From the luxurious Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego to the family-centered Courtyard Marriott Camarillo and tons of stops in between, we took the Kia Sorento SXL on an unforgettable, family-friendly road trip thanks to Kia. While fall usually means cool days and changing leaves, in SoCal it’s still sunshine and changing tides. Our coastal Southern California road trip included ultimate luxury at Fairmont Grand Del Mar, Halloween spirit at Legoland, beach views with a twist at Santa Monica Pier, and high-flying delights in Camarillo. Come along for the ride and we’ll show you what fall looks like in Southern California through the headlights of a Kia Sorento SXL.
Our road trip began in Aliso Viejo. We packed the Sorento and headed toward the Fairmont Grand Del Mar. I immediately noticed the pep of the V6 engine, the vented driver’s seat, and the amply storage compartments in the front. I always look for a good place to put my phone.
Athena appreciated the integrated 2nd row window sunshades. She is great on road trips. She would happily sit in the back seat singing and playing on her own for hours, but when the hot sun is on her or in her eyes, she complains. I know it’s a legitimate complaint but there isn’t much I can do usually. I’ve even seen myself pull over and put my sweater in the window to block the sun only for her to complain that it’s waving in her face. The 2nd-row sunshades in the Sorento saved me from hearing endless complaints. I can manage without certain features in a car, but what is more dangerous than driving without any features is driving with an annoyed, vocal child. Thank you, Kia, for thinking of the little things. Whoever added this feature must be a parent.
We arrived at Fairmont and pulled up to the valet. It was the last time we’d need the Sorento for the next two days. Everything we needed was at our fingertips.
The Fairmont Grand Del Mar delivers every indulgence, including impeccable service, a Five-Star spa, a Tom Fazio-designed golf course, and San Diego’s most acclaimed fine dining restaurant, Addison. We utilized the onsite nanny services so we could visit the spa, relax in the adult-only pool, and dine at Addison. Then, as a family, we hiked to a waterfall, walked along the beach, and splashed in the three family pools.
We didn’t get back in the Kia Sorento until it was time to visit Legoland. Cord drove and I happily rode in the passenger seat. It’s rare that I’m not driving when Athena and I go on a road trip, but when I’m not, I’m eternally grateful. I love being able to look around and enjoy the new sights. I’m use to the obstructed side window view, but the panoramic sunroof of the Kia Sorento opens up a whole new world and the views above are my favorite ones. The 28 minute drive seemed like seconds.
Legoland was celebrating their Brick or Treat Party Nights, making the park extra busy. We only had time for a handful of rides during the day so we chose wisely. Some of Athena’s favorites are: Ninjago, Driving School, Fire Academy, Fairy Tale Brook, Beetle Bounce, and Wave Racer.
At 5 pm, Legoland was transformed into a not-too-spooky Halloween party featuring a Ghost Cruise adventure, a theater show in Castle Hill, a dazzling animated Spirits of Brick-or-Treat light show, a LEGO pumpkin patch building activity, costume contests, treat stations with specialty items including a LEGO commemorative Brick, roaming candy carts throughout the Park, and two bonus treat stations inside SEA LIFE Aquarium.
Many of the treat stations were around Miniland USA, giving us a chance to explore it from a completely different perspective in the dark. At every station, they put a handful of candy in our bags and we snacked on a few treats before calling it a night. We went for Athena but we enjoyed the park and Brick or Treat just as much. It’s a beautiful thing to experience such amazing events through my own eyes and through the eyes of a child. It’s like I get to experience it twice.
Our time at Fairmont Grand Del Mar came to an end the next morning. The 100 mile drive from San Diego to Playa del Rey gave us plenty of time to appreciate the drive-assist technologies of the Kia Sorento like Surround View Monitor, Lane Departure Warning, Advance Smart Cruise Control, and Blind-Spot Detection.
One feature that I hoped I’d never have to use came in handy during the drive. Sorento’s Forward Collision Warning System employs front-mounted radar to detect a potential collision with the car in front, and it provides the driver audible warnings and visual signals on the meter display. I didn’t think I’d need this one. I’m a cautious driver who never tailgates, but while on the 405 freeway, I was trying to exit the commuter lane and it was just too busy. Cars were stacked up one after another. I was continuously checking my side mirror for cars while watching the car in front of me. While doing a side mirror check, I heard the warning system and immediately looked ahead. The car in front of me hit the breaks hard to avoid a blown tire on the road and the warning system gave me enough time to avoid rear-ending him. Sometimes it frightens me how quickly an accident can happen. I hope it’s rare that I have to use the Forward Collision Warning System, but it’s definitely a life-saving feature.
We spent the night in Playa del Rey before visiting Pacific Park at Santa Monica Pier. Pacific Park is the West Coast’s only amusement park located on a pier. Millions of visitors each year enjoy all the rides, games, and fun you’d expect from one of Southern California’s leading attractions.
Ride after ride, Athena smiled with her entire face. Now that she’s tall enough to ride the roller coaster, we both had an adventurous afternoon filled with excitement and joy. Even if you don’t get a wristband to experience the rides at Pacific Park, there is plenty to see and do on the pier. A typical afternoon there is filled with unique performers and stunning vistas.
It wasn’t until we arrived in Camarillo that I truly appreciated the Surround View Monitor system of the Sorento. The Surround View Monitor system offers a near all-around view in several viewing modes displayed on the Navigation monitor. Displaying real-time images from four cameras, the Surround View Monitor provides a virtual ‘bird’s eye’ view, affording maximum convenience for parking and low-speed maneuvers.
Many places in Camarillo have free parking which is a rare commodity in Southern California. While visiting Camarillo Ranch House, we had to park on the side of the street. I found a small spot close by but it meant that I needed to parallel park. The Surround View Monitor system guided me in better than someone standing outside of the vehicle and I knew exactly how much space I had between vehicles. I wouldn’t have attempted to park there without the system. It made all parking simple regardless of the location.
Our next stop was Channel Islands Aviation where we gave up our wheels for wings. Athena and I enjoyed an hour-long scenic flight over the Camarillo area. My eyes are always in the sky and Athena has the same love for all forms of flight. The last time I was in Camarillo airport was when I was jumping out of a plane. I had a lot less to think about on this flight. I could sit back and enjoy the sights.
Tomorrow we will return home to complete our 350 mile trip around Southern California with the 2017 Kia Sorento SXL. It kept us safe when traffic faltered, it guided us into spots, and it protected us from the sun. I’m sad that our trip is coming to an end, but I’m even more sad to return the Kia Sorento SXL.