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2011 Kia Sorento - U.S. Built CUV Review and Road Test

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2011 Kia Sorento

Is the Kia Sorento Your Perfect New Car Match?

2011 KIA SORENTO - U.S.-Built CUV
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

My week long drive in a 7-passenger 2011 Kia Sorento was just two weeks after having been in the 5-passenger Kia Sportage. A good set-up for comparing these two compact utility vehicles (CUV).

The Sorento is Kia’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S. and that’s easily understood as to why, after having had some fun with its impressive power and handling. The Sorento was completely redesigned for 2011 and employs a unibody design offering two engine choices in three trim levels and a choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive. My SX with AWD and V6 power was extremely responsive. The interior is very refined, comfortable and well laid-out. Chicago’s pot holes were soaked up by the suspension and maneuvering the city streets and a few parking structures were done with ease.

Customers can choose between LX, EX and SX trim levels, with pricing beginning at $22,795 for the LX trim. My SX all-wheel drive test car had a base price of $33,895 and totaled $35,890 with options and freight. Standard convenience features include air conditioning, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, SIRIUS® Satellite Radio capabilities with three months complimentary service, MP3 connectivity and Bluetooth® wireless technology and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.

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Exterior features on all three trims include 17-inch alloy wheels with 235/65R17 tires and wheel moldings and body-color heated outside mirrors with integrated LED turn signal indicators. The EX trim offers standard 18-inch alloy wheels fitted with 235/60R18 tires, automatic headlamps, fog lamps (optional on LX trims) and a rear spoiler. Roof Rails are optional for LX models, while EX trims offer the options of 18-inch ultra bright mirror-finish wheels or a panoramic sunroof on the V6 model. The SX trim adds mirror-finish five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome-tip exhaust, body-color wheel well molding, stainless steel under bumper trim accents, sleeker body-color front and rear bumpers and LED tail lamps for a decidedly more upscale appearance.

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With both five- and seven-passenger seating configurations (third row optional), Sorento is very versatile for hauling the family, car-pooling the young ones or hauling cargo. Up to 72.5 cubic feet of space is available behind the front seats and 37 cubic feet behind the second row seat. With the V6 engine the Sorento can tow a 3500 lb. Trailer. (IMG_1782)

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Lots of technology features come standard, including an AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sat audio system with SIRIUS® Satellite Radio, auxiliary and USB audio input jacks for connecting personal MP3 players, and Bluetooth wireless technology connectivity with steering wheel-mounted voice activation controls to enable hands-free operation for all compatible mobile phones. All EX models offer standard push button-start ignition with smart key and rear sonar back-up sensors, available voice-activated navigation, rear view back-up cameras and air ionization purification technology. The SX trim offers the navigation system as standard while also adding an upgraded Infinity® surround sound system with 10 speakers for superior listening enjoyment.

Standard comfort features include air conditioning, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with integrated audio controls, trip computer, rear map pockets, automatic up and down driver's window function, illuminated vanity mirror, EcoMinder™ Indicator, and a second row arm rest with cup holder. The EX trim includes dual automatic temperature control, rear air conditioning (V6 models only) and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. And the SX trims include an automatic dimming rear view mirror with Homelink®, heated front seats, leather seat trim for the first and second rows, stainless steel pedals and a stainless steel sill plate with illuminated scuff trim.

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A number of different option packages are offered depending on model and include a Convenience Package, a Premium Package and a Limited Package.

The 2011 Sorento offers two engines – a 3.5-liter V6 with 276 horsepower and a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 175 horsepower. Both are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission of proprietary design for Kia Motors. Both engines can be mated to either front- or all-wheel-drive configurations, the latter coming with a locking center differential to evenly distribute power to all wheels while operating the vehicle at low speeds during more severe weather conditions. The 2011 Sorento employs a compact and lighter MacPherson strut front suspension and a fully independent multi-link rear suspension.

EPA Fuel Economy estimates for the 2.4-liter engine are 21 city and 29 highway for FWD and 21 city and 27 highway for AWD. The V6 is rated at 20 city and 26 highway for FWD and 18 city and 24 highway for AWD. A manual 6-speed is offered only with the 2.4-liter FWD and is rated at 20 city and 27 highway mpg.

The Sorento was given a 2010 "Top Safety Pick" award by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shortly after its debut. A plethora of standard safety equipment include driver and passenger advanced front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, first and second row side curtain airbags and front active headrests, four-wheel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD). Hill Start Assist Control (HAC) and Downhill Brake Control (DBC) also come standard on all models, Industry-Leading Warranty

The 2011 Sorento is sold by more than 725 U.S. dealers and is covered by Kia's 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty and a five-year/100,000-mile anti-perforation warranty. A five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan also is part of the comprehensive vehicle coverage.

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The Sorento is assembled at Kia's first U.S.-based manufacturing facilities in West Point, Georgia. Production of the 2012 Kia Sorento recently began at KMMG and the updated CUV now offers more power and fuel economy along with other new features. We’ll do full review on the 2012 after we get to drive one.

I mentioned the Sportage and in case you are interested here’s the link to that review as published on The Auto Channel. Click Here


Kia Buyers Guide - Kia Sorento Explore
Kia Sorento Video

© Larry Nutson