The 2012 Kia Sorento is a carryover from the all-new crossover SUV that debuted in 2011, but there are a few nice improvements. Mainly, Kia has added an optional “GDI” direct fuel injection engine, increasing the power from 175HP to 191HP and increasing the fuel economy by a couple miles per gallon at the same time! In front wheel drive trim, the new 4-cylinder engine delivers an impressive 22 city, 32 mpg highway and 25mpg overall based on EPA estimates! The Sorento is a little roomier than its typical competition in the compact SUV class and almost as big as the smaller midsize SUVs. Is that big enough for your family? Read on!
I tested the EX AWD version with the Premium Package, including the third row seat, leather trim, power folding mirrors, power seats with memory, NAV with traffic, Infinity sound and a few other perks. The downside of opting for AWD and/or the V6 engine is the lower fuel economy. Mine was rated at 21/28/23 but managed only around 15-17mpg around town during my short time driving it. Granted, this was for a very short number of miles in cold weather, based only on the trip computer. Hardly scientific, I know. If you get both the V6 and AWD, the price and fuel economy become similar to larger midsize SUVs. For example, even with the 2.4 liter, 4-cylinder GDI engine, my AWD tester had a sticker price of $32,300.
Size is both a benefit and drawback of the Sorento. The benefit is that the Sorento maneuvers around town and into parking spaces better than most midsize SUVs. The price is right, too, so you get a little more space and an optional 3rd row of seating for no more money than most compact SUVs like Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V. The drawback compared to midsize SUVs (like Buick Enclave or Honda Pilot) is that the shorter length comes right out of the legroom and cargo space in the 2nd and 3rd rows. That means some seating compromises compared to midsize sport utes.
The second row of seating is barely larger than what you’d find in most compact cars. There are shoulder belts and adjustable head restraints in all three seats, but no rear shoulder belts offer a height adjustment.