Kia Sorento Origins
Ever since Kia started importing automobiles to the United States almost twenty years ago, it’s had a challenging time convincing American consumers that its cars can compete with higher end manufacturers’ better, more solid industry reputations. Relegated to the status of making cheap cars, Kia struggled to design a car that would appeal to a worldwide audience, particularly within the crucial U.S. market. The Kia Sorento may be the answer.
It’s been a slow road for the Sorento, but it’s gradually gained ground in both vehicle quality and buyer appeal, known now not only for its adaptability both on and off-road, but for its more than capable off-road handling and superior crash test ratings. In fact the 2011 Kia Sorento XM was awarded ""SUV of the Year"" by New Zealand’s Autocar magazine, touted by journalists for its great look and world class engine. The Kia Sorento EX V-6 model also earns an ""Excellent"" rating by American magazine, Consumer Reports from July 2010.About the Kia Sorento
As a crossover midsize sport utility vehicle, the earliest Sorento contains a 3.5-liter V-6 engine balanced with a four-speed automatic transmission. Available in rear-wheel or four-wheel drive, this model from 2003 tops out at 192 horsepower and 217 lb-ft of torque. With an engine that has an EPA rating of 14/18 mpg city/highway, the original Sorento weighs in at just over two tons with a towing capability of 3,500 pounds. Over the ensuing years, Kia continues to fine tune the Sorento’s curb weight, aiming for a decidedly more car-like SUV to enhance buyers’ interests.
With a sticker price that continues to rank among the lowest in its class and across the automotive industry (at $21,500), Kia has sweetened the Sorento’s consumer allure with top safety features and one of the best car warranties in the business. Kia’s 100,000 mile warranty is the stand-alone high water mark in that field, especially since car owners rarely reach the six-figure mileage pinnacle anymore.
As testament to its commitment to driver safety, the 2011 Kia Sorento receives the maximum safety rating from crash test organizations such as the Australasian New Car Assessment Program and its European counterpart. The XM model is singled out for its first-class safety features by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the U.S., as its ""Top Pick"" of the year.Kia Sorento Features
Widely regarded as an excellent choice for a small or midsize SUV crossover vehicle, the 2012 Kia Sorento continues to offer its customers a hard-to-beat combination of competent performance and an affordable price.
With a maximum passenger capacity of seven adults, the newest Sorento comes with more interior standard features than most other SUVs in its class, including air-conditioning, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a 12-speaker Infinity stereo system fitted with CD/USB/iPod compatibility, a navigation system, heated seats, and a moonroof.
New for the 2012 model’s powertrain is a more commanding 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine, capable of delivering 191 horsepower, while the standard engine still has a decent punch for its size and class with output equaling 175 hp and 169 lb-ft of torque. For the ultimate in the Sorento’s engine lineup, customers can opt for the biggest of the lot: a 3.5-liter V-6 that produces 276 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive comes as an option on all three trim levels (LX, EX, and SX).
Standard safety features include an electronic stability system, traction control, an anti-lock braking system, and six cabin airbags.
MSRP for the 2012 Kia Sorento begins at $21,250 and increases to $34,850 for a fully loaded vehicle.Kia Sorento Evolution
With a body chassis based on a ladder-frame design most common in building trucks, the Kia Sorento’s first generation model (2003 to 2009) hit the road with two transmission options: a five-speed manual or four/five-speed automatic transmission. These pair with a 3.5-liter, 24-valve DOHC V-6 engine capable of generating 192 hp and 217 lb-ft of torque. Kia also offers an optional anti-lock braking system and a 21-gallon fuel tank.
The 2007 model got a duel performance boost that nabbed it a five-star crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The stronger engine doubles the Sorento’s towing capabilities while upping its horsepower from 192 to 262, and an improved head/tail light design features projector beams on the vehicle’s front end.
By the start of its second generation (2009 to present), Kia had begun work on a new model, managing to lessen the Sorento’s 3,500 pound curb weight by 475 pounds, mainly due to the introduction of a standard 2.4-liter, inline-four, aluminum head block engine. Available with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission, featuring a gasoline direct-injected fuel system, these more modern Sorentos get 20/27 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission and (a slightly improved) 22/32 mpg city/highway using the six-speed automatic transmission.