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2011 Kia Sorento EX AWD - Review

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2011 Kia Sorento EX


SEE ALSO: Kia Buyers Guide

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2011 Kia Sorento EX


• Engine: 3.5-liter V6
• Horsepower/Torque: 276 hp @ 6,300 rpm/249 lb.-ft. @ 5,000 rpm
• Transmission: 6-speed automatic with manual mode
• Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
• Length/Width/Height: 183.9 x 74.2 x 67.3 in.
• Tires: P235/60R18
• Cargo volume: 9.1/37.0/72.5 cu. ft. (3rd row seats up/down/3rd and 2nd row seats down)
• Fuel economy: 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway/16.5 mpg test
• Fuel capacity: 18.0 gal.
• Curb weight: 3,704 lbs.
• Sticker: $34,840 (includes $795 inland freight and handling, $4,950 in
options ($2,000 navigation/camera display, $2,700 sunroof, leather heated
seats, $250 EC mirror with compass and Homelink))

Five reasons to buy this car
1. Very good crossover
2. Spacious
3. Good power
4. Very good ride quality
5. Comfortable

The Bottom Line: The crossover segment has replaced the station wagon market segment, and the Kia Sorento is one of the reasons. It's roomy and comfortable, yet it has the carrying capability of all but the monster wagons of the 1970s, with the added advantage of all wheel drive, better handling and economy.

Replace a minivan, which has become non-cool to the latest generation of young parents, and mix it with a sport utility, which is sporty but in general not very utilitarian, throw in some station wagon features, and you end up with a crossover, that strange vehicle that knows no other definition. One of the better crossovers today is the Kia Sorento, which is really more of a minivan, but don't tell the naysayers.

To say I'm impressed with the Sorento is an understatement. I liked it very much and we used it a lot during the week it was parked in my driveway. We were unable to take it on long trips out of state, but still it served us well. The only problem we had was with the fuel economy, which was 16.5 mpg in our test. This was surprisingly low since we did take some long trips, just not super-long ones.

As with most crossovers, the cargo capacity is excellent. With all three rows of seats in place, there's a cozy 9.1 cubic feet of cargo behind the third row. Drop the second row, which makes sense for families of four or less, and cargo capacity increases to a nice 37.0 cubic feet. This is enough for all the luggage that mythical family of four or less should need for any decent-length vacation. I said "should" because our family of five filled a full-size van for many years.

Third-row seating is essentially useless anyway and should only be used in emergencies. Front seats are comfortable with decent side support. The second row seats are flat with good leg and knee room. The bench seat is wide enough to carry three passengers.

Sorento's 3.5-liter V6 engine delivers very good power for a fairly large vehicle that weighs 3,704 pounds. Powering all four wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission, with a manual mode if you need it, there's enough to allow you to get up to ambient highway speed as soon as needed. There are also four-wheel disc brakes if you have to stop the Sorento.

There's a full assortment of goodies on teh Sorento, including Electronic Stability Control, a locking center differential for serious off-roading, ABS, traction control, downhill brake control, hill assist control, and a tire pressure monitoring system. Still, with AWD and everything else, we fishtailed on acceleration from a stop. Granted, there was "surprise" ice, but it came unexpectedly.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2011 Kia Sorento EX

I liked the lighted controls on the steering wheel. So often you're fumbling around in the dark trying to find the audio, cruise control or Bluetooth switches. That's as dangerous as texting while driving. Well, almost.

With a pushbutton start, the Sorento gets up and going quickly. The navigation system was easy to program and had a clear map. The HVAC system was good in bitter cold weather but it could have heated faster. Fortunately, we had heated seats which warmed the larger parts of our bodies faster.

Even though it was dead winter, we could still enjoy what sun there was through a double sunroof that shone on front and second-row passengers.

A feature I liked as much as anything with the Sorento is that it was assembled in the United States with 58 percent US and Canadian parts content. Sine that's over 50 percent, it could almost be classified as an American car.

2011 The Auto Page