By KBB.com Editors
Styled and sized like a modern crossover, Kia's mid-size Sorento SUV retains the rugged body-on-frame construction preferred by off-road enthusiasts and those who need to tow heavy trailers. The Sorento's five-passenger cabin has the look and feel of an upscale SUV, making it as equally adept at shuttling business clients as it is the kids and family dog. Of course, the Sorento's long list of standard features, impressively powerful V6 engine and easy-to-swallow low sticker price are also a big draw, as is Kia's 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty. Safety is another area where the Sorento shines, with a five-star government crash-test safety rating, full-length side-curtain airbags, electronic stability control and traction control, all included as standard equipment.
If you're looking for an SUV that's bigger than a Honda CR-V but smaller than a Dodge Durango, the Sorento might suit you perfectly. Its long list of standard equipment, low base price and comfortable ride make it a good choice for the casual off-road warrior or those who keep their driving strictly on the pavement.
Powered by their rear wheels, the two-wheel drive Sorento models don't offer the level of traction in ice, snow or mud provided by their front-wheel-drive competitors. The V6 performs well but delivers mediocre fuel economy.
The Sorento has a new, all-aluminum V6 engine good for 262 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The Sorento's interior receives revised gauge faces and center console, new wood trim appliques, active headrests and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.
Driving Impressions On the road, the Sorento seems as solid and secure as the best SUVs from Japan and the U.S, and the steering feels light but precise and controlled. The Sorento's...strong V6 engine offers plenty of low-end torque and highway performance. The five-speed automatic delivers crisp shifts and rarely has to hunt for the proper gear. The Sorento's soft suspension displays more front-end dive and rear squat than we would prefer during harder acceleration and braking. However, the handling in turns does not seem to be affected in the same way, and the Sorento delivers good cornering ability without excessive lean or body roll.
The Sorento's wide interior provides for a roomy cargo area and offers plenty of shoulder room.
Array of Standard Equipment
For the money, few other SUVs can match the Sorento's array of standard equipment.
This is a five-passenger vehicle, but we think that, if those passengers are adults, four would be a more comfortable fit. The Sorento's rear seats provide good headroom and legroom and allow for a fairly large cargo area behind them. The interior quality is commendably good, using substantial plastic components, rich textures and plush surfaces. Standard front and rear side-curtain airbags are a worthwhile safety bonus.Exterior
The Sorento looks sharp and, on appearance alone, could easily be mistaken for a high-end Japanese SUV. The flared wheel arches, high windowsill line and wide side moldings impart a feeling of solidity, while the high ground clearance and optional Torque-On-Demand four-wheel-drive system promise good traction in slippery conditions.
The LX trim level includes the 3.8-liter V6 engine, a five-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), rear defroster, illuminated entry, remote keyless entry, auto-off headlamps, electronic stability and traction control, dual heated power mirrors, power windows, power locks, AM/FM stereo with MP3-compatible CD player and 10 speakers, front and rear side-curtain airbags, fuel tank skid plate, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, four 12-volt outlets, alloy wheels and a rear wiper/washer. The EX with Luxury package adds fog lights, side cladding, power sunroof, eight-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, leather seating and interior trim, 16-inch machined alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic temperature control and full-time four-wheel drive.
Options include Torque-On-Demand (TOD) full-time four-wheel drive, fog lights and a rear spoiler. For the EX, options include power moonroof, leather interior, rear-seat entertainment package, side step bars and a trailer hitch.
The Sorento's new 3.8-liter V6 is a strong engine with good pulling and passing power, and it works particularly well with the five-speed automatic transmission. The new engine not only adds an additional 70 horsepower, it also achieves better fuel economy than the previous 3.5-liter V6.
262 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
260 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 (2WD), 17/22 (4WD)
By No_Dummy on Monday, March 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Best value I could ever have found"
Cons: "The KIA name....."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I used to get a new company car ever year. When I bought this for myself (2nd Sorento)everyone thought I was crazy. I've had many business execs from Fortune 500 companies in this car and when I tell them what it is they all say "This is a Sorento". Probably the best car in the snow I've ever driven. Lots of low gear pick up and quiet on the highway. It's a real truck and tows 5,000 Lbs. I would buy a new one of the same style if it was available. Lacks some of the conveniences of new cars. But rock steady on the highway. It handles just the way it did when I bought it. It now has 74,000 miles on it."
By Shell on Tuesday, March 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 108,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "fair used price"
Cons: "light back end, interior door frame rust"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"This vehicle has been better then most as far as repairs. It is very comfortable to ride in or drive. It does have rust issues inside the door frames, which I feel is possibly a design flaw. It is also very light in the back end and not good on snowy roads unless you keep it in 4WD."
By rj on Thursday, February 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 89,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice ride, great headlights good towing"
Cons: "Emission parts failures..Oxygen sensors twice"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I had 4 emission repairs done and I had to pay for one. That one was a repeat oxygen sensor and the factory rep refused to meet me at the dealership. Spoke on the phone with reps who were nice but would not assist me in the repairs. I do feel a 100,000 mile warranty should cover emission parts."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By barney on Thursday, February 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 81,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Cons: "would prefer power seats, on wheel accessarys"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Very pleased with the Kia..needed it to tow and pull out trailered boat, did it well....engine well powered, good sound on radio, best turning radius of all that I tested. Milage max 22-24 on road, would like better, but reliable and nicely styled for South Florida..better than average service, comparable suvs' four to five thousand more bucks."
By mom on Monday, February 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 129,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "It drives fantastic"
Cons: "rear end rust"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this car new in Oct. of 2003, drove every suv there was out there and came back to the sorento. We were being label snobs. It was the best thing we ever did buying this car. Ten years later only selling it because I want something with a little more gas milage, and my kids are grown and don't need all that space."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Holly on Tuesday, January 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 185,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "very comfortable, auto 4wd great for mountains"
Cons: "too many mechanical issues, electrical problems"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Since this was the first year for the 2003 Sorento there were many flaws from the company. Before the 10K mark the transfer case had major problems, it still shows 4wd light even though it isn't on. Gas gauge went out, metal handles split and cut you, speedometer had to be replaced. Many costly repairs until its 4th year. It has been a great car since. EXCELLENT comfort for cross country driving. May son calls it the beast since he can go anywhere with it. The gas mileage isn't great in the mountains but in cities it is good. A lot of dirt driveway/back road driving. He wants another I'm still out on it."