If you're seeking an excellent SUV for the money, the 2013 Kia Sorento should top your test-drive list, based on reviews that paint it as an attractive, well-rounded alternative to more expensive rivals. With a reasonable price range, lots of of standard equipment, a long warranty and sporty handling, the Sorento has plenty to offer. The 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe (Base MSRP: $23,225 to $30,925) is on almost equal terms as value goes, but it's an older design whose all-new replacement arrives later in 2012.
The Sorento can be optioned with three drivetrains: a 175-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that gets an EPA-estimated 25 mpg combined; a more efficient, direct-injected 191-horsepower version of the 2.4L 4-cylinder; and a 274-horsepower 3.5L V6 that provides snappy acceleration. Edmunds.com calls the base 4-cylinder "punchy enough around town and with light loads," but points out that buyers "who regularly ferry passengers and cargo are better served by the strong and smooth 3.5-liter V6."
Occupants will find a quiet cabin and experience good ride quality, but the Sorento's suspension is stiffer than what's found in some competing SUVs. Reviewers say that what drivers get in the trade-off is very good handling and a more involving drive than is usually expected from a midsize SUV. Seating in all three rows is comfortable, though unlike several other three-row SUVs, Sorentos that are so equipped do not feature a sliding second row, which can make accessing the rearmost seats a bit more cumbersome. Once seated back there, however, even adults should find room to ride comfortably. Standard equipment includes full power accessories, heated mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity and satellite radio.
Kia covers the Sorento with a five-year 60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates
2.4L 2WD (manual): 22 mpg city / 27 highway / 22 combined
2.4L 2WD (auto): 21 city / 29 hwy / 24 combined
2.4L DI 2WD (auto): 22 city / 32 hwy / 25 combined
3.5L V6 2WD (auto): 20 city / 26 hwy / 22 combined
2.4L AWD (auto): 21 city / 27 hwy / 23 combined
2.4L DI AWD (auto): 21 city / 28 hwy / 23 combined
3.5L V6 AWD (auto): 18 city / 24 hwy / 20 combined
All ratings reflect the use of regular-grade gasoline. As you can see from the figures above, the best blend of power and efficiency for the Kia Sorento comes via the direct-injected 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with front-wheel drive. Adding all-wheel drive to the equation evens out the two available four cylinders, as they deliver effectively the same mileage estimates when configured with AWD. Again, the direct-injected engine does so while producing an additional 16 horsepower, however.
NHTSA Safety Ratings:
Front Impact: 4 stars
Side Impact: 5 stars
Rollover Resistance: 4 stars
Overall: 4 stars
IIHS Safety Ratings:
Front Offset Impact: Good
Side Impact: Good
Roof Strength: Good
Named IIHS 2012 Top Safety Pick
For additional details, see our 2011 review
The 2013 Kia Sorento is fundamentally the same as the 2011 and 2012 model years, with the only changes being in trim and options. Our full report on the 2011 Kia Sorento (Base MSRP: $21,250 to $34,850) provides plenty of details on the model range and insight into what the experts are saying.
Edmunds.com editors give an insightful and detailed overview of the 2013 Kia Sorento, detailing this year's model changes and updates and providing hands-on insight of what drivers can expect from the Sorento in its various trim, seating and powertrain varieties.
Review: 2013 Kia Sorento, Editors of Edmunds.com
The 2013 Kia Sorento is largely the same vehicle as the 2011 and 2012 models, with few major changes; the EX trim level now gets standard leather and the base trim can now be optioned with Kia's UVO infotainment system. This full report on the 2011 model provides a detailed summary of what reviews say about the Sorento, and links back to all of the source materials from which those conclusions were gleaned.
Review: 2011 Kia Sorento, Editors of ConsumerSearch.com, July 2011
The 2013 Kia Sorento is offered with a choice of two 4-cylinder engines or a V6, each offered in two-wheel or all-wheel-drive configurations. Depending on how the Sorento is equipped, drivers can expect to see anywhere from 20 to 25 mpg in overall driving, based on EPA estimates.
Review: 2013 Kia Sorento, U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency
NHTSA crash tests cars to verify their safety performance in front- or side-impact crashes, and also assigns every vehicle a rollover-resistance rating. The 2013 Kia Sorento is given an overall safety rating of 4 stars (out of 5) after completing NHTSA's battery of tests.
Review: 2013 Kia Sorento, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an independent organization funded by the insurance industry. It performs its own crash and roof-strength evaluations and names the Kia Sorento a Top Safety Pick for achieving maximum scores in all its safety tests.
Review: 2012-13 Kia Sorento, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety