2011 Kia Sorento SX Review

High-grade Sorento SX adds style, luxury features and delivers a more engaging drive

2011 Kia Sorento SX Review

The 2011 Kia Sorento is the second generation of the Korean utility vehicle. But rather than the new generation being an evolutionary product, it’s more revolutionary.  The first Sorento was a truck-like body on frame vehicle, with all the negative qualities that come with that set-up, while the new Sorento is a crossover unibody set-up with much more car-like qualities.


1. The Sorento SX gets custom front and rear bumpers, LED taillights, chrome exhaust finishers and roof rails, 18-inch wheels, a 10mm lower suspension with upgraded shocks, navigation with a backup camera and a 10-speaker Infinity audio system.

2. SX models come exclusively with a 276-hp 3.5L V6 and 6-speed automatic.

3. Pricing for the SX model starts at $32,195 or $33,895 for AWD.


The new model comes with a choice of a new 175-horsepower, 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine, or a gutsy 3.5-liter V6. There are six trim levels to consider, from the base front wheel drive with the 2.3 engine, up to the SX model, with All-Wheel-Drive and the V6 – like our test car. 

Starting with the drivetrain, the 3.5-liter V6 puts out 276 horsepower and 248 ft-lbs of torque. And even though the AWD Sorento pushes two tons, acceleration is brisk. Power comes on smoothly, and the motor is willing to rev.  It’s also quiet and has both a refined feel and sound.

There is a green Eco light on the speedometer to let you know when you are driving in the most economical way. And if you are, it won’t be hard to hit the EPA-listed 19-mpg city number, although the 25-mpg highway number is a mile or two too optimistic. 


A new 6-speed manumatic transmission works flawlessly in the normal Drive mode.  Manual shifts do come at a lazy pace, but this isn’t meant to be a sportscar. The AWD system does come in handy (especially in a Chicago snowstorm), and really adds a major degree of confidence when the traction is poor. Along with AWD, the Sorento also has a push button locking center differential for particularly sticky situations, which coupled with a rather generous 7.1-inch ground clearance makes this a great performer in the deep stuff.

Also aiding in the Sorento’s competence are all the electronic goodies like Traction Control, Electronic Stability Control, and the 4-wheel disc ABS brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution, and Brake Assist. And while the Sorento may not be rated for off-road Rubicon trail riding, it does have Hill Assist Control and a push button Downhill Brake Control for those times when you wish to leave the paved tarmac.

The ride quality is surprisingly good thanks to upgraded shocks. There’s plenty of suspension travel and damping to tackle pot-holes, and still offer a solid quiet ride. On the highway the only intrusion into the cabin comes from the tires. Steering is light and quick, and the Sorento has a tight turning circle. Cornering is surprisingly good with a 10mm lower ride height compared to the standard model resulting in body lean that is better than most vehicles in this class.


The cabin is quiet, with very little wind noise. The appointments look rich, with the standard heated leather seats that are both wide enough to be comfortable, yet bolstered enough to be supportive. The driver gets 8-way power seats with lumbar support, while the passenger seat is manual.

The center stack is dominated by the standard Navigation Screen that’s easy to operate and includes a back-up camera. The steering wheel puts the Infinity 10-speaker sound system, cruise control, and Bluetooth telephone controls at your fingertips, while dual zone heating and air controls are operated by large round dials and easy to use push buttons. At the base of the stack is a large storage bin with dual 12-volt outlets to plug in any accessories you have, plus there’s an iPod plug to run your MP3 player through the radio system, and store it right there. And while it’s hard to recall testing a car with a sound system that can be classified as being poor quality, this one stands out as being exceptionally good. 

The second row offers good comfort with supportive seats and reclining seatbacks for relaxed riding. The fold down armrest is equipped with dual cupholders. Legroom is good, and so is the headroom. The middle seat passenger will feel cramped, but it will work in a pinch.


The SX model has third row seating for two munchkins, however, you can only get to the third row seat from the passengers side. Of course it’s always safer to load the kids back there on the sidewalk side of the vehicle, but if you’re putting them into the car from your driveway, it’s a pain to have to walk around the car to do it.  There is, however, a fan control for the HVAC system back there and outlets for air flow. 

Cargo room with the third seat up is a minimal 9.1 cubic feet, with a few bags of groceries being the only thing you can put back there. But with the seats folded, you get a more spacious 37 cubic feet, and if you put all the seats down, 72 cubic feet are at your disposal. 

Styling is aggressive with a big grill and lower air intake, plus integrated fog lights.  Viewed from the side, the Sorento looks sleek, and has a rising beltline and tapered side windows to give the illusion of a sloping rear roof section.  But the roof doesn’t slope as much as it appears, so the Sorento retains the headroom for second and third row passengers.

The Kia Sorento is much like its Hyundai Santa Fe cousin in that it’s loaded with features at a reasonable price. What makes the top line SX different from the well equipped EX is 18-inch wheels, roof rack rails, the Infinity Sound System, the NAV system with back-up camera and real time traffic, interior accent illuminations, auto dimming rearview mirror with Homelink, and leather trimmed and heated front seats. And there are a host of other amenities that come standard including a 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and 5 year/60,000 mile warranty on the rest of the car. 


Along with the added features, the 18-inch wheels and upgraded suspension make the Sorento SX more fun to drive, and when equipped with AWD it’s also perfectly suited to northern climates.

The test car was priced at $33,895, and the only option was the Panoramic Sunroof over the rear seats at a cost of $1,200.

Compared to the rest of the Sorento lineup the SX trim seems pricey, but option out an EX trim model with all the same goodies and you’re looking at paying roughly the same. And besides, with Kias already competitively-priced compared to rivals, even a high-zoot model comes off as a bargain.


2011 Kia Sorento: First Drive

2011 Kia Sportage Review [Video] 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD

2009 Honda Pilot 2011 Ford Explorer Review – First Drive [Video]

2011 Dodge Durango Review – First Drive

« Back

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked