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Heels on Wheels - 2013 Kia Sorento Review

2013 Kia Sorento (select to view enlarged photo)

By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

A more rugged mid-size SUV, the Kia Sorento is on point with price, interior comforts and constructional frame changes that have resulted in a more refined ride for up to seven passengers. Another bonus is gas estimates remain both eco- and budget-conscious at just 21 miles-per-gallon city and 27 highway under an impressive 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine.

I drove a 2013 Kia Sorento with the larger 276-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine with front-wheel drive paired to a six-speed automatic transmission featuring Sportamatic for clutch-free manual shifting. Available in three trims (LX, EX and SX), a four-cylinder or V6 engine, and optional all-wheel drive with a lockable center differential, my mid-level EX trim came with the following standard equipment: leather upholstery; eight-way power driver’s seat; three-setting heated front seats; dual-zone climate control; black wood trim; XM radio; steering-wheel mounted controls; Bluetooth; UVO Powered by Microsoft; auxiliary and USB audio input jacks; trip computer; backup warning system; seventeen-inch wheels; and heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signal. Optional equipment and packages included an upgraded Infinity audio system, navigation, and a sunroof. Total vehicle price came to $34,390.

What makes the Kia unique is that it’s a smaller 3-row SUV. Main competitors to the Kia Sorento are in the dozens, with the Mazda CX-9 and Toyota RAV4 and meeting most closely mirroring the same value, space and style attributes.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: While Kia continues to be an attractive choice for its sleek designs and generous standard features at the base trim, my mid-level EX is a recommended choice as it adds some essentials like leather seats, a better climate control system and Kia’s connectivity system called UVO Powered by Microsoft. Short for “Your Voice,” this voice-recognizing infotainment system streamlines calls, text messages and music from all your media sources. There is some displacement of center stack controls and poor lighting at the gearshift.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2013 model ratings of “Good” in frontal, side impact and roof strength crash tests, making it a Top Safety Pick. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Sorento a 4-Star rating. Safety standards include an advanced airbag system, electronic stability control, traction control, electronic brake distribution, hill assist control, downhill brake control, LATCH and rear child-safety door locks.

Cost Issues: A base or Kia Sorento LX begins at $23,150. A fully loaded Sorento SX ready to tow will remain under $38k.

Activity & Performance Ability: Much more impressive that former years, the Sorento’s switch to a unibody frame aids in smoother handling and quieter cabin ride. Towing capacity is 3,500 pounds with the V6 engine. The vehicle is roomy inside with an easy to park traditional boxy shape. Turning radius was better than expected. Overall, it is a very steady drive with excellent safety measures in tack – yet not as agile, quick and light as the Mazda CX-9.

The Green Concern: Under the 3.5-liter V6 engine, fuel economy is 20-city and 26-highway for an average of 22 miles-per-gallon, while all-wheel drive gets 18-city and 24-highway for a combined 20.

The 2013 Kia Sorento differs from your typical mid-size utility vehicle by combining sporty, efficient and value-driven qualities for a three-row crossover that can meet all budget and capability needs.

©2012 Katrina Ramser