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Kia Sorento, 2012: More horsepower adds clout to unheralded SUV

Manufactured since 2002 and refreshed last year to begin its second decade, the Kia Sorento is a midsize crossover Sport Utility Vehicle continuing to find its niche market in the crowded SUV segment.

It offers the unique combination of third row of seating, nimble handling and impressive fuel economy for its segment, and it's among the few SUVs with more than a 30 mpg freeway mileage average.

Available in base, LX, EX and SX models, the 2012 Kia Sorento offers a first — an optional direct-injection 2.4-liter four-cylinder that adds 16 more horsepower. It's a keen addition that boosts the horsepower to 191 and gives potential buyers an dded reason to consider the unheralded South Korean offering.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

During the Christmas holiday, we drove the EX model, and found it a refreshingly pleasant combination of functionality, good looks and an automotive Santa's sleigh with a large supply of gifts via its standard safety equipment list as well as efficient and attractive exterior and interior designs.

Rear view Kia Sorento, 2012
KIA SORENTO, 2012 . . . Images © JAMES RAIA

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the Kia Sorento a 2010 Top Safety Pick. It offers six airbags as well as four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake distribution (EBD), stability control, hill-start assist control, and downhill brake control and a rollover sensor are also standard.


Functional third row.

Superior warranty (When will others learn?)

Good value.

Superior gas mileage for SUV segment.

Varied selection of standard features.

Nimble handling for size with tight turning radius.

Quick acceleration for segment.


Periodic rough rides in not-too-difficult road surfaces like the occasional pothole.

Tight cargo area behind third row.

Facts & Figures, 2012 Kia Sorento

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 9.6 seconds.
Airbags (6). Dual front, front side, side curtain.
Antilock brakes: Yes.
First aid kit: No.
Fuel economy: 22 mpg (city), 32 mpg (highway).
Government Safety Ratings: Not rated.
Horsepower: 191
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $25,950.00
Manufacturer's Web site:
Price As tested: $30,600.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/100,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.

What Others Say:

"With carlike unibody construction, secure handling, and a high level of standard and available technology, this Kia trades on more than good looks. Impressive dynamic handling and an attractive interior are but two of the many positives." —- Car and Driver.

"If you were to describe the Sorento's ability to corner, hold a line and ride the freeway, 'direct' would be it. We also noticed how well isolated the cabin proved to be from both road and wind noise at freeway speeds.” —-

"Well-mannered, well-balanced, easy to maneuver and easy to live with, the … Kia Sorento merits high overall marks as a driver-friendly travelmate.” — Kelley Blue Book

What The Wife Says:

"The third row of seats fold at a nice angle to hide packages (like Christmas gifts) completely. It's an unexpected addition to an SUV with a lot of space and comfortable seating.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

"With its strong gas mileage totals, strong acceleration, strong warranty and useful third-row seating, the Kia Sorento should be a major competitor against the Toyota Rav4, Honda CR-V and Subaru Outback. We can't figure out why it's not a major player, too."



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