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How does the 2017 Kia Sorento handle in the snow?

2017 Kia Sorento

2017 Kia Sorento

Admirably. Even without the optional all-wheel-drive system, its front-drive configuration inherently enables this midsize crossover SUV to traverse slick or snowy surfaces without much fuss. That’s because the weight of the engine and transmission are massed over the tires that provide traction.

There’s little substitute for AWD, however, if you live in the Snow Belt or regularly drive unpaved roads. Sorento’s AWD system normally operates in front-wheel drive but automatically sends power as necessary to the wheel having the most traction. The driver can engage a lock mode when conditions warrant that splits the engine power evenly between the front and rear axles. It works at lot speeds to maximize traction.

Given that narrower tires typically cut through standing snow better than wider, Sorento’s base L and LX models will perform best thanks to their 17-inch tires. Grip will be compromised as you progress to the 18s on the EX grades and to the 19s on the SX and SX-Limited.

Among similarly positioned front- and all-wheel-drive midsize crossovers, look to the Honda Pilot, Jeep Grand Cherokee, GMC Acadia, and Ford Explorer for better snow traction. That’s thanks to AWD systems with an edge via selectable terrain modes that maximize traction over certain on- and off-road conditions, including snow.

As with any AWD vehicle, however, remember that its ability to transmit power to all four tires can get you going in snow with surprising alacrity. But that ability to accelerate in the white stuff with little fuss can also impart a false sense of security. AWD itself is of little advantage in turning or stopping of snow-slick surfaces. For proof, just look at all the SUVs that line ditches during snow storms.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]