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2003 Kia Sorento Review
Making Kia a competitor.
Reviewed by Automotive on
The 2003 Kia Sorento starts as a brand-new SUV from the Korean carmaker. The Kia Sorento debuted at the 2002 Chicago Auto show to much applause. This improved on the showing Kia had made up to this point in America. The Kia Sorento serves as a larger and more powerful version of the Kia Sportage, a vehicle that only impresses the American market up to a point.
The Kia Sorento launched in South Korea in February 2002, before reaching dealerships in America in September. The Kia Sorento sells in the U.S. market in two trims: the LX base and the top-of-the-line EX. The Kia Sorento pits against the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder, and Toyota Highlander, a challenge the Sorento handles head on. Kia enjoyed a 39-percent increase in sales after the introduction of this amazing SUV.
Engines: 3.5-liter V-6 engine
Transmissions: fiver-speed automatic
Models: Kia Sorento EX, Kia Sorento LX
The 2003 Kia Sorento provides a new SUV from Kia. It serves as a larger version of the Sportage, which went into hibernation in the 2003 before a new model released in 2004.
The Kia Sorento uses a body on frame structure with a ladder frame to give the vehicle better stability when driving on and offroad. The vehicle measures 179.8 inches long and rides on a 106.7-inch wheelbase. The track width seems quite large at 62.1 inches, giving the Sorento a lot of extra stability. The Kia Sorento comes fitted with a short front and rear overhang that gives it better maneuverability when going up and down steep terrain. All models include 16-inch Michelin tires, a side-opening rear hatch, and a spare tire under the vehicle. The EX also includes a sunroof, alloy wheels, fog lamps, and two-tone body cladding.
In terms of features, the LX starts with power windows, door locks, and mirrors. The EX adds a standard power sunroof and remote keyless entry.
The interior of the 2003 Kia Sorento comes packed with features. This SUV includes room for five occupants. A rear seat with a flip and fold 60/40-split tucks away in the floor, allowing more cargo space without having to remove the back seat. All models include 66.4 cubic feet of cargo space with the back seat folded away.
The LX base model includes standard features such as air-conditioning, cruise control, and an eight-speaker CD audio system. The EX comes with an eight-way adjustable driver’s seat, an overhead compartment, a Homelink universal garage door opener, and a Delphi CD/cassette stereo system with 10 speakers. Options include leather upholstery for the interior. An EX Luxury Package adds a 280-watt, in-dash, six-disc CD player; steering wheel audio controls; automatic climate control; leather seats; and a leather-wrapped wood-grain steering wheel.
Performance & Handling
The Sorento comes equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that produces 192 horsepower and 217 lb-ft of torque. It pairs with a four-speed automatic transmission. The Sorento offers a part-time four-wheel-drive system that drivers control with a knob on the dash, allowing him or her to shift according to the driving conditions. A torque on demand system for tugging heavy loads remains available on the EX model when fitted with the luxury package. This system operates automatically. The vehicle also comes with an Eaton limited-slip differential that transfers torque between the two back wheels when necessary.
The 2003 Kia Sorento represents one of the best-performing vehicles in the Kia lineup. The Sorento proves competent on the asphalt as well as offroad. The automatic transmission seems pretty good, although it sometimes falters.
The 2003 Kia Sorento has a mixed safety score. The NHTSA gives the Kia Sorento four out of five stars for driver and passenger protection, but five out of five stars for front and rear side impacts. It only receives three out of five stars for rollovers. The IIHS gives the Sorento a grade of ?Acceptable,? its second best rating, for frontal-offset collisions, but a grade of ?Poor? for side-impact tests, as well as rear crash protection and head-restraint quality.
EPA Fuel Economy
Kia Sorento EX: 14/18 mpg city/highway
- Great value
- Lots of standard features
- Solid build
- Off-road capability
You Won't Like
- Weak engine
- Subpar fuel economy
- Bad seat upholstery for the price
Making Kia a competitor.
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