I was recently invited to have a turn at the brand new 2016 Kia Sorento on the wildly beautiful winding roads of Lake Tahoe.  This was my first ‘ride and drive’ with Kia, and I must say, they take their fun very seriously!

I don't always jingle, but when I do...I jingle all the way.

I don’t always jingle, but when I do…I jingle all the way.

We were warmly welcomed at the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe and settled in to get to know each other over mega-Jenga, Kia cookie decorating and marshmology – in the form of piping hot s’mores crafted over open fire pits.


Giant Jenga. Evidently, I’ve got skills. :D



My marshmallogy creation.

After dinner saw the ping pong, darts and Jenga competition get more serious and I honed my single-handed block pulling to an art. The ugly Christmas sweater workshop was in full swing, and sequins and tacky garland were de rigueur.


Welcome dinner at the Ritz, Lake Tahoe


Full swing Ugly Sweater Contest Line-up – Impressive!

Day two began with a rapid-fire intro to the fully buffed-out third generation Sorento; probably because they knew we were anxious to get in them! I learned, mainly, that Kia does not produce a bare bones vehicle, no bones about it. In fact, I was a bit surprised at the level of luxury and you can now aspire to in their upper range models, and abundant tech in all models.


First look, 2016 Kia Sorento

A few more surprises for me about Kia the company and the Sorento in particular stood out:

  • Kia was named 2014 Best Value Brand by none other than the people at Kelly Blue Book, who know something about vehicles holding their value!
  • Celebrating their 20th year, Kia sold their 5 millionth car in April 2014.
  • Already manufacturing vehicles on U.S. soil in West Point, Georgia, their second North American manufacturing plant will open in 2016.
  •  The Sorento is the first Kia built in the U.S.
  • Kia has garnered recognition both as a green global brand and on the very competitive race track (where I’d love to see it for myself!)

We test drove both the turbo model and the beefy and fully appointed V6. On a healthy straight-away, the amazingly quiet interior and smooth ride masked the sound of the powerful engine and any road bumps.  I had to glance down to realize my speed, though my driving partner reminded me that the ticket would be mine. :} But Kia was paying for my meals!


Heading out in the fully loaded V6 Kia Sorento


We overtook them :)


Picturesque old barn in outside of Lake Tahoe. Not bad for 55mph.

I wish I had more time just tinkering with the dashboard and all of the techy bells and whistles such as Blue Tooth, Homelink, Satellite radio, driver seat memories and other customizable features on this beautiful new vehicle. It has a lot of comfort and convenience components but also impressive safety features that come standard.


Whatever new tech-laden car you take home these days, my strong recommendation is: know thy vehicle. If you get a new car every three to five years (likely more), the leaps and bounds in standard technology and equipment will outrun your knowledge quickly, unless you’re a gear-head or tech-intuitive.

I am neither of these, and I suspect (kinda hope?) many of you feel a bit outrun by the pace of tech developments.  Fear not, like a fully stocked Genius bar, the best auto dealers are well equipped to tutor you in your new car…well, equipment!


Lake Tahoe view through the pines.


Sorento row in Reno.


Brunch stop at Graeagle Meadows Golf Course, beautifully shrouded in mist.

Our tour de Sorento took us through Reno, Nevada, so I contacted the awesome customer care team at Tom Dolan’s Reno Kia to inquire about their part in the getting-acquainted process for new car buyers and their tech-loaded Kias.  I love that they assign a Delivery Specialist for each new car buyer.

The interview is below, with their replies in italics and my notes following:

Thank you in advance for taking the time to briefly answer the following questions, and especially highlight your Delivery Specialist program!

My hope is to demystify the new-car buying & owning experience by sharing what resources are available from the Kia dealer to become familiar with these features, and in turn maximize the value and enjoyment of ownership.

1) What are your recommendations for getting to know the tech of your new car, beyond the owner’s manual?

  • We have designated Delivery/Technology specialists to help with just that.
  • We follow up with our customers after their purchase
  • I would also recommend here that after you buy your new car, you follow up with the team at your dealership to get acquainted and familiarized with it even a week or two after your initial take-home. ~ G.S.

2) What exactly is a ‘Delivery Specialist’? How do we get one?

  • The Delivery Specialist ensures that every new KIA owner receives a proper delivery of the vehicle features and controls, with special emphasis on properly educating the customer about the technology in the vehicle.
  • See, this is exactly what I would hope to experience, especially after being fairly well wowed with the advancements in on-board dashboard tech! ~ G.S.

3) Do most dealerships offer “ongoing training” for their customers? What do you specifically offer at Dolan Reno Kia? Is there a time frame for available familiarization coaching?

  • Most dealers do not offer “ongoing training” for customers. One of the advantages of having a DS on staff is that our customers can come back and spend as much time as needed to learn how to operate their new vehicles. Our DS are trained to follow up with the customer after the sale and schedule future appointments for more in-depth classes with the customer if needed.
  • Even if your dealership doesn’t specifically have a Delivery Specialist program, I highly suggest you make an appointment with their service department or sales person after a week or two getting familiar with your new car to delve a bit deeper into the available tech. ~ G.S.

4) What do you find to be the most impressive new tech. feature of the 2016 Kia Sorrento?

  • The surround view feature is neat. Plus the Lane Departure/Forward Collision Warning features are nice.
  • I noticed a lot of safety additions in the tech. arena of the Sorento, yet I still love the idea of the “smart” hatchback that opens up for you when your arms are full of groceries or ski gear. :) ~ G.S.

5) What’s the number one question you wish your customers would ask you before they buy a car / after they buy a car from you?

  • Before: Is there anything special that you or your dealership provides for me if I buy from you?
  • After: Will I be able to come back to you if I forget anything about my car like how something works or if I need a new phone/devices paired?
  • I’m going to assume the answers to both of these questions from Dolan Kia Reno are a resounding: “Yes!”. ~ G.S.

Thank you very much, Dolan team, for taking the time to answer these questions about the evolving new-car buying experience!  When I got my hands and gas foot on this newest Sorento, it was yet to be released, but the 2016s are now available for purchase and I would highly recommend a test drive before you make your SUV buying decision.

Thank you, also to Kia Motors for inviting me to experience first-hand the newest Sorento on the roads of beautiful Lake Tahoe…and for bestowing me with the opportunity to meet your dynamic team and yes…this owl!


Me and Hoot, the famous Harry Potter owl.

And thank you, readers, for coming along on my Tahoe Sorento adventure!  Let me know if you have more questions about my test drive, my (not-so) ugly ‘Jingle All the Way’ sweater, or my killer Jenga skills.


Cocktails help.


Gorgeous winter views over Lake Tahoe after my #SorentoAdventure – on to new ones and who knows where to next?

Unlike usual, most photos are not taken by me, but were taken by Kia co-horts, friends, and official press peeps.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

ejodway February 22, 2015 at 10:15 pm

I could almost taste the Smores!!! <3


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