The 2016 Kia Sorento offers new technology previously unavailable on the Sorento, including vehicle stability control, forward collision warning and smart cruise control. (Photo courtesy Kia/TNS)
Ford and Kia have both made significant advances with their midsize SUVs: the Edge gets a new unibody that dramatically improves chassis stiffness and handling, while the Sorento gets a complete makeover, enough to get it onto the podium for Canadian Car and Utility Vehicle of the Year.
When the opportunity arose to have both at the same time, the comparison seemed obvious. Sure, the Sorento is available with a third-row and the Edge isn’t, but they’re similar in size, with nearly identical cargo capacity, while — oddly given the Sorento’s third-row option — the Edge is just slightly larger overall.
They have similar available powertrains, and are roughly in the same price class, though the Sorento does win on starting price, at $27,495 to the Edge’s $31,049. That base-model Sorento, however, comes with a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder, non-turbo engine. The base Edge has a turbocharged 2.0-litre with 60 more horsepower and nearly 100 pound-feet more torque.
The testers in each, however, were upgraded: the Sorento came with a 3.3-litre normally aspirated V-6 while the Edge had the 3.5-litre V-6.
So, how do they stack up? Each has its strengths and weaknesses, so to break them out seems a logical approach:
The Sorento feels surprisingly quick off the line, but much of that is due to aggressive throttle programming that gives a pleasant kick at the start, but settles back into average V-6 acceleration after that. The Edge has 10 fewer horsepower and two fewer pound-feet of torque, and yet, while it doesn’t quite kick it so hard off the line, it does seem to hold a steadier power curve as it gains speed. The Kia’s initial kick makes it feel more powerful than it is, but it also holds power steady as speed climbs.
Advantage: None, it’s a draw.
The Sorento’s interior volume is quite a bit larger than the Edge’s, even though the Edge is larger outside. Much of that has to do with the way the dash falls away from the occupants, creating a large, airy front row. It doesn’t translate into cargo capacity, however, with the Ford’s maximum just outpacing the Sorento 2,079 litres to 2,066. (Opt not for the third row, however, and Sorento’s cargo capacity grows to 2,088 litres.
Depending on your tastes, you might find the Edge to be a bit rough. It has a very sporty feel on the road, so you feel every little bump more than in the Sorento, which is quite comfortable by comparison. But there’s no free lunch, as you’ll see next.
All that sportiness in the chassis tuning means the Edge handles very sharply. Response to steering input is immediate — some drivers might find it too immediate — and the Edge tracks nicely in curves and feels more sport car than sport ute. Conversely, all that ride comfort in the Sorento makes it feel a bit cushy by comparison, the handling dulled slightly by the soft ride.
While the Edge’s new unibody is a significant upgrade under the skin, the overall design isn’t advanced all that much, and the grille looks very derivative, with similar grilles appearing on Hyundais and Subarus. It doesn’t look nearly as distinctive as the old Edge’s thick bar motif. Sorento, on the other hand, has a very striking front 3/4 pose, with a high-end look to the grille and front facade. It seems to run out of steam by the rear, however, which takes on a bit of a minivan look.
The way Kia has pushed the dash forward really opens up the front row, creating an airiness claustrophobes will love. Both vehicle’s interiors punch above their weight class on execution, as well, with solid construction, excellent attention to detail and eye-pleasing designs. Personally, I hope the Sorento’s dash-forward concept is the way of the future.
Nothing beats being able to talk to your car to minimize distractions. In the Edge, you can push the voice-command button and say something as simple as “I’m hungry” to activate the navigation system’s ability to find restaurants. If you want to change radio stations, push the button and say “First Wave” or “FM 106.1” and the Edge will switch to either First Wave on Sirius or tune the FM tuner to 106.1. Similar commands on Sorento’s UVO system were met with confusion. Both systems will play through Bluetooth and USB and both have on-board music storage capacity. Both also have superb sound.
Ford isn’t yet disclosing official numbers, but since those are from a lab, the real-world numbers are more apropos anyway. The Edge takes it here, with an average of 13.8 l/100km in a mix of city and highway driving. The Sorento, with a similar mix of driving, is sitting at 15.7. Obviously, if the third row is important to you, that will take precedence over a couple litres of fuel every 100 kilometres.
The last word: price
The Sorento wins at both ends of the spectrum. The tester, fairly loaded, is almost $49,000 while the Edge scoots north of 50 to settle in at $53,039. Both have similar features. The base Sorento, with its plain-Jane four, will feel sluggish compared to the Edge’s 2.0-litre turbo. At the top end, they have similar level of features (heated wheel, heated front and rear seats, navigation, etc.). So, with a $5,000 difference…
Neither of these SUVs would look out of place if it was wearing a luxury-brand badge. The Sorento, in particular, compares favourably in style and execution with a couple of Mercedes products recently in the driveway. The availability of a third row is also a bonus — handy, even if it’s just an in-a-pinch kind of seat.
I might prefer the Edge’s sharper handling, but I’d also be buying for our family, who all seemed to prefer the Sorento’s comfy ride. Ultimately though, I’d choose the Edge over the Sorento, mainly because of that crisp handling.
One fly in the ointment for both is the Lincoln MKX. It starts at $47,000, nicely equipped, and matching features to the Edge exceeds it in price only by the freight and delivery charge. Between the three, for the money my choice is the Lincoln.
The Ford Edge, above and right, is just slightly larger than the Kia Sorento. The Edge features an intuitive infotainment system with exceptional voice recognition.