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Thread: 2011 Kia Sorento

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    2011 Kia Sorento

    It's barely 2010 and Kia has already launched the 2011 Sorento. That's getting a jump on the competition!

    WHAT IT IS

    The Sorento is mid-sized, light-duty SUV available with either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive, four or six-cylinder engines and third row seats. It competes against models like the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Chevy Equinox and its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Sante Fe.

    Prices begin at $19,995 for the base model with four-cylinder engine, manual transmission and FWD. The range-topping EX V-6 w/AWD has a sticker price of $28,895.

    WHAT'S NEW

    The Sorento is completely redesigned for the 2011 model year (and 2010 calendar year). It has a new exterior and interior, up-rated engines and standard third-row seats.

    WHAT'S GOOD

    Optional six-cylinder engine is stronger than most competitors' optional V-6 engines. Under $20k base price undercuts most rivals' over $21k base prices. Has a third row row seat - and it's standard equipment.

    Nice-looking vehicle.

    Reassuring warranty.

    WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD

    $19k base model not available with AWD. To get the excellent V-6, you have to buy the more expensive EX trim, which starts at $27,195 - without AWD.

    Third row seating is more PR talking point than functional reality.

    ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

    Sorento buyers can pick either a 2.4 liter, 175 hp four-cylinder engine or 276 hp 3.5 liter V-6. The four is available with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic; the V-6 comes only with the six-speed automatic.

    With the V-6, the Sorento can get to 60 mph in just over 7 seconds; the four-cylinder version needs about a second more but the six-speed manual transmission makes it feel quicker than it is.

    Either engine can be ordered with front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. If you choose the latter you also get a driver-selectable locking center differential, which gives extra traction in snow and mud. This is a feature many AWD-equipped vehicles don't offer at all.

    All Sorentos come standard with Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control, too.

    Surprisingly, gas mileage is about the same with either engine - about 19-20 MPGs city and 26-29 MPGs highway.

    Max tow rating (with the V-6) is 3,500 lbs. - par for the segment.

    DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

    V-6 versions accelerate with almost muscle car authority, which isn't surprising given the Sorento's 276 hp V-6 is one of the strongest engines of its type in this segment (36 hp more than the Ford Escape's 3.0 liter V-6). In fact, the only competitor that matches it is the Sorento's corporate cousin, the Hyundai Sante Fe - which uses the same 3.5 liter engine.

    The four cylinder version's chief virtue is that you can get it with a manual transmission - which some people (me) just like better than an automatic, no matter how perfectly it might shift. You won't get significantly better gas mileage, though. But you can save a few thousand dollars up front (four-cylinder/manual LX versions are much less expensive than V-6 EX versions).

    It depends what you're after, of course, but my advice is to at least test-drive the four before you decide on the V-6. The V-6 has tremendous power (reality check: 276 hp is 26 hp more than a 1985 Corvette with a 5.7 liter V-8), arguably more than many drivers - especially suburban commuters - will ever need. Real life is not like the TV commercials - for most people. Do you like to drive faster than 75 mph - and do it often? Do you like to outrun other cars when the light turns green? Or do you pretty much just go with the flow? If you do - and there's nothing wrong with that - then 175 hp will likely be plenty.

    Try it for yourself and see.

    I test-drove the Sorento during one of the worst winters SW Virginia has experienced in 20-plus years and was grateful to have a vehicle with some ground clearance and AWD (the previous week I had a rear-drive Jaguar that sat maybe three inches off the ground). I didn't need to use the locking differential, but was glad to have that, too.

    Many people believe they must have a truck-based SUV and heavy-duty 4WD (with 4WD Low gearing) to deal with poor weather. It's just not so. The truth of the matter is that truck-based 4WD with Low-range gearing is mainly designed to tackle off-road conditions - not poor conditions on-road. If you don't go off-road often and just need a vehicle that can deal with unplowed snow, AWD will do the trick and save you some money both up front (AWD is usually less expensive than 4WD) as well as down the road (AWD vehicles usually get better gas mileage than heavier 4WD vehicles) and give you better driving feel/handling when it's dry and nice out - because car-based AWD systems are designed to improve dry-road handling and grip, too.

    Truck-based 4WD systems are not.

    STYLING & UTILITY

    My opinion - the Sorento's one of the best-looking vehicles in this segment. More sportwagon-like than boxy SUV-like. Large driving lights on either side of the lower front valance panel give it a sporty face. This theme carries inside - where you'll find a 150 mph speedometer that's hilarious given the only place in the US where you can legally drive faster than 75 mph is Texas.

    Still, it makes you feel zippy.

    Equipment-wise, the Sorento can be fitted out with most of the stuff you'd find in an entry luxury-branded vehicle, including heated seats, Bluetooth wireless, keyeless pushbutton ignition, voice-activated navigation, premium 12 speaker Infinity audio with satellite radio, a Panorama sunroof that runs almost the entire length of the roof, rear-seat DVD entertainment with wireless headphones, mood lighting, etc. Versions equipped with leather seats get an attractive two-tone look (my test vehicle had cream/gray).

    Like other crossovers, you sit higher up and have a better view all around in the Sorento than you do in a standard car. This is a big part of the appeal. A back-up camera (bundled with GPS) is available to improve the one sightline that's not-so-good with any SUV or crossover - the view behind you.

    The standard third row seats offer more theoretical passenger-carrying ability than models without them (like the Equinox and Honda CR-V) but they suffer from the same problem that besets pretty much all third-row seating in everything except full-size SUVs: There is no footwell, so you have to sit with your legs bunched up toward your gut - if you're an adult. Headroom is ok, though - and the seats are perfectly usable for teens and younger kids.

    Total cargo capacity (with second and third row folded flat) is 73 cubic feet - more than the Chevy Equinox (64 cubic feet), Ford Escape (66 cubic feet) and exactly the same as the Toyota RAV4 (73 cubic feet).

    The Hyundai Sante Fe tops them all with 78 cubic feet of cargo capacity.

    QUALITY & SAFETY

    Some buyers may be leery of Kia based on Kia's first few years in the US market, when its models (like parent company Hyundai's first models) lived up to their low prices with low-quality - and often, lots of problems. But the Hyundai-Kia conglomerate now builds cars that are as good - and maybe better than - mainline Japanese stuff. No issues with Kia's brakes, for example.

    And the warranty is the best there is literally twice the coverage you get with a Toyota or Honda.

    I also like to take into account price differentials. If a given mode costs $1,200-$2,000 less than an otherwise similar competitor (as is the case with the Sorento vs. the Escape, the RAV4 and Equinox, etc.) it's almost like an additional extended warranty in the sense that if something major does go wrong years from now - such as a transmission failure - in effect it's already paid for relative to the situation you'd be in had you bought the more costly competitor and the transmission or something like that croaked on you.

    Don't forget, in addition, that the Sorento comes standard with Hill Start Assist (keeps you from rolling backward) and Hill Descent Control (keeps you from building up excessive speed when negotiating a steep decline) in addition to all the "usual stuff" such as ABS, traction and stability control, fornt seat side-impact air bags and full-row curtain air bags - for under $20k to start.

    That's pretty solid.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    The new Sorento's got a jump on the competition in more ways than one.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    It's barely 2010 and Kia has already launched the 2011 Sorento. That's getting a jump on the competition!

    The new Sorento's got a jump on the competition in more ways than one.
    They should just complete the "lets get new models out ASAP-cycle" and call it a 2010 since it's only February. Release the 2011 models in November 2010 not November 2009..... stupid automakers. Its just like how I got my March 2010 copy of Hot Rod Magazine in mid-January.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dieseleverything View Post
    They should just complete the "lets get new models out ASAP-cycle" and call it a 2010 since it's only February. Release the 2011 models in November 2010 not November 2009..... stupid automakers. Its just like how I got my March 2010 copy of Hot Rod Magazine in mid-January.
    Although they have built it cackhanded it is a nice looking wagon. I was impressed by the look of the tidy and (to me anyway) uncluttered interior. Kia seem to be quite a force to be reckoned with these days.

    Ken.
    Last edited by Ken; 02-10-2010 at 12:03 PM.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
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  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dieseleverything View Post
    They should just complete the "lets get new models out ASAP-cycle" and call it a 2010 since it's only February. Release the 2011 models in November 2010 not November 2009..... stupid automakers. Its just like how I got my March 2010 copy of Hot Rod Magazine in mid-January.
    I agree - and it's getting worse.

    When I started writing reviews back in the early '90s, most new car intros happened in the fall. Then it started to get pushed back to summer, then spring. Now we're at the point where the new year is barely a month old and already next year's models are coming out... it's whacked!

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    Although they have built it cackhanded it is a nice looking wagon. I was impressed by the look of the tidy and (to me anyway) uncluttered interior. Kia seem to be quite a force to be reckoned with these days.

    Ken.
    Agree. I could find no major fault with it - and a lot to like. They did a good job!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
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  7. #7
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mase View Post


    That looks pre-production - which is exactly what I have!

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