winter driving in the Kia Sorento Turbo SXL.

I’ve driven several different cars in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, but none have been as smooth and sporty – while simultaneously tackling Old Man Winter – as the Kia Sorento Turbo. I had the opportunity to spend a few weeks in a 2016 Kia Sorento Turbo SXL AWD during a winter road trip through Colorado and Utah. For years my family has taken ski trips, flying into Denver and driving the familiar Route 70 West to whatever ski resort was on tap for that year. This involves an elevation change of about 4,300 feet and I can confidently say that this crossover SUV has handled it better than any car I’ve driven.

Many cars drag or jerk in a noticeable gear change when climbing up in elevation. Not once did I feel the lurch of a gear shift in the Kia Sorento. So smooth!

And the Sorento handles beautifully in the snow. We hit a bit of bad weather – it’s almost unavoidable in the Rocky Mountains – and had about an hour of wind-blown, icy, snow-packed road to get through. But I never felt my control of the car slip. It’s loaded with safety features that make it perfect for winter driving – full-time all-wheel drive, ABS, traction control, electronic stability control, and all the airbags you’d need.

Kia Sorento Turbo Sxl Awd Handles Beautifully In Wintry Weather.

The Sorento handles beautifully in the snow. Credit: Shannon Entin for AGirlsGuidetoCars.

Tons of features. Standard.

Speaking of features, Kia packs the Sorento SXL with a sweet list of welcome conveniences. My favorite? The heated steering wheel. I also loved:

  • Blind spot detection
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • 8″ Navigation display
  • Rear camera
  • Rapid charge USB ports in the front and back seats
  • Memory driver’s seat position
  • Seat warmers/coolers
  • Panoramic sunroof
  • Hands-free power liftgate
  • Sun shades on back passenger windows
  • Tire pressure monitoring

In my day-to-day, I drive a 2009 SUV that is bare bones, so you can typically find me giggling with delight when I test drive a new car and discover a new feature. This happened with the Sorento’s tire pressure monitoring system. I got in the car one morning to find the dashboard lit up like this:

2016 Kia Sorento Turbo Sxl Awd

Tire pressure monitoring that’s easy to read. Credit: Shannon Entin for AGirlsGuidetoCars.

SO cool!! My car has a tire pressure signal, but I need to check the pressure on all four tires to determine which tire is low and just how low. The Kia Sorento showed me exactly what tire needed attention, and I knew immediately that with a reading of 31, it was just the frigid air and not a problem with the tire leaking.

Add-on features included cozy leather seating and the SXL Technology package offering Xenon HID headlights, electronic parking brake, surround view monitor, lane departure and forward collision warning systems, and smart cruise control – a feature I added to my wish list for my next car!

Another item on my wish list: memory seat position. Once I got settled in and adjusted the tilt and telescopic steering wheel and seat position, the Sorento remembered my settings and put me right in place when I got back in the driver’s seat. The dashboard was a pleasure, too. Everything was easy to find and accessible.

2016 Kia Sorento Turbo Sxl Awd

The dash and cockpit in the Sorento are comfy and accessible. Credit: Shannon Entin for AGirlsGuidetoCars.

Can we talk shifting?

The Kia Sorento’s Sportmatic shifting offers a manual option for times when you want to get your kicks and feel the car’s power. Simply move the shifter into the sidegate to the left and when you want to manually shift, tap it toward the plus or minus signs. This is a fun little feature for people like me who don’t know how to drive a stick shift but want to play with manually shifting gears. I got a few more giggles trying out Sportmatic on the open road!

2016 Kia Sorento Turbo Sxl Awd

Choose between manual and automatic shifting in the Kia Sorento. Credit: Shannon Entin for AGirlsGuidetoCars.

What we loved

  • Smooth gear shifting / Sportmatic shifting
  • Superior winter handling / full time AWD
  • Heated steering wheel and seat warmers
  • Comfort: leather seating and ample back seat leg room
  • Panoramic sunroof
2016 Kia Sorento Turbo Sxl Awd

Panoramic sunroof is an awesome feature for road trips! Credit: Shannon Entin for AGirlsGuidetoCars.


2016 Kia Sorento Turbo Sxl Awd

Cozy leather interior makes for superior comfort. Credit: Shannon Entin for AGirlsGuidetoCars

What You Need to Know

  • The interior is very roomy. We were extremely comfortable with two adults and two teens in the car, and 7 pieces of luggage
  • The heated steering wheel can get almost uncomfortably hot – so be aware and turn it off as soon as your hands feel warm
  • Base price is $41,700; price for the model I drove with tech package is $45,390
  • Gas mileage comes in at 22 MPG
  • Takes regular gasoline
Monroney For Kia Sorento Turbo Sxl Awd

Monroney of the Kia Sorento Turbo SXL AWD. Credit: Shannon Entin for AGirlsGuidetoCars.

Note: Kia provided the Sorento for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.

Feeling most at home when on the road, Shannon Entin grew up under the impression that the highest form... More about Shannon Entin