2011 Kia Sorento Review

Front 3/4 view of silver 2011 Kia Sorento
The 2011 Kia Sorento.

It's deja vu all over again.

Those of us of a certain age can remember when Honda found the magic dust and began sprinkling it liberally over their product portfolio. They went from an interesting, quirky also-ran to a company that could do no wrong and whose products you couldn't afford to ignore come car-shopping time.

Well here we are three decades later, and that's what's happening with Kia, which before they were an interesting, quirky also-ran, weren't all that interesting...so the achievement curve here is actually higher than it was for Honda.

About a month ago, we extolled the virtues of the Kia Sportage, now a fine, no-excuses small SUV. But what if you need something a touch bigger?

Well, that's where the Kia Sorento comes in. It's roomier but gets very close to the same mileage as the Sportage (21 city/29 highway to the Sportage's 22/31).

Our tester was the mid-level EX front wheel drive (all three, LX, EX and SX are available in all-wheel-drive as well), starting at $24,795. And that gets you a very well-equipped machine: DOHC 4, 6-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels, ABS, airbags and curtains all around, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, tire pressure monitoring, downhill brake control and hill assist control, dual-zone automatic climate control, power windows, door locks, and outside mirrors, an AM/FM/CD/mp3 audio system with SiriusXM satellite radio, USB and auxiliary jacks and Bluetooth.

Interior shot of 2011 Kia Sorento
The interior of the 2011 Kia Sorento.

Also standard in the EX are a multi-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support, 60/40 split folding and reclining second row seats, pushbutton start with smart key, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, auto light control, tilt and telescoping steering column, illuminated vanity mirrors, rear privacy glass and fog lamps.That's a nice package for less than 25 large. And the Kia people added three options to it:

The Limited package (Navigation with traffic data, backup camera, Infinity Audio system with 10 speakers, 18-inch mirror-finish alloy wheels and interior accent illumination)...$2,000.

Premium Package 1 (Leather seat trim in the first and second row, heated front seats and an auto-dimming mirror with display for the backup camera)...$1,500.

And a mirror with Compass and Homelink for $250.

Regular TireKicker readers know I'd almost always pass on factory nav systems (your phone can do most of what those do), but the added safety of the backup camera is a good idea in almost any vehicle...especially SUVs...and the Infinity Audio system rocked...so I'd actually go this way with my own dime....which would give us a grand total after delivery charges of $29,340.

It drives well, it handles well, it gets good mileage, and nicely equipped, you're coming in just a shade below the competition on price. Plus there's the 10 year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty and the 5 year/60,000 mile roadside assistance. Hard to go wrong...unless you don't test drive one.