Sorento a good value, but flaws stand out
2012 Kia Sorento Review:
I was underwhelmed by Kia’s 2012 Sorento, which was a surprise because I enjoyed an earlier version a couple years back.
Sorento’s price is good, it seats seven, and it has a well appointed interior viagra some desirable options. But the dark cherry red test SUV, the upscale SX model with front-wheel drive, had flaws that gave me pause.
The ride was not nearly as good as the Sorento SX I’d driven previously, the steering was overly quick and there were some rattles in its back end. Its gas mileage remains mediocre.
Sorento uses MacPherson struts with coil springs and a stabilizer bar up front and a multi-link system in back, also with a stabilizer bar. Steering is handled via a hydraulic power assist system on a rack and pinion.Yet the ride becomes choppy and bumpy over big potholes and pavement seams. That creates a sometimes jarring ride, especially in the rear seats. Couple that with the over-assisted power steering and the SUV feels a bit jittery, especially on the highway when the pavement turns rough. I found myself overcorrecting the steering frequently because it turns so quickly. What might be fun with a sports coupe or sedan becomes extra work. There also is some body lean in tight turns and a bit of side to side motion on slight uphill parking lot entries.
That’s not to take away from Sorento’s good power and transmission setup. In the SX you get Kia’s 3.5-liter V6 with continuously variable valve timing. In theory that helps its fuel economy, but surely it helps its power. The Kia pumps out 310 hp with a torque rating of 248.
The base model comes with a 175-horsepower, 2.4-liter I4 that is sufficient, but not as strong as the V6. Plus in that earlier model with the 4-cylinder, I found it wanting in the 30-40 mph range when the 6-speed automatic transmission bogged down. There’s no such problem with the V6. The transmission shifts smoothly and gives the Sorento plenty of power pulling away from a stoplight. This package also is powerful enough to tow 3,500 pounds.
Braking is good with discs front and rear, including vented discs up front. Stability and traction control are standard along with ABS.
Inside I liked the dark gray over black dash with gray fake wood trim on the dash and doors with chrome gauge and knob trim. Seats were leather and come with three-speed heat and cooling.
Sorento comes with a manually adjustable tilt/telescope steering wheel that also is heated. Dash gauges and buttons are well laid out, and the trip computer information is presented in an orange digital display. However, that is controlled via the odometer reset button in the upper left corner of the speedometer, an awkward location that makes it nearly impossible to use while driving.Sorento SX comes with a navigation system and rear backup camera warning system. There’s an Infinity surround sound stereo and dual-zone climate control system too.
The seats are moderately contoured and firm, but comfortable. The first two rows are easy to access and have good head and legroom. The third row is for small children.
Note that when the third row is up, there is really only cargo room for a few bags of groceries. However, it folds down flat fairly easily, assuming the second row seat backs are not reclining much. That creates plenty of cargo room. Both second and third row seats will fold flat to haul long items.
The test SUV added a panoramic sunroof, which consisted of a second sunroof over the rear seats. That adds $1,500 to the cost.
Base price for the SX is $33,150 with an $800 delivery fee. Adding the sunroof, the price hit $35,450, still an attractive price for an SUV that’ll haul seven folks. Moving up to the AWD SX model pushes the starting price to $34,850.
But there are several models in the Sorento lineup below that, all starting with front-wheel drive and available with AWD. The LX with the 4-cylinder engine begins at $23,150. Moving up to the V6 LX pushed the price to $24,950 and getting it with both the V6 and AWD moves it to $25,350, still a reasonable value.Considering the quality of other Kia models I’ve driven of late, I was surprised at some rattles in the Sorento’s rear-end. Those were only noticeable on our very bumpiest roads.
Gas mileage also remains on the low end, considering the Sorento with V6 is rated 20 mpg city and 26 highway. I got 19.1 mpg in about a 50-50 mix of city and highway driving, when I would have expected more on the 21-22 mpg range. I got 20 mpg with the 4-cylinder model in an earlier test, so there does not appear to be much advantage going with the smaller engine.