2007 Kia Sorento EX 4×4Posted on April 10th, 2007
By Jim Woodman
The last time I reviewed a Kia Sorento, in 2004 on a road trip to Colorado from San Diego, I came away very impressed. Now, just three short years later, I’m even more impressed with the continuous improvement in quality and craftsmanship from this South Korean automaker.
The second generation 2007 Sorento boasts a new, more powerful all-aluminum 3.8 liter V6 engine producing 262 horsepower – more than Toyota Highlander V6, Ford Explorer V6 and Toyota 4Runner V8. In contrast, the 2004 Sorento I reviewed produced an adequate 192 horses.
There’s also a new electronically controlled five-speed transmission that allows drivers to switch between automatic and manual shifts. The new powertrain, mated to the rugged body-on-frame construction, increases towing capacity to a very respectable 5,000 pounds. You can choose between rear-wheel and four-wheel drive with low-range gearing. My test vehicle was full-time four-wheel drive, though I never had the opportunity to take it off-road.
The full-time automatic Torque-On-Demand(tm) four-wheel-drive system, also with a low range, is available on the EX trim level as part of the $3000 Luxury Package. The system automatically detects wheel slippage 200 times per second, seamlessly transferring power between the rear and front wheels without requiring driver input. The advantage here is having the confidence that you’re getting the best traction control regardless of changing weather and terrain.
I was most impressed with the solid feel to this latest Sorento. Going over irregular surfaces and speed bumps gave no indication that anything was loose or poorly constructed. The steering wheel had no play and acceleration was terrific. For a mid-size SUV, this is certainly one of the better choices in the industry.
I’m absolutely certain the original poor-quality stigma associated with South Korean automakers, Kia and Hyundai, is going to be something we look back at and laugh about.
One need only look at history and see the similar rise in quality and craftsmanship from Japanese automakers during the 1980s. The South Koreans have learned very well from studying Toyota, Nissan and Honda and it’s easy to see they’re not reinventing the wheel here. In my opinion, the quality is now on par and it’s only a matter of time before we mention Kia and Hyundai in the same breath as the big three Japanese automakers.
What fascinates me to no end is why the American manufacturers don’t take the same notes and copy what’s been successful for the other importers. Given the choice of similar quality and craftsmanship, I’d buy American every time.
Okay, enough of my rant, I’ll get back to the Kia Sorento.
Two trim options
Buyers can choose between LX and EX trim lines, in two-wheel or four-wheel drive, with optional LX Sport Package and EX Luxury Package. Some of the subtle exterior refinements from its predecessor include redesigned front headlamps with projection lights, a revised front grille insert, new front fascia and bumper, more rounded body-side cladding, and redesigned tail lamps and rear fascia with reflector inserts. A new 17-inch wheel comes with the optional LX Sport Package and a new 16-inch wheel design fits the EX, while carry-over 16-inch silver and machined wheel designs sit at the four corners of the LX and EX Luxury Package trims respectively.
Dramatically restyled interior
More dramatic changes inside the vehicle take 2007 Sorento’s interior to a new level. A new center fascia, gauge cluster and floor console are enveloped in new, upscale wood and metallic finished trim materials, creating a functional and comfortable cabin feel.
Inviting first- and second-row seats, with available leather on the Sport and Luxury Packages, feature front active headrests and a new rear seatback lever for easier reclining adjustment. Additional interior upgrades include a standard front passenger side central door lock, and revised steering wheel-mounted cruise control and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.
Standard comfort and convenience features on all but the price leader model include air conditioning (dual-zone auto on EX Luxury Package), power windows/door locks/heated mirrors, cruise control, 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, full overhead console with sunglass storage, map lights and garage door opener pocket, four 12V power outlets, eight-way adjustable driver’s seat, 60/40 split flip-and-fold rear seats, rear privacy glass, cargo cover, roof rails and keyless entry with alarm.
LX Sport Package models have unique and exclusive black interior cloth or leather, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, side step bars, spoiler and the new 17-inch wheels and tires. The EX trim line features an eight-way power driver’s seat, fog lights, deluxe door scuff plates, HomeLink(r) programmable remote system, trip computer in the multi-meter that includes outside temperature gauge, compass, average speed, range and travel time to the overhead console and new 16-inch alloy wheels.
While I would like to see a three-row, seven-seater, crossover from Kia, this five-passenger vehicle gives you plenty of rear cargo space for carrying bicycles or sports equipment. I had plenty of room to easily carry two standard road bicycles with their front wheels removed.
With the rear seat folded down, there’s plenty of room to carry extra cargo.
When it comes to safety, Sorento offers even more standard features for 2007. Building on the previous model’s five-star NHTSA rating for both front and rear side impact crash tests, Sorento offers the following standard safety features across all trim lines: advanced two-stage airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic stability control (ESC) and traction control (TCS), tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), active front headrests, energy-absorbing steering column, driver knee airbag, rear child door locks, rear seat fixed upper and lower anchors for child safety seats (LATCH), and three-point seat belts for all seating positions with adjustable anchors and pretensioners with force limiters in front.
Installing my children’s car seats was ridiculously easy. It took less than a minute to install my two year-old’s car seat. Latches were very easy to clamp and I didn’t have to wedge open a gap between the seat cushions just to reach the hooks.
If there’s anything I can knock about the latest Sorento, it would be the adequate fuel economy. It’s a fairly heavy vehicle, tipping the scales at 4462 pounds with all the 4×4 bells and whistles, which party explains the gas mileage. EPAs suggest 17 and 22, city and highway respectively and I don’t think I was getting anywhere near that. That said, I’m a little heavy-footed and certainly didn’t want to back off taking advantage of the 260 pound-feet of torque.
For those concerned about Kia durability, a 10-year or 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty plus a five-year or 60,000-mile limited basic warranty; and a five-year or 100,000-mile anti-perforation warranty should comfort any doubters. A five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan is also part of Kia’s comprehensive coverage program.
Starting at a base price of $26,195 and loading the luxury package and destination charge only squeaks over our ALV $30k luxury limit at $30,065. This is why I’ve classified this as a best value vehicle. There’s no question that dollar for dollar this is one of the best mid-size SUV values on the market.
Base price: $26,195
Price as tested: $30,065
Horsepower: 266 Hp @ 6000 r.p.m.
Torque: 260 lbs.-ft. @ 4500 r.p.m.
0 to 60: N/A
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: No
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 17/22 m.p.g. city/highway
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