New Car Review: 2013 Kia Sorento

Front 3/4 view of dark grey Kia Sorento parked
The 2013 Kia Sorento.

Meet the all-American midsize crossover.

Yep, it's a Kia.

I'll spare you all the roaring up in the rearview mirror analogies that seem so unavoidable when writing about Kia's huge and so far unfailing strides from punch line to today's version of what Honda was in the 80s. Short version is this is now and so is the Kia Sorento. It's a right-sized crossover SUV, made in America for Americans and it hits the bulls-eye dead center.

Rear 3/4 view of parked 2013 Kia Sorento on uphill street
Rear three-quarters view of the 2013 Kia Sorento.

Our week in the 2013 Sorento came not long after a week in a 2012 model. Both were front-drive EX models...one notch from the top of the line. Differences? The 2013 EX makes leather trim standard. The '12 had a 2.4 liter four-cylinder, the '13 had a 3.5 liter V6. Frankly, the four is smooth and powerful enough for most driving...and there's a significant fuel economy difference: The four's 22 city/32 highway drops to 20 city/26 highway with the V6. Not a big deal in town, but six fewer on the open road is a big drop.

Apart from more frequent $50 a tank fillups (at $3.45 a gallon) there's not much not to like. Plenty of room for people and their things, a relatively quiet and smooth ride, carlike handling and a raft of features. Opt for the EX model and in addition to the aforementioned leather, you'll get a six-speed automatic transmission, independent front and rear suspension, 5-spoke hyper-finish alloy wheels, a full complement of airbags and active headrests, anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic stability control, downhill brake and hill-start assist control, tire pressure monitoring, fog lamps, heated outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, privacy glass and a rear spoiler.

2013 Kia Sorento instrument panel.

Inside, there's more: Dual-zone automatic climate control, power windows, locks and mirrors, UVO in-vehicle infotainment system with rear camera, USB, Bluetooth, SiriusXM, power driver's seat with lumbar support, push-button start, cruise control, automatic light control, a tilt and telescoping steering column and interior accent illumination.

Base price for all that: $27,950. Which, if you haven't been keeping up with Kia, sounds like a lot for the brand, but isn't. And, in fact, is a bargain compared to direct competitors.

Our tester got loaded beyond the standard stuff, though: $2,000 for the Limited Package (navigation with Sirius Traffic), an air-cooled driver's seat, memory driver's seat and mirrors, power folding ourside mirrors and Homelink)...$3,400 for the Premium Package 2 (First Aid kit, Infinity surround sound audio system, heated front seats, power passenger seat, a 50/50 split folding third row seat, auto-dimming mirror and panoramic sunroof)...$65 for a rear bumper protector...$50 for a cargo net and $125 for a cargo cover.

Grand total, including $800 for freight and handling: $34,390. Again, your brain may have trouble putting the phrase "Thirty four thousand dollars" together with the name "Kia". But try loading a competitor to that level and see what the bottom line is. And there's Kia's 10 year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty, 5 year/60,000 mile limited basic warranty and 5 years/60,000 miles of roadside assistance. It's a compelling package...and one you shouldn't ignore if you're shopping in this segment.