2013 Kia Sorento EXPosted on August 15th, 2012
Limited package gives crossover luxury amenities
By Nina Russin
Who could have predicted that a former Korean bicycle manufacturer would produce one of the best- selling crossover vehicles in North America, and in the process bring a poor agricultural community in southern Georgia back to life? Kia’s seven-passenger Sorento, built at the company’s West Point, Georgia manufacturing plant, continues to be one of the brand’s greatest success stories.
Despite a shift in the market from large sport-utility vehicles towards smaller passenger cars, the value-priced Sorento maintains a strong customer base. Its combination of value and versatility makes the crossover an obvious choice for families with active lifestyles.
The 2013 Sorento comes with a choice of two, four-cylinder engines or a V-6, with front or all-wheel drive. Buyers can add a third row of seating, boosting the Sorento’s capacity to seven passengers.
Base price for the upscale V-6 EX model is $27,850, excluding the $800 delivery charge. Standard convenience features include keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, leather seating, UVO infotainment system with rearview camera, Bluetooth interface and a rear spoiler.
A limited package adds luxury features such as navigation with satellite radio, memory driver’s seat, air- cooled driver’s seat and power folding outside mirrors ($2000). A premium option package includes an Infinity surround-sound audio system, heated front seats, power passenger seat, split folding third-row seat, first aid kit and a panoramic sunroof ($3400).
Three other options on the test car, a rear bumper protector, cargo net and cargo cover bring the final MSRP to $34,390.
Test drive in southern Arizona
I spent the past week driving the seven-passenger Sorento around the Phoenix metro area, as well as a road trip between Phoenix and Tucson, 150 miles to the south.
Daytime temperatures reached 115 during the week, putting the Sorento’s powertrain and air conditioning to the ultimate test. The air conditioner cooled the black leather interior remarkably well, dropping the temperature from 140 to 75 degrees within a matter of minutes.
While I’m all in favor of stretching gas mileage, the V-6 engine offers significantly better power and performance than the Sorento’s base four-cylinder. The Sorento’s curb weight, 3781 pounds, isn’t bad as mid-sized crossovers go. But the spec doesn’t account for the optional panoramic sunroof and third row of seating, or passengers who occupy the car.
The V-6 engine boosts 101 horsepower and 79 more foot-pounds of torque than the base engine; 65 more horsepower and 67 more foot-pounds of torque than the direct-injection four-cylinder block. Both front and all-wheel drive models with the V-6 engine meet ALV’s 3500-pound towing criteria.
An eco-indicator light on the gauge cluster tells the driver when he is keeping engine speed at or below 2000 rpm to enhance gas mileage. Fuel economy during my 400 mile test drive was on par with the EPA estimated 22 miles-per-gallon.
The power rack-and-pinion steering system offers plenty of assist for maneuvering through crowded parking lots, with positive on-center response on the highway. A 35.7-foot turning circle makes U-turns a possibility on wider suburban roads.
A four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts with coil springs in front and a multi-link setup in the back. Stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis from rolling in the corners.
Four-wheel disc brakes give the Sorento good stopping power on wet and dry roads.
Visibility to the front and sides is quite good. I had no problems monitoring vehicles in adjacent lanes on the freeway. The Sorento’s thick rear pillars create large blind spots in the back corners. Blind spot monitoring would be a nice safety feature to see on future models.
The rearview camera eliminates these blind spots when the driver shifts into reverse. Lines superimposed over the camera image show the car’s trajectory according to steering inputs and also indicate the distance between the Sorento’s rear bumper and nearby obstacles. An audible alarm warns the driver about obstacles close to the vehicle’s perimeter.
The optional panoramic sunroof on the Sorento EX test car brings an abundance of ambient light into the interior. Designers did an excellent job of adding storage areas throughout the passenger cabin, including a locking glovebox, large center console bin, and an open bin at the base of the center stack. A storage cubby behind the center stack is large enough for a small purse.
Keyless entry and start enables the drive to enter and start the car without fishing for a key fob. It’s a great convenience for trips to the grocery store, and adds a measure of safety for drivers who leave work in urban centers after dark.
Optional seat memory settings let multiple family members share the car. I found both the driver’s and front passenger seats comfortable for drives of several hours. In both cases, power adjustments are easy to use and the seats provide ample lower lumbar support.
Redundant steering wheel controls allow the driver to change audio channels, use the cruise control and Bluetooth interface with minimal distraction. The optional UVO system, developed in conjunction with Microsoft, turns the center stack into a head unit for the driver’s smart phone, for applications such as Pandora. The optional Infinity surround sound system is of comparable quality to high-end home systems. The driver can adjust the balance of sound front-to-rear depending on the number of passengers in the car.
Second-row outboard seats provide plenty of head and legroom for adults. The center tunnel eliminates some legroom in the center position. Third-row seats have limited head, hip and legroom, and are best suited for kids. With the third-row seats folded flat, the Sorento meets our bicycle-friendly standards.
The Kia Sorento comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, front active headrests, and electronic stability control. Hill start assist prevents the vehicle from sliding backwards when the driver accelerates from a stop on a steep grade. Downhill brake control maintains low speeds when descending steep hills so the driver can maintain directional control without using the brakes.
Kia’s ten year/100,000 mile factory warranty includes five years of complimentary roadside assistance, up to 60,000 miles. Kia builds the Sorento at its West Point, Georgia manufacturing facility.
Like: A solid, well designed seven-passenger crossover which meets our bicycle-friendly and towing standards. Kia continues to lead the industry in standard safety, comfort and convenience features.
Dislike: Thick rear pillars create large blind spots in the back corners.
Model: Sorento EX FWD
Base price: $27,950
As tested: $34,390
Horsepower: 276 Hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 248 lbs.-ft. @ 5000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: Available
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Towing: Yes (V-6 models only)
Fuel economy: 20/26 mpg city/highway
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