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SUV Scrappers: 2016 Kia Sorento vs. 2016 Honda Pilot

The 2016 Kia Sorento for sale in Miami isn’t the only SUV to come back to 2016 with a fresh redesign. It’s up against some stiff competition like the 2016 Honda Pilot. While these redesigns present both of these vehicles with some fresh faces, that’s not the main focus of these vehicles. Since they are SUVs, consumers obviously care about the overall performance and the safety, which makes sense since the target demographic for crossovers like these are mainly the family-oriented consumer.

In that case, let’s jump in and see which of these SUVs better fits the requirements related to performance and safety – two elements that an SUV just can’t survive without.

Overall Performance

2016 Kia Sorento Performance

For engine options, the 2016 Kia Sorento has three: a 2.4-liter engine, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and a 3.3-liter V6 engine; all of them come paired to a basic six-speed automatic transmission.


The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine produces 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque and boasts a towing capacity of 2,000 pounds. At best, a Sorento equipped with this engine is able to return an impressive 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.


A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is available with certain trims, producing quite a robust 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to this big increase in power, the towing capacity is also bumped up to 3,500 pounds. The fuel economy is still an impressive 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, thanks to the fuel saving capability of a turbocharged engine.


Finally, a 3.3-liter V6 engine is available and comes standard on the SX trim, available on the EX and SX Limited. This engine produces 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque, 50 more horsepower than the 2.0-liter engine, and eight fewer pounds per feet of torque. The fuel economy is 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, which is still impressive for a V6 engine that generates almost 300 horsepower, with a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds when equipped with AWD.


2016 Honda Pilot

2016 Honda Pilto Performance

The 2016 Honda Pilot has the misfortune of only getting one engine choice across all of its trim levels — even if it is a well-rounded one. The 3.5-liter V6 puts out 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque and comes paired to either a six-speed automatic transmission or a nine-speed automatic transmission, depending on the trim level.

Therefore, this V6 gets two different fuel economy ratings depending on the transmission. Equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission, the Pilot gets a rating of 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, which barely beats the 3.3-liter V6 on the Sorento. From the nine-speed automatic transmission, the city mpg increases to 20 mpg, but highway remains the same.  The addition of AWD yields a maximum towing of 5,000 pounds — which is the same as the Sorento outfitted with a 3.3-liter engine.


So, Let’s Compare…

Naturally, the inclusion of AWD will decrease the fuel-efficiency on both models slightly, but it’s not a big enough difference to compare. What does merit comparision, however, is the performance between the Sorento and Pilot.

It’s obvious that the Pilot is at a disadvantage with its single engine option, but just how much of a disadvantage, exactly? Well, in terms of fuel economy the 2.4-liter returns 1 mpg more city and 2 mpg more on the highway. In terms of power, the Sorento and Pilot’s V6 engines are both neck in neck. While the Sorento boasts 10 more horsepower from this engine, the Pilot has 10 more lb-ft of torque.

Even though the Sorento is clearly the more versatile choice, the engines are all so close in terms of capability, that it’s hard to judge a clear winner. I mean, even the towing capacity is the same for each vehicle when the V6 engines are equipped. That means as far as performance goes, it’s a tie.


Overall Safety

2016 Kia Sorento Safety

In order to determine the safety of these vehicles, let’s check out what they received for government crash tests, and then compare the safety features. That way, you can let the safety be the deciding factor ultimately determining the vehicle you’ll put your family in, which is the way it should be.


Crash Test Scores

Both the 2016 Kia Sorento and Honda Pilot received overall NHTSA government crash test scores of five stars. However, the Sorento got the highest possible five-star rating for overall crash protection. That means it got five stars in both frontal and side crash tests while the Pilot only got four stars in the front crash test and five stars in the side crash test. Only one star off might not seem like a big deal, but it is and the crash score is weighed much more heavily compared to any other category with respect to vehicle safety.

Even though the government crash tests prove that if you want to keep your kids as safe as possible you should pick the Sorento, in turn making it the safer vehicle, it’s still important to take a look at the safety features offered by each entry. Not only to give the Pilot a fighting shot but also to see why the Sorento received such a prestigious safety score.


Safety Features

On the 2016 Kia Sorento, it all starts with patented construction techniques. With these techniques, Kia was able to craft a frame out of industrial-strength adhesives and advanced high-strength steel for above-average body rigidity — which explains the five-star frontal crash test score. On top of that, the Sorento also has adjustable seatbelt anchors so the passengers in the front get a proper fit — and the airbag system has lightning fast responsiveness.



2016 Honda Pilot Interior

While the ACE body structure on the Pilot is supposed to distribute crash energy more evenly throughout the front of the vehicle, it obviously didn’t hold up as well as the Sorento’s frame in government crash testing. What was also probably a game changer (although this is just speculation at this point) is the fact that the Pilot doesn’t have the adjustable seatbelt anchors like the Sorento. So, during the front-crash tests, it didn’t protect passengers as effectively.

And because the government says so – the 2016 Sorento is the safer vehicle.



Both vehicles have technological safety features like blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and brake-assist systems, all of which are pretty much considered a given with 2015 and 2016 models. Therefore, this round is going to have to go to the 2016 Kia Sorento. However, two vehicles with similar performance and one with a better safety score might not be enough to convince some consumers that the Sorento is the better SUV. So, let’s take a look at the price.

The Sorento is offered at a base MSRP of $25,100, more than $5,000 less than the starting MSRP of the 2016 Pilot. Also, spending $5,000 less gets you better fuel economy, along with the versatility of upgrading to AWD capability for less money. While upgrading to the two other engine options is going to cost you money, at least you aren’t stuck with a V6 if you don’t want one — and you know you and your family are as safe as possible.