Every new delivery of a Kia Sorento should include a Hudson’s Bay Blanket. It would compliment the Sorento’s shelter-in-place personality.
With a heated steering wheel, heated seats, back seat privacy screens, magic lift gate, and seating for seven, the Sorento is a primary residence on wheels.
At $46,695 my top of the line Sorento SX tester is feature rich. A planetarium-sized sunroof lights the tailored interior, leather seats are a study in craftsmanship, and 360 degree camera monitoring keeps watch on the outside world. What better cocoon to take on a cross border safari to Buffalo?
We bee-lined along the QEW, sequestered in the quiet cabin and impressed with the capable Sorento’s 290 horsepower V6 engine. The short wait crossing the border at the Peace Bridge gave time to appreciate the simplicity of the dashboard layout. Proper knobs control climate and music, graphics are stylish, the computer screen vivid, fit and material quality is excellent.
From the Peace Bridge it’s a short sprint to the Marriott Harborcenter, a new contemporary hotel across from the First Niagara Centre, home of the Buffalo Sabres. Within the hotel, three ice rinks are in constant use, during the season you might catch the Sabres practicing or a minor league game in full tilt.
After check in, we jumped back into the Sorento to explore the lakefront. There was an epic windstorm in full bluster as we pulled in to Gallagher Beach State Park to watch a windsurfer hammering into the waves. Since our last visit, new trails, bike paths, boardwalk and piers have sprung up along the Lake Erie shoreline and along the winding Buffalo River. At the Tifft Nature Preserve we took shelter from the wind and photographed the handsome Sorento next to the marsh and trails. All new for 2016, the Sorento is longer and wider, and rides responsively on a firmer platform.
While the Sorento has a slick navigation system, in Buffalo there are natural landmarks to keep you rooted, the lake, the river, beautiful Buffalo City Hall and the famous silos along the waterfront. Buffalo has one of the world’s largest collections of grain elevators, most of them are long out of business but others are finding new life. In November a light show installation turned the Connecting Terminal Grain Elevator into a splash of multi-coloured magic. It lights up every night, a beacon visible for miles.
Another silo destination is RiverWorks where two outdoor rinks host curling and hockey, and indoors a flat track roller rink is home to the Queen City Roller Girls. On Saturday nights watch the elbows fly while you have drinks or dinner rink side. As a counterpoint to all that’s new at RiverWorks, massive grain silos in various states of demolition surround the new buildings. It’s an unapologetic monument to a mighty past. The all-wheel-drive and off-road ready Sorento looked a touch delicate among the mammoth cement silos but was an excellent choice to poke among the ruins on rough terrain, or cruise around the city sightseeing.
At dark we parked the Sorento at the hotel and walked across the street to enjoy $4.00 craft beer at 716 Food and Sport, where basketball and hockey games fill drive-in sized TV screens.
We were on our way to dinner at Marble + Rye at up and coming Genesee Street but took in the pretty views of Canalside first, where winter skating is another lively addition to the revitalized Buffalo Waterfront.
Day two started with breakfast at the carbohydrate lovers Five Points Bakery and Toast Cafe, and then a tour of the historic Colored Musicians Club, where Billie Holliday, Count Basie and many other jazz greats were know to drop in while on tour.
We could have stayed much longer. Buffalo is fascinating and rich in history, and the Sorento an excellent vehicle for unhurried exploring of a city that gets under your skin.
Written by: Kathy Renwald