- Solid towing capability
- Available four-wheel drive
- Choice of two powerful V-6 engines
- Good crash ratings
- Only seats five
- Poor fuel economy
- Jiggly ride on rough surfaces
- Trucklike handling
A price that’s much less than the competition is the strongest appeal of the 2009 Kia Sorento, which boasts good towing capacity and all-weather traction but doesn’t stack up to modern crossovers in other ways.
TheCarConnection.com's editors read the latest reviews on the new 2009 Kia Sorento to write this comprehensive review. The car experts at TheCarConnection.com also drove the 2009 Kia Sorento to be able to deliver a definitive opinion on the car, to compare it with other cars in the class, and to help you make the right shopping decision.
With the realization that most consumers want SUVs for cargo capacity and visibility, not off-road capability, automakers have turned to car-based crossovers to satisfy the SUV hunger while improving fuel economy. Kia, however, hasn’t jumped on to the crossover bandwagon yet and continues with the truck-based Sorento for 2009.
The 2009 Kia Sorento features two engine choices: a 242-horsepower 3.3-liter V-6 in the base vehicle and a 262-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 in the EX model. Both are matched with a five-speed automatic. The smaller V-6 allows a 3,500-pound towing capacity, while the addition 20 horsepower in the larger engine bumps it to 5,000 pounds. Either engine is pleasant under power, but both deliver subpar fuel economy for the class: 15/20 mpg (city/highway) with the larger engine and 16/22 mpg with the smaller V-6.
The 2009 Kia Sorento can be equipped as rear- or four-wheel drive with either engine, but the type of four-wheel-drive system depends on the trim level. The part-time system is available only with the smaller engine, and the Torque-on-Demand system that operates at all times has to be mated to the larger V-6 in an EX trim. Both are available with a low range, but that is more likely for consumers who tow rather than true off-roaders, as neither trim level is available with underbody protection needed for hardcore trail riding.
The Sorento's on-highway ride is comfortable—albeit a little jittery on rough city streets—but when it comes time to turn, it begins to show its warts. Steering can be vague on base versions, and it is not the kind of vehicle that enjoys high-speed maneuvers and rapid changes of direction.
The seats can accommodate two adults and a trio of kids quite comfortably, but three adults across in back is rather tight. There is no third-row seating option. The interior materials are good and assembled well, but the interior won’t win any design awards.
The Sorento earns five-star crash ratings from the federal government for front and side impacts, and all Sorentos come standard with dual front and curtain airbags; four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes; stability and traction control; tire-pressure monitors; and active headrests.
Leather trim and a sunroof are offered, but the Sorento is clearly not a luxury vehicle, and many cutting-edge features—Bluetooth, a navigation system, satellite radio, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system—are not available. 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; roof rails; and a keyless entry system are all on the standard features list, which means you’ll get a lot for the money.