For the price, the 2008 Kia Sorento offers substantial power and excellent off-road capability.
Kelley Blue Book says that the 2008 Kia Sorento "retains the rugged body-on-frame construction preferred by off-road enthusiasts and those who need to tow heavier trailers." Four-wheel drive is an option as well, giving it moderate off-roading prowess.
For 2008, the Sorento adds a new 3.3-liter V-6 as the engine in the base Sorento LX, Edmunds reports; it makes 242 hp and 228 pound-feet of torque, and comes with a five-speed automatic. So equipped, the Sorento is capable of towing 3,500 pounds. Cars.com says 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.
ConsumerGuide did not have the opportunity to test the smaller engines, but they report that the 3.8-liter engine "is strong from a stop and has adequate passing power."
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, according to the government’s FuelEconomy.gov Web site.
Cars.com reports that the five-speed manual transmission has been "discontinued," leaving the "five-speed automatic as the sole transmission," which "offers a sequential-shifting mode." TheCarConnection.com found generally positive comments regarding the transmission, which ConsumerGuide reports as "generally smooth," noting, however, that "full-throttle downshifts can be abrupt."
The Kia Sorento’s suspension leaves a bit to be desired on rough roads. Edmunds says that the "ride can get bouncy over broken pavement," a finding also reported by ConsumerGuide, which says that while "generally comfortable and composed," the Sorento can be "stiff and jiggly over modest road imperfections...[while] larger bumps and sharp-edge ruts can be jolting [and ] large humps and dips trigger hobby-horse pitching." This may be due to what Kelley Blue Book describes as the Kia Sorento's "somewhat soft suspension" that also "displays more front-end dive and rear squat...during harder acceleration and braking." Steering is satisfactory, however, according to ConsumerGuide: "Handling is on par with most other midsize truck-type SUVs. Sorento corners with noticeable body lean and modest tire grip."
As for braking, reviews are mixed. Edmunds reports that the Sorento suffers from "mediocre braking performance in demanding situations." ConsumerGuide, on the other hand, says "the brakes provide good stopping control."