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2004 KIA Sorento - Long-Term Review

Off Road
Rick Pewe
| Four Wheeler Network Content Director
Posted March 1, 2005

Piling On The Test Miles

Back on our 2003 4x4 of the Year test, we picked the '03 Lexus GX 470 as the winner, and got plenty of flak about our choice. After a year of driving we still thought it was a good choice, but what really intrigued us was the '03 Kia Sorento, which came in fourth-and was half the cost of the Lexus. We decided a long-term test of the Sorento was in order, and received an '04 model a bit different from our previous test rig. With the addition of the luxury options and the EX package, we came in a little higher at $27,635, but felt the added upgrades were worth it. After 25,000 miles of hammering on it and driving till dawn, it was time to return the little guy, and we were definitely sorry to see it go.

As we noted back then, the Sorento was a vehicle with a "do nothing wrong" performance rating-a rig that consistently matched the other contestants in the crowded field except in the gadgetry department. After driving the Sorento for a year, we appreciate the lack of techno-crap that just isn't needed, while all the basic luxo-mods are really appreciated. The full-time four-wheel drive is always appreciated on mountain roads, dirt forays, and horrendous downpours. With the limited-slip rear end, this 4x4 can continue playing while lesser SUVs get hung up on dirt berms and center medians. The interior is as comfortable and durable after a year of thrashing as on the first day, and thousand-mile road trips are still looked forward to instead of detested as a chore.

For the '05 model year Kia has left the Sorento relatively unchanged, except for an automatic or manual five-speed option and a new selection of colors. We tested the '05 out for a few weeks as well, and found the same great quality construction, powerful V-6 engine, and superb overall performance. However, we much prefer the auto over the stick unless we were trying for maximum fuel economy, which is in the high teens anyway. Overall, the Kia Sorento is the right rig to buy if you need this combination of style, economy, and performance while still retaining incredible off-road performance from such an unlikely contender.

KIA SORENTO SPECS
ENGINE
Type DOHC 24-valve 60-degree V-6
Displacement (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/213
Bore & Stroke (inches) 3.66x3.38
Compression Ratio 10:1
Induction Type Multiport fuel injection
Fuel Required (oct)/Capacity (gal) 87/21.1
SAE Peak Horsepower 192 @ 5,500 rpm
SAE Peak Torque (lb-ft) 217 @ 3,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION
Type 4-speed automatic overdrive
Model Aisin Warner
Ratios First: 2.{{{80}}}:1; Second: 1.53:1;
Third: 1.00:1; Fourth: 0.70:1; Reverse: 2.39:1
TRANSFER CASE
Type 2-speed full-time
Model Borg-Warner electronic shift
Low-Range Ratio 2.48:1
AXLES
Front Type IFS
Rear Type Solid, with Eaton
carbon-fiber limited slip
Hubs N/A
Ratio 4.66:1
SUSPENSION
Front Upper and lower A-arms/coils
Rear Live axle, four-link with coils
Steering
Type Power assist rack-and-pinion
Turns Lock-to-Lock/Ratio 3.66/N/A
Turning Radius (feet) 36.4
WHEELS
Size (inches) 16x7
Material Cast-aluminum
TIRES
Size P245/70R16
Brand Hankook R407
BRAKING SYSTEM
Front 11.8-inch discs with ABS
Rear 12.4-inch discs with ABS
60-0 mph performance (feet) 137.74
Weight (pounds)
Curb Weight 4,255
Advertised GVWR 5,644
MILEAGE
EPA Estimate (city/hwy. mpg) 15/18
As Tested (mpg) 10.68
ACCELERATION
Standing 1¼4-mile (sec. @ mph) 19.18 @ 74.34
DIMENSIONS (INCHES)
Wheelbase 106.875
Overall Length 179.75
Overall Width 82.5
Overall Height 69
Front/Rear Track {{{62}}}.375/62.25
Front/Rear Overhang 33.5/40.125
Min. Front Ground Clearance 7.25

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