Styled and sized like a modern crossover utility vehicle, Kia's mid-size Sorento SUV retains the rugged body-on-frame construction preferred by off-road enthusiasts and those who need to tow heavier trailers. The Sorento's five-passenger cabin has the look and feel of an upscale SUV, making it as equally adept at shuttling business clients as it is at hauling the kids and family dog. Of course, the Sorento's long list of standard features, a choice of impressively powerful V6 engines, easy-to-swallow low sticker price and Kia's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty are also big draws. Safety is another area where the Sorento shines, with a five-star government crash-test safety rating, full-length side-curtain airbags and electronic stability control and traction control, all included as standard equipment.
YOU'LL LIKE THIS CAR IF...
If you're looking for an SUV that's bigger than a Honda CR-V but smaller than a Dodge Durango, the 2009 Kia Sorento might suit you perfectly. Its long list of standard equipment, low base price and comfortable ride make it a good choice for the casual off-road warrior or those who keep their driving strictly on the pavement.
YOU MAY NOT LIKE THIS CAR IF...
Powered by their rear wheels, the two-wheel-drive Sorento models don't offer the level of traction in ice, snow or mud provided by their front-wheel-drive competitors. The two V6 engines perform well but deliver mediocre fuel economy.
WHAT'S SIGNIFICANT ABOUT THIS CAR
No major changes on the Kia Sorento for 2009.
On the road, the 2009 Kia Sorento seems as solid and secure as the best SUVs from Japan and the U.S, and the steering feels light but precise and controlled. The Sorento's strong V6 engine offers plenty of low-end torque and highway performance. The five-speed automatic delivers crisp shifts and rarely has to hunt for the proper gear. The Sorento's somewhat soft suspension displays more front-end dive and rear squat than we would prefer during harder acceleration and braking. However, the handling in turns does not seem to be affected in the same way, and the Sorento delivers good cornering ability without excessive lean or body roll.
OUR FAVORITE FEATURES
The Sorento's wide interior provides for a roomy cargo area and offers plenty of shoulder room.
Array of Standard Equipment
For the money, few other SUVs can match the Sorento's array of standard equipment.
This is a five-passenger vehicle, but we think that, if those passengers are adults, four would be a more comfortable fit. The Sorento's rear seats provide good headroom and legroom and allow for a fairly large cargo area behind them. The interior quality is commendably good, with substantial plastic components, rich textures and plush surfaces. Standard front and rear side-curtain airbags and a driver's knee airbag comprise a worthwhile safety bonus.
The 2009 Kia Sorento looks sharp and, on appearance alone, could easily be mistaken for a high-end Japanese SUV. The flared wheel arches, high windowsill line and wide side moldings impart a feeling of solidity, while the high ground clearance and optional Torque-On-Demand four-wheel-drive system promise good traction in slippery conditions.
NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
The 2009 Kia Sorento LX trim level includes the 3.3-liter V6 engine, a five-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), rear defroster, illuminated entry, remote keyless entry, auto-off headlamps, electronic stability and traction control, dual heated power mirrors, power windows, power locks, AM/FM stereo with MP3-compatible CD player and 10 speakers, front and rear side-curtain airbags, driver's knee airbag, fuel tank skid plate, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, four 12-volt outlets, alloy wheels and a rear wiper and washer. The EX with Luxury Package adds a 3.8-liter V6, fog lights, side cladding, power sunroof, eight-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, leather seating and interior trim, automatic headlamps, 16-inch machined alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic temperature control and Torque-on-Demand full-time four-wheel drive.
Options for the EX include Torque-On-Demand full-time four-wheel drive, fog lights, remote start and a rear spoiler. The LX Value Package adds a sunroof, leather seats, 16-inch alloy wheels and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Stand-alone options and accessories include part-time four-wheel drive, a trailer hitch and side step bars.
UNDER THE HOOD
The Sorento's 3.8-liter V6 is a strong engine with good pulling and passing power, and it works particularly well with the five-speed automatic transmission. The 3.3-liter V6 in the LX reduces weight and cost, but delivers nearly as much power as the larger 3.8-liter. Those who need to tow up to 5,000 pounds, however, will want to opt for the larger engine, as the 3.3-liter is tow rated up to only 3,500 pounds.
242 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
228 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 (2WD), 15/22 (4WD)
262 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
260 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 (2WD), 15/20 (4WD)
The two-wheel-drive 2009 Kia Sorento LX Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts close to $22,000, while the four-wheel-drive Sorento LX stickers closer to $25,500 and a fully loaded EX four-wheel drive tops out around $32,000. Before you buy, be sure to look at the New Car Blue Book Value page, which shows the typical price paid for a Sorento in your area. Also click on the Incentives tab to see if you qualify for Kia's additional incentive and rebate programs. The Sorento is expected to hold about the same resale value as its closest competitors, at or just a few percentage points below the values projected for the Jeep Liberty, HUMMER H3, Ford Explorer and Nissan Xterra.