2012 Kia Sorento Comfort & Quality

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Comfort & Quality

New for the 2011 model year, the Sorento gave up its old rear-drive truck running gear and upsized its passenger cabin, making it more of a family wagon. It's the same for the 2012 model year, and a recent test drive in this year's model reminded us how the Sorento hits a sweet spot when it comes to carrying people and cargo, while still remaining maneuverable in town.

At 184.4 inches long, riding on a 106.3-inch wheelbase, the Sorento hits the middle of the crossover segment, with CR-Vs and Escapes on the smaller side and RAV4s and Edges on the larger side. The Sorento seems bigger inside than some of the bigger utes, though; the feeling of spaciousness is notable, even against something physically bigger, like the Chevy Equinox.

A roomy five-seater all the time, the 2012 Kia Sorento has two more seats on the options sheet, if you really need them.

In the first two rows of seats, the Sorento fits most passengers pretty well. Those front buckets are bolstered better than we expected (at least, the leather versions are), and the cabin is designed with plenty of head and leg room. In the second row, six-foot-tall adults will find enough space, too, and the seatbacks recline for better comfort on long road trips.

The Sorento can be fitted with a third-row seat, a novelty in the class, aside from the third row in the Toyota RAV4. We don't consider the Mitsubishi Outlander's puny third-row bench suitable for anyone other than small children. The Sorento's seat won't carry anyone taller than five feet, and the seat cushion sits almost on the floor to create what head room is there, but as a substitute for a minivan, the seven-seat model does a fair job of balancing convenience and flexibility.

On that note, the third-row seat folds flat to reveal a cargo area with a decently low load floor, and the second-row seats fold forward to expose a total of 72.5 cubic feet of hauling room. With the third-row seat in place, cargo room drops to a measly 9.1 cubic feet, and the seatback itself sits close to the rear hatch glass.

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