Kia keeps designing winners, and the all-new 2011 Sorento crossover utility vehicle (CUV) is a case in point. In February, Kia announced that it had sold more than 100,000 new Sorentos in just its first year of production at the carmaker’s first U.S.-based manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia. The numbers continue to impress: The Sorento accounts for more than 30 percent of Kia’s sales volume, crowning it the company’s bestselling vehicle.
The new 2011 Sorento quickly earned a string of awards as it bolted to Kia’s sales crown. For example, Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com named Kia’s CUV one of the “Top Ten Family Cars of 2011” while Consumer Guide Automotive rated it a “Best Buy” for 2011. Time and again, award juries have lauded the Sorento for its superior value, safety and style – attributes elemental to Kia’s consistent monthly sales and overall-market-share growth since 2009.
The standard engine on the Sorento is a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder good for 175 hp. This article’s focus will be models equipped with the available 3.5-liter V6 pow
erplant. Kia sells the six-cylinder Sorento in three versions: LX V6 (MSRP $25,595), EX V6 and the SX V6.
Lauded as “smooth and powerful” in a review by Edmunds.com, the 3.5-Liter V6 makes 276 hp, tops in this segment, and features Dual Overhead Cams and Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing. Power flows to the front wheels through a standard, electronically controlled six-speed automatic with Sportmatic® mode for clutch-free manual shifting. Remarkable in a vehicle weighing 3,896 pounds, the Sorento V6’s powertrain pairing returns an EPA-rated 26 mpg on the highway.
Full-time All-Wheel Drive (AWD) with Lockable Center Differential is available on all three V6 models. Fuel economy in AWD models keeps pace at up to 25 highway mpg. V6 models deliver a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.
Credit for the Sorento’s secure, precise ride and handling goes to its responsive hydraulic steering and fully independent suspension. The CUV’s advanced airbag system contributed to its selection as a “Top Safety Pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), as did its full slate of standard driver-assistance technology. Four-wheel Antilock Disc Brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), as well as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control (TCS), are onboard to keep you safe at speed. Hill Start Assist Control (HAC) and Downhill Brake Control (DBC) also make the cut.
Underscoring the Sorento’s versatility, all V6 models accommodate up to seven passengers thanks to a standard 50/50-split folding third-row seat. Lowering the third and second rows delivers 72.5 cubic feet of cargo space.
Value-laden, the LX V6 offers an abundance of standard features including 17-inch alloy wheels, a USB Port, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system equipped with SIRIUS Satellite Radio (includes three months of complimentary service) and steering-wheel-mounted audio, cruise and Bluetooth Wireless Technology controls. The available Convenience Package brings upscale touches such as foglamps, heated front seats, a Backup Warning System and a Rear View Mirror with Backup Display.
Standards on the EX V6 include foglamps, 18-inch alloy wheels, an eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support, Dual-zone Automatic Climate Control with Ionized Air Filtration, Push Button Start, rear air conditioning and a sonar-based Backup Warning System. Along with heated front seats, the optional Premium Package 2 outfits the EX V6 with roof rails, leather trim seats, a Rear-View Backup Camera and a Panoramic Sunroof (also available on the SX V6).
You can choose between two optional Limited Packages on the EX V6. They deliver such highlights as 18-inch chrome-finish alloy wheels, a Navigation System with Real-Time Traffic and a premium 10-speaker Infinity® audio system. There’s also a Rear Entertainment System that features a DVD player with overhead screen and headphones.
The SX V6 gathers all the standards from the LX and EX – plus most of the upscale items from the Limited Packages – and adds such exclusives as stainless-steel sport pedals, a special gauge cluster, 18-inch mirror-finish alloy wheels and an Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror with HomeLink wireless remote connectivity.
In concluding its review of the Sorento CUV, Edmunds.com pronounced it “one of the best affordable crossovers on the planet,” further proof that 100,000 buyers and counting can’t be wrong. If you’d like to sample the value, functionality, safety and comfort those buyers found so irresistible, schedule a test drive of the all-new 2011 Kia Sorento V6 lineup.