By KBB.com Editors
Completely redesigned following a one-model-year hiatus, the 2011 Kia Sorento reflects a wholesale transition that spans everything from its look and feel to its place of origin. Swapping body-on-frame for more car-like unitized construction and available in base/LX/EX/SX trims, the new Sorento boasts a smarter appearance, enhanced creature comforts for up to seven, upgraded powertrains and improved dynamics. Related by architecture to its Hyundai Santa Fe cousin, this "compact-plus" front-drive/all-wheel drive crossover is the first Kia to be made in America at the firm's new facility in West Point, Georgia. The automaker sees four-cylinder Sorento variants facing off against rivals like Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 with V6-powered models taking on foes like the Ford Edge, Mazda CX-7, Nissan Murano and Toyota Highlander.
Should words like practical, comfortable, versatile and economical be the first to come to mind when you start scoping out a mid-size crossover, the 2011 Kia Sorento definitely merits a test drive.
A comprehensive ground-up remake moves this bigger, better and decidedly more capable 2011 Kia Sorento into the most desirable part of an increasingly popular market segment.
Driving Impressions Well-mannered, well-balanced, easy to maneuver and easy to live with, the 2011 Kia Sorento is truly a driver-friendly travelmate. Although the 2.4-liter four has sufficient power to handle all light-to-medium...duty work, it's decidedly less stressed when fitted to the front-drive models. The 3.5-liter V6 adds considerably more enthusiasm in either configuration without exacting too much of a fuel-economy hit and ups the Sorento's max-tow rating from 1,650 to 3,500 pounds. Wider track dimensions, a nicely tuned, fully independent suspension and appropriately scaled wheel/tire fitments give this Kia crossover a confident feel and help curtail body roll in corners while its low-key stability control allows for some measure of reasonably spirited driving. However, even modestly rough road surfaces tend to produce more noise and impact harshness than you'd expect in the Sorento's otherwise notably well-isolated cabin. Although lacking a low-range transfer case, the Sorento's torque-on-demand all-wheel drive system does include a lockable center differential.
UVO infotainment system
Introduced on the 2011 Sorento, Kia's answer to Ford's SYNC also is built around Microsoft's Windows Embedded Automotive software and offers a full spectrum of user-friendly features, expanded voice recognition capability and is easy to update.
The 2011 Kia Sorento is protected by the automaker's outstanding five-year/60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper coverage that includes 24-hour roadside assistance as well as a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.
Impressively finished and tastefully turned out, the 2011 Kia Sorento cabin gains 15 percent more volume and a new – albeit kid-scaled – third-row seat that's standard in V6 models and optional in all but the "base" four. Numerous soft-touch surfaces effectively counterpoint hard plastic elements, while highly legible instrumentation, logical control layouts and a bounty of standard comfort/convenience touches add appeal, whether teamed with cloth or optional leather upholstery. All iterations match decently supportive front buckets with a generously proportioned 60/40 split/folding second-row bench. The Sorento's modest 9.1 cubic feet of stow space when rigged for seven rises to 37.0 cubic feet with the third row folded and maxes out at 72.5 cubic feet.Exterior
Integrating cues from its 2007 KND-4 Concept vehicle with the latest elements of Kia production design, the Sorento's bodywork melds clean, aerodynamic lines with suitably modern detailing in the grille and headlamp/taillamp treatments. Longer, lower and wider than the 2009 model it replaces, the 2011 Sorento rides on a marginally shorter wheelbase but boasts over 1.5-inches of additional front/rear track. Nicely flared fender arches are filled with 17-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in 235/65 all-season tires on base and LX models, while the EX and SX models get 235/60 rubber on 18-inch satin-finish and polished alloys. The top-line Sorento SX adds a bit more brightwork, body-color bumpers and LED taillights.
Beyond a 175-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, five-passenger base and LX Sorento models feature a full range of power assists, air conditioning, multifunction/tilt/telescoping steering wheel, trip computer, cruise control, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with Sirius Satellite Radio, USB/AUX ports and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity. The LX V6 adds rear air conditioning and a third-row seat while the EX trim nets dual-zone climate control, Kia's UVO infotainment system, power driver's seat, upgraded interior trim, a backup camera, fog lamps, automatic headlight control and a rear spoiler. Sitting atop the Sorento range, the SX boasts full-leather seating, a premium Infinity sound system, navigation with real-time traffic and more.
The modest Sorento LX option roster includes a Convenience Package (roof rails, fog lamps, heated front seats, Backup Warning System) and folding third-row bench. The LX V6 can be upgraded with the same Convenience Package as the four-cylinder and EX buyers can add a Premium Package (leather, heated front seats, backup camera) and/or a Limited Package (Navigation with real-time traffic, 18-inch chrome-finish wheels, and special interior trim/mood lighting) as well as a rear-seat DVD entertainment system [V6 only]. A panoramic sunroof is the sole SX option.
The 2011 Kia Sorento offers two gasoline engines. Its port-injected 2.4-liter four makes 175 horsepower and 169 pound-feet of torque while the 3.5-liter V6 turns out a far more energetic 276 horses and 248 pound-feet of torque. Save for the "base" front-drive Sorento, all other versions feature a new Kia-designed six-speed "Sportmatic" automatic transmission. Offsetting the four's lower entry price point, the more capable and enthusiastic V6 equals its 20-mpg city rating and sacrifices but one mpg on the highway when motive force only goes to the front wheels. Interestingly enough, a four-cylinder/front-drive Sorento LX/EX actually nets better EPA figures in both categories with the new automatic than a base model does with its six-speed manual.
2.4-liter in-line four cylinder
175 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
169 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg (FWD 6-sp manual), 21/29 mpg (FWD 6-sp automatic), 21/27 mpg (AWD 6-sp automatic)
276 horsepower @ 6300 rpm
248 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/26 mpg (FWD 6-sp automatic), 18/24 mpg (AWD 6-sp automatic)
By kiaforever on Friday, April 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very spacious. great value. safe. stylish"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Kia has really stepped up their game! This is very comparable to more luxury SUV's like it! Great handling, drives wonderful in the snow. Huge capacity for cargo! Love this vehicle so much!"
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By pook on Wednesday, April 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "handling, power, styling"
Cons: "unreliable, tailgate rattle,ride could be smoother"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"bought my 2013 lx v6 awd sorento brand new in september 12, i like the looks of the car an it handles well and the v6 gives plenty of gusto, however two months into ownership i started experiencing trouble. the car would not crank over, turn key and nothing, it was in shop about five or six times, twice on a tow truck, finally in march 13 they seeed to get it fixed, today however april 16 2014, it wouldn't start and had to drive my other vehicle to work, back to dealer on a tow truck, i have also had a vibration at highway speeds that will make my hands go numb after awhile, even after many complaints, the dealer can't duplicate problem, i have had a lemon law case brought against kia, so far no resolution."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By IIBEACH on Sunday, April 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 64,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Lots of space, handles well, great MPG, visibility"
Cons: "Not as quiet on the highway as I'd like"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought my 2012 Sorento EX in August 2011. I selected it because Kia gave so much more for the money vs. others I liked. I already have 65K on it, and while I expected it to be competent, I guess I'm surprised that it has been much more than that. It gives me loads of space, it's quite comfortable, exceptional MPG (23/29), great acceleration for a 4 cyl, and with the exception of a seam in the driver's seat that opened (which Kia replaced), I have had no issues whatsoever. I don't keep most cars very long, due to my high miles driven, but when I replace this one (soon), I will give Kia another look. They earned it."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By SC on Friday, March 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Plenty of interior space for a long drive"
Cons: "4 cylinder does not have enough push"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I love my Sorento! It is great for highway driving and meets my needs of having to park in downtown. Fuel efficiency is wonderful, fill up once every 2 weeks, as I have the 4 cylinder. If I were to buy again, I would definitely get a Sorento, but would choose the 6 cylinder, as it lacks a little in power when getting onto the highway."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Douglas on Monday, March 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Dependable, fun to drive, great value"
Cons: "Gas mileage lower than advertised, naviation so-so"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is my 2nd Sorento. Love the heated/ cooled leather seats, auto climate control, UVO system, etc. This car has nearly every feature you can get, including a glass roof. The only things that aren't perfect are the navigation system, the gas mileage, and cargo space. The navigation maps are not very accurate. (says my home and work addresses don't exist!) Gas mileage is close to posted ratings, but not quite. I knew about the cargo space when I bought the car, so I'm not saying I am disappointed, just wish it had a little more."
8 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Drew on Tuesday, February 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,899overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "We love it is all I can say, can't say otherwise.."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We started out with a Kia Sportage in 2009 with a 4 cyl, & shifted up to Sorrento w/V-6 So we can better tow our 1650 Crestliner Aluminum Bass boat back & forth to Pleasant & Havasu lake, the Sportage was underpowered & now the Sorrento is powered great at 276HP! We love it as did the older Sportage, this just fits the bill better. A little pricey at 37,750. for the Sorrento FWD SX But it's fully loaded with everything you could imagine except all wheel drive & we like it that way, better mileage & less maintenance, we could have spent WAY LESS ON THE BASE MODEL BUT WE LIKE THE LOADED ONE!!! We decided because it has front twin traction drive, it's plenty of control on surfaces we drive & gets better mileage than the All Wheel Drive by around 2 MPG & is much less maintenance without another Differential, transfer case & other 4wd components! We get around 26mpg loaded on the highway & have lots of room. Very happy & Kia & sister company Hyundai have the best warranty..."
12 people out of 15 found this review helpful