Kia's Sorento Has Come A Long Way - Auto Types Kia's Sorento Has Come A Long Way - Auto TypesAuto Types

Kia’s Sorento Has Come A Long Way

It wasn’t all that many years ago when the name Kia and quality were never mentioned in two places:

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Kia, at the time still independent and not part of the Hyundai group, was the little car company that tried and tried and like Thomas arrived at its destination, but not without lots of drama along the way.

Look at the Sorento today. More and more major automotive sites are putting it on their “buy” lists and they are putting it up against some stiff competition, notably Chevy’s Equinox, Toyota’s Highlander and Honda’s CRV.

We can see why they’ve made the recommendation. The Sorento isn’t the SUV that it used to be. For example, when it was first introduced some years ago, the Sorento was basically plastic on plastic and had all of the finesse of a large hammer for a very small nail. Quality issues also dogged the first Sorentos.

That has changed as Hyundai/Kia (note the linkage) have made the corporate decision that they want to be taken seriously and the 2011 Sorento fills that bill. It is easily as good as any of its competition and better in some ways. For example, you can actually have two real adults in the third row where if you have the third row in a Toyota, the adults had better be very short, very good friends or children. The third row, which has been pushed by Toyota as a selling point, is not really fit for much more than large parcels and small kids or pets.

The Sorento, on the other hand, has a real, honest-to-goodness third seat. That goes with a three-person middle seat and two comfortable and supportive front seats. The driver can easily find a good seating position for good control through turns and corners and the all-wheel-drive feature (not four-wheel-drive, there is a difference – all-wheel-drive shunts power to wheels that need it as it senses slippage while the vehicle normally remains in front drive most of the time while in four-wheel-drive all four wheels are driving all the time. It isn’t a small difference.)

That aside, the AWD system of the Sorento is quite good and moves power around for great control through turns and corners. The suspension team did a great job of firming things up so that the Sorento doesn’t wallow through turns or corners, but that doesn’t mean the ride is overly firm (it was). Now, the ride is pliant and provides just the right amount of roll stiffness to give you great control.

The design team deserves credit for making a vehicle that is worthy of sale by any dealership (it’s true). The lines are modern and integrated. This is different than the Sorentos of a few years ago that looked like the design team took a bit from Nissan, a little from Toyota, a little from this model and a little from that and when they were finished they had a vehicle that really didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be when it was developed.

That day is gone now as the design team has taken the Sorento and has made it into a great-looking vehicle with an integrated front end and a bumper that is not only part of the air intake system, but is also nicely integrated into the overall line of the vehicle. The headlight modules are fared nicely into the hood-bumper-fender corner and the grille is a nice touch. Very much a muscular, yet design that’s kept the number of frills down, the line established by the slightly flared front fenders carries through the doors and body panels and on through the rear end which features a very nicely integrated set of rear light modules and rear bumpers.

The standard powerplant is a 2.4-liter four moves the Sorento quite reasonable although Hyundai has added another four that cranks out about 190 horsepower and is well suited to its task. There is also a V-6 available.

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