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2012 Kia Sorento Photo
8.0
/ 10
TCC Rating
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Reviewed by Marty Padgett
Editorial Director, The Car Connection
BASE INVOICE
$20,530
BASE MSRP
$21,250
Quick Take
With the right size, the right gas-mileage numbers, and the right standard features, the 2012 Kia Sorento is an easy recommendation in the crossover class. Read more »
Decision Guide
Opinions from around the Web
Styling
Performance
Quality
Safety
Features
Mileage

When it comes to Kia's recent design direction, sharp, geometric shapes and creases are the name of the game, especially noticeable in the case of the Sorento as the eye is drawn to the vehicle's deeply chiseled window sills and rocker panels.

Autoblog »

Though vaguely reminiscent of the Mitsubishi Outlander, it's nonetheless a creased, well-proportioned and confident step away from the anonymity of the outgoing Sorento.

Inside Line »

The Sorento’s cabin has a nice mix of textures and a handsome, logical design.

Car and Driver »

Inside, the Sorento's dashboard is simple but sleek, and the subtle faux-wood trim piece that bisects it is a welcome upscale touch. The plastics are all hard, but they look good and are certainly class-competitive.

Edmunds »

Although the materials are on par with competitors, Kia hasn't perfected the finer details of texture, graining, and finishes. There's an abundance of matte black plastic where other automakers would inject a touch of style.

Automobile »
Pricing and Specifications by Style
$21,250 $34,850
2WD 4-Door I4 Base
Gas Mileage 20 mpg City/27 mpg Hwy
Engine Gas I4, 2.4L
EPA Class Sport Utility Vehicle - 2WD
Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity 5
Passenger Doors 4
Body Style Sport Utility
See Detailed Specs »
8.0 out of 10
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The Basics:

An also-ran in family crossover vehicles until last year, the latest Kia Sorento is a value-rich wagon that just happens to have all-wheel drive, if you need it, and a V-6, if you can't live without one. But even as a front-driver, with an economical four-cylinder, the Sorento makes a serious case for itself with excellent interior space, above-average gas mileage, and relaxed road manners.

Kia's rapid improvement in styling makes the Sorento a design to notice. It's not overtly trucky, nor is it too soft and curvaceous--it strikes a handsome middle ground between the opposite ends of the crossover spectrum. It's neatly organized inside, too, with only the hard feel of its plastics taking away from its tidy good looks.

Choosing the right Sorento means knowing how you'll use it. For most of today's crossover drivers, the front-drive, four-cylinder version with direct injection is a fine choice. Skip the manual transmission and the base four-cylinder: the 191-hp four spins sweetly enough, and delivers as much as 30 mpg highway according to the EPA's ratings, with a well-sorted shift quality and good handling that gives more weight to comfortable ride than to even moderately brisk cornering. Opting into the V-6 version is something we'd reserve for drivers who tow on occasion, or for those who regularly run the kiddie carpool and use all of the available seats.

The base Sorento comes out of the Georgia assembly plant as a five-seater, and even for adults, those seats have ample leg room and good head room. The seats themselves are supportive--even better when they wear leather--but the third-row bench is only for those under five feet tall, with the dexterity to jump into the way-back, and the distractions to ignore the low seating position. Cargo space is fine, mostly, but a seven-row model with the back row raised won't leave much room behind for any cargo.

Strong safety scores from both the Feds and the IIHS put the Sorento in good stead with the competition, as does the array of standard equipment--air conditioning, power features, Bluetooth, satellite radio and a USB port are present and accounted for on every version. If you get spendy, the SX offers standard navigation, leather, and has an available panoramic roof, but prices zoom past the $30,000 mark.

Likes:

  • Right niche, right time
  • V-6’s brisk pace and fuel economy
  • Good passenger and cargo space
  • Optional flat-folding third-row seat
  • USB, Sirius, and Bluetooth are standard

Dislikes:

  • Dash plastics not premium-grade
  • Handling on the soft side
  • Frugal four-cylinder not so fast
  • Third-row seat is kids-only
Next: Interior / Exterior »
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