2011 Kia Sorento EX

Slipping into the cabin of the totally
redesigned 2011 Kia Sorento EX was a reminder of just how much this midsize crossover
vehicle has matured. The fit and finish, the overall design and the level of
standard equipment are representative of what would have been found in luxury
vehicles not that many years ago, and yet the Sorento is a moderately priced
crossover vehicle.

It squares off against the Ford Escape,
Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4. It has an edge because it is the newest of the
bunch and has one of the longest warranties.

The base engine is a 2.4-liter,
four-cylinder engine, while a 276-horsepower V-6 is optional on the EX. Most
buyers will be more than happy with the performance of the 175-horsepower four-cylinder,
and that was the engine in the test car. The four-cylinder delivers its torque
at relatively low rpm, and that means it moves away from a stop with ample
energy. The Sorento weighs 3,796 pounds, and that is quite a bit for a
four-cylinder to haul around, but the Sorento did just fine. The fuel mileage
is rated at 21 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway.

The transmission is a Sportmatic six speed
automatic, the gearbox of choice, which also enables the driver to shift
manually.

This proprietary transmission was designed,
engineered and built specifically for Kia vehicles.

The Sorento’s styling is clean and modern
without being quite as brash as the Hyundai Tucson, a crossover of similar
size. The

Sorento’s 106.3-inch wheelbase yields more
interior space than the Tucson.The test car was a front-wheel-drive model. I
would prefer the optional all-wheel drive system for winter climates because it
can send power to all four wheels when conditions require. There is no extra-low
gear for off-road use, but crossovers really aren’t meant for off-road use
anyway.

The Sorento’s ride was tight and sporty,
but there were times when it seemed a bit too rough over small bumps. The
18-inch wheels might have been a contributing factor.

Later this summer, Kia will offer the
loaded Sorento SX. Pricing and exact availability have not been announced.

The SX will have a host of convenience
features such as push-button start, heated outside mirrors, leather-trimmed
seats, heated front seats, voice-activated navigation system and a back-up
camera. The 3.5-liter V-6 engine has 276 horsepower and 248 pound feet of
torque, making it more powerful than the Ford Edge and Chevrolet Equinox.

Utility vehicles are meant to be practical,
and the Sorento is no exception. The cargo space is big enough to haul a lot of
stuff, and folding the back seat is a breeze. There are numerous storage
pockets throughout the interior.

Standard safety features include hill start
assist, downhill brake control, antilock brakes, traction control and vehicle
stability control.

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