Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

New Kia Sorento sings a different tune

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"A lot ot of our current Sorento clients are looking forward to test-driving our new 2014 Sorento," says Birchwood Kia West sales team leader Ryan Eyer of the model that arrived in dealer showrooms on March 12.

"There are big changes in the design, with new-look front and rear ends and a lot of changes inside."

Eyer and Winnipeg's other Kia sales reps got a preview of the new 7-seat crossover SUV -- along with the 2014 Forte and Rondo -- at a ride-and-drive at the Assiniboia Downs parking lot the day before the new Sorentos were delivered to dealer showrooms. Eyer said he came away very impressed with the new model, noting the biggest difference under the hood between the 2014 Sorento and its predecessor is its new FlexSteer system, an electric power-steering system that allows the driver to adjust the suspension on the fly.

"More aggressive drivers can switch to Sport mode from Normal, while more conservative motorists can adapt the vehicle for Comfort mode," he said.

The 2014 Sorento is available in LX, LX V6, EX, EX V6, SX, and SX Limited trim levels. The LX and EX models are powered by a direct-injection, 2.4-litre 4-cylinder engine generating 191 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 181 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,250 rpm.

A new 3.3-litre V-6 engine is optional for the LX and EX, and standard for the SX and SXL trims. It generates 290 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 252 lb.-ft. of torque at 5,200 rpm. It's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and is offered with front- or all-wheel drive.

The 2014 model has new LED running lights and taillights which are a noticeably different shape from earlier models. As well, drivers can choose from 17-inch, 18-inch or 19-inch aluminum wheels, depending on the trim selected.

Eyer noted that has Kia scrapped the bar that used to sit in the center of the Sorento's panoramic sunroof. The 2014 model also comes with a redesigned instrument panel, which can accommodate the new eight-inch infotainment touch-screen display. All trim levels except the base Sorento LX are equipped with a Thin Film Transistor (TFT) center gauge display, flanked by traditional gauges.

New for 2014 is the SX Limited (SXL) trim level, which includes self-leveling xenon headlights, 19-inch chrome wheels, red-painted brake calipers, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, premium headliner and roof pillar trim, and exclusive Nappa leather upholstery.

The new Sorento starts at just under $30,000 (including freight and pdi).

Eyer noted that the new Forte will be arriving in two or three weeks, with the new Rondo coming shortly thereafter.

New Explorer Van introduced

Jim Gauthier Cadillac Buick GMC has acquired the Explorer Van line for Manitoba.

"We have obtained the exclusive right to sell this product in the province," said Gauthier's Jason Cross. "This high-end, high-quality conversion van complements our existing line-up of Cadillac, Buick and GMC products."

The van is being made for General Motors by a family-owned firm in the United States, Cross said, adding that it's been in production for more than 30 years.

The van seats up to nine passengers with 36 per cent more interior space than an average full-size SUV. The model is driven by a 310 hp Vortec engine that produces 325 ft.-lbs. of torque and gets up to 11.8 lL/100 km (20 mpg) on the highway. The towing capacity is up to 2,860 kg (6,300 pounds).

Inside, passengers are bathed in soft ambient lighting while the driver is aided by high-tech electronic systems that include StabiliTrak (which adjusts brake pressure and engine torque to enhance control), a backup camera and optional navigation system.

Cross noted that the van also sports a 26-inch Vizio HD TV system that includes a blu-ray player, wifi app and HDMI component.

The north Winnipeg dealership introduced the model at the recent RV show, and Cross said it met with a very positive response.

"The great thing about the Explorer Van is that the manufacturer can adapt your van to meet all of your specifications no matter whether for family vacations, snowbirds, wheelchair access and other special needs or commercial use," he said. "From start to finish, we can have the van back to you within six weeks.

"The Explorer Van is the ultimate roadtrip vehicle."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 22, 2013 E10

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