Advertisement
Find a Car
Go!

First Drive: 2011 Kia Sorento

Follow Marty

2011 Kia Sorento

2011 Kia Sorento

Enlarge Photo
  • What is it?: A new crossover aimed between the Honda CR-V and Honda Pilot, among others
  • The basics: A smoothly rounded shape, V-6 power and available all-wheel drive
  • On sale: January 2010
  • Price: $20,000 base (est.)

Earlier this week, TheCarConnection was among the first dozen journalists to drive the new 2011 Kia Sorento, a crossover that's sure to cause some heartburn for the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Despite some flooding in Georgia that abbreviated the test route, and the availability of only the six-cylinder Sorento, our drive confirmed a few things. Most importantly, that the Sorento's repositioned size and mission cuts across the crossover class in a useful way, and its first-rate execution continues the string of hits that's included the 2010 Kia Soul and 2010 Kia Forte.

The Sorento used to be a frame-rail, truck-based SUV, but no more. Now it's a crossover based on car pieces--and it's a close relative of the current Hyundai Santa Fe, also built in the deep South about 90 miles from the Sorento's new home in West Point, Georgia. For $1 billion, Kia's built a new plant that's set to build 300,000 vehicles a year in the medium term, with the Sorento accounting for a third to half of that volume. (More to come on this later today).

With the new body and new plant, the Sorento has a new task. Bluntly put, it's to take a chunk out of Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 sales. To do that, Kia's outfitted it with a choice of four- and six-cylinder engines, which trumps the CR-V's sole four-cylinder. And it's also installing third-row seats on the highest-trim Sorento, which throws down the challenge to the three-row RAV4. In the process, the Sorento tangles with all sorts of crossovers sized and priced vaguely close--the list includes the Ford Edge, the Mazda CX-7, the Chevrolet Equinox, even the Nissan Murano and Toyota Highlander.

On style, the 2011 Sorento makes big gains with a nicely proportioned look that draws on Kia cars for its grille and headlamps, and bigger crossovers for its rear quarters. The Sorento sits lower now, and it's taken on some of the cues from Kia's passenger cars, like the "Schreyer line" named for the chief designer Peter Schreyer, that splits headlamps from its grille. The cabin is defined by a somewhat imposing dash with three big oval gauges and a center stack with a large LCD screen flanked by big vents. It's clean, but the plastics on the dash and doors are hard and have a large grain, and some versions have grey-toned artificial wood that sits at the crossroads of Nice Try Street and No You Really Shouldn't Have Boulevard.

Kia offered us a six-cylinder, automatic-equipped Sorento for our test drive--with four-cylinders in the pipeline for a major media drive next month. We were confined to I-85 thanks to the floods in the Atlanta area, but got enough seat time to confirm the V-6's supple howl, smart passing power and the somewhat slow responses of the Kia homegrown six-speed automatic. A pair of paddles for shifting would be welcome, though there is already a manual-shift mode on the console. Kia promises 20/28 mpg with this combination, which probably makes the four-cylinder's 21/29 mpg  a choice only for the very price-conscious shopper. Ride and handling are softer than the RAV4 and CR-V, with a touch of rumble on rippled interstates, but the Sorento's one of the typically predictable handlers that make crossovers so much better than big, trucky SUVs. It feels failsafe, and the optional all-wheel drive underscores its new emphasis on safety. Kia's predicting five-star safety for the Sorento, but the NHTSA hasn't had one to crash yet.


 
Follow Us

 

Have an opinion?

  • Posting indicates you have read this site's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
  • Notify me when there are more comments
Comments (19)
  1. You might call this a crossover but the profile looks very SUV like. I hope for Kia's sake they can keep all their buyers convinced that it is not an SUV
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  2. Can't wait to see more of this...I've been really impressed by the Kias I've seen lately. Not cheap by any means, especially compared to similarly-priced cars.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  3. What great value- they really are putting on the pressure- watch out for Kia-they are coming in strong!!
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  4. Kia and Hundayi are going to role the usa market in 5-6 years. With these great offers and cost/effective cars, lots of people will buy them and not much more expensive cars like honda,toyota. Not to mention brands from detroit.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  5. Weird. Looks like the rear (which I like) and the front (bleccch) were designed in two different countries. At least the front is fixable easier than the rear.
    I've been impressed by Kias lately too. The Forte is sharp. This one is sharp too ... from the rear.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  6. marty, sounds like a solid product. very curious to get more details as the offical launch date is set.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  7. A little derivative from the pics, but I haven't seen one in person yet, obviously. Kia/Hyundai is doing well with the split-personality thing in the U.S. Seems like Hyundai is the new Toyota and Kia is the new Honda, eh?
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  8. That's an interesting car. Can't wait to read the full review for it...
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  9. Marty, This car is not same class in Honda CR-V & Toyota RAV4 grade.
    Hyundai Tucson/Kia sportage are Honda CR-V & Toyota RAV4 grade car.
    -----------------------
    Check, Official Honda and Hyundai website.
    Hyundai Tucson/Kia sportage are Honda CR-V grade. Hyundai Santa Fe / Kia Sorento are NOT same class in CR-V class.
    http://automobiles.honda.com/tools/compare/select-competitor-similar.aspx?ModelName=CR-V&ModelYear=2009&AICGroupNum=5096&AICNum1=25708&LastState=%2Ftools%2Fcompare%2F%3FModelName%3DCR-V%26ModelYear%3D2009%26AICGroupNum%3D5096%26AICNum1%3D25708%26LastState%3D&Filter=&Mode=&Photo=
    http://www.hyundaiusa.com/vehicle/comparison/comparison.aspx?vehicle=Tucson&year=2009&trimID=24406
    -----------------------
    Check Euro NCAP classification.
    Hyundai Tucson = Honda CR-V = Toyta RAV4 ; Same Class
    http://www.euroncap.com/small_off_road_4_4.aspx
    Hyundai Santafe & Kia Sorento are cleary out of CR-V class.
    http://www.euroncap.com/large_off_road_4_4.aspx
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  10. 1. Hyundai Tucson / Kia Sportage = Comapct SUV.
    Honda CR-V & Toyta RAV4 class
    http://www.euroncap.com/small_off_road_4_4.aspx
    2. Hyundai Santa Fe / Kia Sorento = Midsize SUV.
    Toyota Highlander & Honda Pilot & Nissan Pathfinder.
    http://www.euroncap.com/large_off_road_4_4.aspx
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  11. @ Sorento Owner: I totally agree with you, and I'm so happy someone pointed this out. It is mind-boggling when auto journalists compare the Santa Fe and the Sorento to the CR-V and the RAV-4. This new Sorento is nearly identical in size to the new Highlander, and nobody would ever compare that SUV to the CR-V. It would be absurd. I don't get it.
    Anyways, I'm so ready for this to go on sale! I'm going to get the Limited in Black with Tan Leather! Kia is really stepping up their game as of late! Go Kia!!!!
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  12. Say what you want Sorento Owner..but the Kia press kit in my hand says "CR-V and RAV4."
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  13. I have been searching the US market in vain for years for a vehicle with AWD, a manual transmission and 6-7 seats. Until the 2011 Sorento came along, only the Mazda 5 came close, but doesn't have AWD.
    Will the new Sorento offer a manual with the AWD model? In both V6 and I-4 models? No article is clear on this. Are my simple needs too basic for the US market? There are plenty of options outside the US for such vehicles.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  14. you sold im picking on up today!!!
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  15. Simpleton, the base model manual will only be available in the 2.4L I4 and will not be available with AWD. The 6 speed transmision in these are great! They now come with a fully sealed transmission that doesn't require any maintanence until 100K miles which is great for saving money as opposed to spending 3-400 every 50-60k miles for a flush and top off.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  16. I picked one up on tuesday and now I'm seeing commercials for other cars similar so I'm comparing and for what I got and the prices I'm happy.The other cars START at what I got mine for fully loaded. I love it!!And kia has the Best warranty. The only prob was out of 3 different dealerships they only had one car that had the sunroof. Thats the one i got. hehe :)
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  17. Before purchasing the 2011 Sorento last Wednesday I looked at the Toyota Rav4, Honda CR-V,Hundai Sante Fe, Chev Traverse, and the Ford Edge. I bought the 2.4L LX version without the 4 wheel or all wheel options. I absolutely love my new cross-over and can't wait to drive it to and from work everday (not so much the work part). I live around the Ann Arbor, MI area and we get the occasional snow storm, so I knew I was taking a chance in cheaping out and not going with the AWD or 4WD. I had the first test of its winter weather performance on Monday morning with a 8-10inch snow storm (before my flight to Minneapolis, of course), which caked the roads with about 1-2 inches of ice and other winter-related crud. I was extremely impressed with the distance to stop when approaching an icy itersection, the ability of the vehicle to stay on track while driving at reasonable winter speed (40-45ish), and what happened when I hit a large pile of snow, slush, and winter crud on the highway at 65mph. This similar scenario caused my wife to do a 360 on the highway earlier this winter in her Impala. The electronic stability control is awesome! I feel even more safe and I stand by my decision to purchase my the 2011 Sorent (first import purchase ever..I'm a long time GM buyer, being from near the Motor City) as well as not splurging for the AWD or 4WD.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  18. Just leased the 2011 Sorento (4 cylinder FWD-automatic base model, white/beige fabric interior). Me and my wife (but mostly me) LOVE THIS CAR/TRUCK/CROSSOVER...WHATEVER! It's pretty, sleek, smooth and FUN. I had a 2008 Kia Sportage LX(which we loved for our first new car), and this is a more than upgrade to that. Our lease is $110 more ,but I was able to end my Sportage lease 16 months early. I'm really excited and can't stop looking at/driving my new...vehicle. You get so much in the basic model..you don't really need to add much (although the sunroof looks really great)..just doesn't fit into our budget to add more. Kia, you guys really know what you're doing.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  19. The 6-7 seats are a great option for familys who need the space and want the AWD
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

 

Have an opinion? Join the conversation!

Advertisement
Advertisement
Take Us With You!
   
Advertisement

More From High Gear Media


 
 
© 2014 The Car Connection. All Rights Reserved. The Car Connection is published by High Gear Media. Stock photography by Homestar, LLC. Send us feedback.