- Improved power
- Five-star crash ratings
- Available four-wheel drive
- Towing capacity
- Low fuel economy
- Trucklike handling
- No third-row seat
The 2008 Kia Sorento has good towing capacity and all-weather handling, but it lacks the features, the performance and the carlike characteristics of more modern SUVs and crossovers.
While many automakers have turned their mid-size, truck-based SUVs into car-based crossover vehicles, the 2008 Kia Sorento remains part of the old school--at least for one more year.
Restyled in 2007, the 2008 Sorento adds a new 3.3-liter V-6 as the engine in the base Sorento LX; it makes 242 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque, and comes with a five-speed automatic. So equipped, the Sorento is capable of towing 3,500 pounds. A larger 3.8-liter V-6 remains the standard engine on the EX models. It's also teamed to a five-speed automatic, and it gives the Sorento 5,000-pound towing capacity. Neither engine is unhappy on the go, but they produce strictly average performance--below average, if you count fuel economy of 15/20 mpg with the larger engine and 16/22 mpg with the smaller V-6.
Both rear- and four-wheel-drive versions of the 2008 Kia Sorento are offered. There are two different four-wheel-drive systems: a part-time system with a low range, and a Torque-On-Demand system that operates all the time, also offering a low range. The latter is available only on some EX models. The Kia Sorento is a sport-utility vehicle with real towing capacity, though off-roading is more of a stretch since it doesn't offer the kind of underbody protection needed for driving trails.
The Sorento's highway ride is fine, but its steering can be vague on base versions. It's not the kind of vehicle that enjoys high-speed maneuvers and rapid changes of direction, either. Inside, the seats are roomy enough for two adults and a trio of kids, but three adults across in back is rather tight. There is no third-row seating option. The interior materials are fine and assembled well, but it's not the most handsome cabin on the market.
All Sorentos come standard with dual front and curtain airbags; four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, stability, and traction control; tire pressure monitors; and active headrests. The Sorento earns five-star crash ratings from the federal government for front and side impacts.
Standard features include air conditioning; power windows/door locks/heated mirrors; cruise control; a 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system; an eight-way adjustable driver's seat; 60/40 split flip-and-fold rear seats; roof rails; and a keyless entry system. Leather trim and a sunroof are offered, but many cutting-edge features--Bluetooth, a navigation system, satellite radio, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system--are not.