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2012 Kia Sorento EX AWD Ride and Review By Dan Poler

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2012 Kia Sorento

2012 Kia Sorento EX AWD Review
By Dan Poler
Denver Bureau
The Auto Channel

Introduction / History
In recent years, Kia has done a great job in finding a way to include high-end features in a reasonably priced package. The 2012 Sorento EX AWD is no exception. With a facelift back in 2011, the 2012 model sees only minor upgrades and enhancements to the midsize crossover, including Kia's new "Uvo" voice control interface in some trims. Also new for 2012 is the optional GDI direct-injection setup atop the brand's Theta II engine. Our test vehicle was nicely optioned with Kia's EX package as well as the Premium 1 package, providing leather, power front-row seats, and satellite navigation, amongst other options.

Exterior Appearance
Since the 2011 refresh, the Sorento has had a pleasing look to it, with friendly yet aggressive front-end styling and an overall shape not unlike the Lexus RX (at 60% of the price), rounding back to a cavernous rear opening. Luxury features include integrated fog lamps and power heated mirrors with integrated turn signals that fold at the touch of a button.

Interior Comfort and Styling

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Inside the cabin, the driver and front passenger are treated to comfortable power adjustable seats that look and feel like they came from a vehicle costing tens of thousands of dollars more. The driver receives power adjustable lumbar support and two memory settings. The dashboard is laid out in a logical, easy-to-read manner, with primarily black, white, and red displays, and steering wheel controls are tactile and well arranged. Even the fake black wood trim used in the cabin is pleasing.

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The logic and accessibility of the dash layout seems to end at the navigation and entertainment system, which includes satnav and Sirius satellite radio, This can be a struggle to operate. The small physical buttons and difficult-to-interpret targets on the touchscreen provide a dizzying array of options to choose from. Back-up sensors and camera are a welcome addition when trying to pilot through suburban parking lots.

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The 2nd row seats will fit two adults in reasonable comfort. We were surprised to discover that a rear-facing car seat would only fit in the center of the row, without sufficient
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clearance behind either of the front seats. The 3rd row seats are virtually unusable by anyone larger than a small child, and when raised, they consume nearly all available trunk space.

Whereas other vehicles in this class abound in little storage cubbies, the Sorento limits itself to the typical spots. Trunk space is adequate with the 3rd row seats folded down.

The occasional compromise in material choices is evident in the interior, such as plastic along the windowsills molded to look like leather, and dashboard seams that don't quite align.

The Sorento features extensive safety features including front and rear side airbags for both body and head, traction control, turn signal mirrors, and whiplash protection for the front passengers. IIHS rated the Sorento "good" across the board for front, side, rollover, and rear crash tests.

The security of Kia’s excellent 5/60 basic and 10/100 powertrain warranty should be of comfort to buyers in it for the long haul.

Ride and Handling
The Sorento offers a stable ride thanks to a stiffened suspension that allows it to maneuver corners with confidence and very little body roll. The suspension does transmit bumps quite readily from the pavement, but not unpleasantly so. Road noise is almost always present from the Kumho Solus KL21 tires. The Sorento is decidedly a mild-mannered, on-road vehicle. Although the all wheel drive system's center differential can be locked for off-road situations, dirt road maneuvering will lead to oversteer; the back end tends to want to swing out further than it should.

The GDI upgrade to the base I4 engine is good for 191 hp and 181 ft. lbs. of torque, an upgrade of 16 hp and 12 ft. lbs. of torque over the base variant, and is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The added pep is a benefit when merging onto busy highways, but still expect slow highway merges and some upshifting at highway speeds with hilly terrain. We encountered about 23 mpg combined during the course of our testing.

Steering has a comfortable dead spot in the middle which is great for highway cruising, but picks up quickly, making it easy to over correct.

Kia always finds a way to provide compromise that doesn't feel like compromise, and the trend continues in the neat package that is the Sorento. It's a great choice for a midsize crossover for the urban or suburban family. The crossover abounds with features and nice touches not always found on cars in its category or price range, such as power folding mirrors, memory seats, and proximity key with push start/stop. But, features like this do come with tradeoffs such as cheaper materials in spots and limited off-pavement utility.

2012 Kia Sorento EX AWD

Base Price: $27,650.00
Price as Tested: $32,300.00
Engine Type: Gas Direct Injection 4-cyl
Engine Size: 2.4L
Horsepower: 191
Torque (lb-ft): 181
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic with Sportmatic
Wheelbase/Length (in): 106.3 / 183.9
Curb Weight: 3878
Pounds per HP: 20.3
Fuel Capacity (gal): 18
Fuel Requirement: Regular Unleaded
Tires: Kumho Solus KL21; P235/60R18 102H M+S
Brakes, front/rear: Ventlilated disc / solid disc
Suspension, front/rear: MacPherson strut / Multi-link
Ground clearance (in): 7.5
Drivetrain: All wheel drive; mechanical center differential; descent control
EPA Fuel Economy MPG city/highway/observed: 21/28/23
Towing capacity (lb): 1650

Options and Charges

Premium Package 1: $3,800.00 (leather seating, heated front seats, auto-dimming mirror with Homelink, power folding mirrors, memory driver's seat and mirror position, power passenger's seat, navigation system with SIRIUS traffic, Infinity surround sound audio system, 50/50 split folding 3rd row seat)
Cargo Net: $50.00
Delivery: $800.00