Kia Sorento is not a name most of us consider when we're looking for a new 4x4, but Kia does have some background in off-road motorsports (desert racing, European ice racing, and an around-the-world expedition). Unfortunately this didn't help produce anything more than a simple little Sorento for '07. Admittedly we were impressed by the power (second only to the 6.0L V-8 Sierra in acceleration) with 70 more ponies than previous Sorentos, and the interior comfort is perfectly inviting (though we'd like more amenities for $30K), but after that we felt no fire for this Korean-born SUV. In fact for some reason the Sorento we received didn't even have the limited slip we tested (and loved) back in '03, and thus we were stuck with ABS-based traction control (boo!). All in all this SUV looked and felt more like a car than a truck even though it is ladder-frame construction. Under the hood is a big plastic cover hiding the engine, the body had the type of lines so common with every other car/utility/crossover thing you see on the road today, and the ground clearance was dead lowest in the group even though it passed our crawlability index. Once again, the Kia surprised many of us on this test. It was the vehicle that had great spunk and thus made up for many of its other shortcomings. But how could such an unassuming vehicle rank so high in the toughest off-road test? Numbers, specifically things like mileage, price, braking and acceleration, and simple value for dollar. These empirical qualities and some quality on-road handling made it a real contender. However, when the Kia hit the dirt, these numbers couldn't hold up alone, but it still helped rank it up there amongst some of the better-equipped off-road machines since it could perform above average off-road. In fact, many times we were amazed how the Kia kept going. Could it have won? With better ground clearance and a locking differential or two, anything is possible. The Sorento looks to be reinvented for 2009, so we'll give you an update then.
|Model ||Sorento EX 4x4|
|Base Price ||$26,195|
|Price as Tested ||$29,865|
|Options as Tested|
Dual front, driver's knee, and full length side-curtain airbags, tire pressure monitoring, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, power door locks, and power outside mirrors, premium AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with steering wheel controls, eight-way power driver seat with lumbar, 60/40 folding rear seat, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel and shift knob, keyless remote entry, auto dimming rearview mirror, dual center console, rear cup holder, compass, trip computer, rear cargo cover, cargo tie-down hooks, under cargo floor and passenger seat storage, liftgate with flipglass, defroster, wiper washer, roof rack, foglamps, privacy glass, cladding, underbody skidplates, fullsize alloy spare, trailer hitch and wiring, sunroof, leather interior package, heated front seats, automatic dual-zone climate control, automatic headlamps, chrome outside door handles, full-time torque-on-demand four-wheel drive