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Kia Sorento an affordable, versatile crossover SUV

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Kia-Sorento

Like many offerings in the Kia lineup, the Sorento has distanced itself from its modest beginnings when the Korean automaker produced mainly affordable cars that often came with a "cheap" tagline.

Kia vehicles are now very well respected and are giving both Honda and Toyota some major competition.

Two years ago, the Kia Sorento redesign transformed this midsize sport utility vehicle from a truck-based model to a car-like body. The result: The Sorento now delivers a comfortable ride, which is what the majority of midsize SUV owners desire.

Despite the redesign, the Sorento has added a few changes, although nothing too significant. A new base four-cylinder model joined the Sorento lineup last year that adds both improved performance and gas mileage. There are also several options that can be added to this crossover SUV that seats between 5-7 people.

There aren't many solid SUVs that one can drive off the lot in the $20,000 range. Yet that can be done with the Sorento where the base model is an appealing $23,150. What's also appealing from a money perspective is the possible repair savings due to Kia's terrific drivetrain warranty of 10 years or 100,000 miles.

This SUV has some serious competition in the Toyota Highlander, Dodge Journey, Honda CRV, Chevrolet Equinox and the Hyundai Santa Fe, which is produced by Kia's parent company.

The Sorento is offered in four-cylinder and V6 engines with a lot of variety, depending on your desires. Although the Sorento offers third-row seating, it's not that spacious, but is a little more tolerable for its occupants than similar SUVs.

The changes in the Sorento included a stylish grille and attractive headlights. Also new is the punch that a Sorento can provide. Three of its models feature a 3.5, V6 with 276 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque that is capable of going 0-60 mph in 7.6 seconds.

The base model, which we tested on some mountainous terrain in Colorado and Wyoming two years ago, has some pep as well with a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder that has 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque.

2013 Kia Sorento

  • Performance: 2.4-liter, four-cylinder, 191 horsepower; 3.5-liter, V6, 276 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 20-30 mpg
  • Price: $23,150 to $31,700
  • Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles; drivetrain 10 years/100,000 miles; roadside assistance 5 years/60,000

The Sorento provides enviable handling for a modestly priced crossover. If there is a complaint, it's the Sorento feels the bumps and uneven pavement a bit too much at higher speeds.

The Sorento cabin is well thought out and provides easy-to-master climate and audio controls. This crossover is also a good one for short or long trips for passengers in the first two rows, while the cargo room is ample. A downside with the Sorento interior is too much hard plastic.

Like many of Kia vehicles, the Sorento has a lot of positives - low sticker price, good performance, solid gas mileage, and seating versatility. It definitely warrants a serious look when shopping for a midsize SUV.

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Weidel on Wheels author Jeffrey Weidel is an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region who has reviewed automobiles for more than two decades. He can be reached at skiweidel@gmail.com
Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.



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