POSTED: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - 5:10pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - 9:28am
The Kia Sorento is one of those vehicles that helps mark a sea change for a manufacturer. You think of the Honda Accord or the Toyota Corolla. These were vehicles that marked their respective manufacturers arrival as serious competitors in the import field. And the Korean companies have had the same climb up the ladder the Japanese did in the 60’s and 70’s. It’s hard to remember when Japanese cars were thought of as junk. And it’s getting hard to remember that about the Koreans as well, because both Kia and its parent company Hyundai have moved into market segments never dreamed of just 5 years ago.
The Kia Sorento is one of those vehicles. When I first saw the new model in 2003, I was shocked. The old Kia Sportage was always an OK little truck for those on a budget. It wasn’t anywhere near the competition in quality or sophistication, but it was cheap, tough and kind of fun. The Sorento was larger, far better assembled and positively svelte. Now, Kia has made it a crossover, and it still feels as solid as a 2-bedroom bungalow, and the styling looks like it belongs on a small Lexus. But most importantly, every generation was just a bit better than the one before. With the Sorento though, they have crossed over to a new level or quality and style that has them chopping in some very tall cotton.
Roomy and well laid out, the interior quality isn’t quite up to Japanese standards…yet. It is a neat if slightly spartan interior. My spousal unit is five feet tall and was quite comfortable driving the truck and was pleased with the power.
That is now provided by a 3.5-liter twin-cam V6 which cranks out an adequate 273 horsepower. Our automatic-equipped truck weighed in at just under 4000 pounds, so performance was excellent, if not exactly neck-snapping. But, hey, it’s a sport ute not a Corvette. A 6-speed standard tranny is…well…standard, and our SX model had the 6-speed automatic. The truck is available in two or four-wheel-drive, and a 4-cylinder, 2.4-liter engine is available.
The Kia Sorento has a base price of $20,000 and our SX model was optioned up to $32,000, which for this truck is at least $2000 too much.