2012 Kia Sorento LX AWD four-cylinder. Click image to enlarge
Other standard safety features on the Sorento are four disc brakes with ABS and EBD, traction control, stability control with rollover prevention, and Hill Assist: the latter prevents the Sorento from rolling back when the driver releases the brake pedal when starting on a steep hill. I love this feature!
The 2012 Sorento also has standard Downhill Brake Control. When descending an extremely steep hill, it brakes automatically, helping to maintain a steady speed. This is a feature previously reserved for high-end 4X4s like Land Rovers and Mercedes-Benzes.
I should also mention the standard rear parking sensors that beep more frequently as you get closer to the wall or curb. This is another feature that’s really worth having.
The Sorento LX with the four-cylinder engine is a five-passenger vehicle — the optional third-row seat is only available in the LX V6, EX, and SX models. That third-row seat is cramped and difficult to access anyway in a vehicle of this size; and without it, the Sorento includes a nice under-floor storage area where the third seat would have been.
Though it’s a tall vehicle, the step-in height is not too high and the door openings are large. Inside there is plenty of headroom and legroom for four or five passengers. The driver’s seat has a standard manual height adjuster and recline while the front passenger seat just has the recline feature. These fabric seats are big and comfortable and include three-temperature seat heaters, but neither have a lumbar adjuster. Between the front seats is a tall centre armrest to rest your right arm on, and underneath it is a large storage bin with a pull-out storage tray. Another open storage tray is found at the bottom of the centre stack and it includes a USB port, auxiliary jack, and two 12-volt power outlets for iPods, iPhones, and other music devices and phones. Wireless Bluetooth phone connectivity is standard in the Sorento, and can be activated with buttons on the steering wheel.
The rear seats are firmer than the front seats, but footroom, kneeroom, and headroom are generous and the seatbacks can recline.
Other than the plastic steering wheel and plastic shift knob, the quality of the interior materials is quite good. However, I found that the black colour scheme and dark grey dash trim looks rather drab. Some nice chrome trim around the overlapping gauges, the heater dials, and cupholders helps to brighten it up a bit. The driving position and general ergonomics are quite good with easy-to-reach controls and shift lever, illuminated gauges, and tilt/telescopic steering wheel with integral audio, phone, and cruise buttons. I’m not a fan of red backlighting in the centre screen, but the screen is large enough and legible enough to provide information at a glance. The audio system includes standard CD/MP3 player, satellite radio and six speakers.
The cargo area is accessed by a large, easy-to-lift hatch supported by two gas struts. Potential damage caused by loading heavy objects is minimized by a black plastic bumper and ribbed ledge protector, and the Sorento’s cargo floor and seatbacks are covered in a durable liner – unfortunately, the side walls and wheel wells are not. The 60/40 split-folding seatbacks fold down easily by pulling up on a lever on the top of the seatbacks. The rear head restraints automatically flip down as the seatback falls down into a not-quite-flat position. With both rear seatbacks down, the Sorento’s cargo volume of 2,052 L is roomier than most compact CUVs. And as mentioned, there is a hidden storage compartment under the cargo floor and the floor panels are removable.
For under $30,000, the Sorento LX 4-cylinder with all-wheel drive seems like a good all-around value. It offers a nice blend of all-season drivability, interior roominess and comfort, a long list of standard features, and Kia’s standard five-year/100,000 kilometre warranty that covers the whole vehicle. And did I mention it’s on Consumer Report’s “Recommended” list?
The Sorento is built in West Point, Georgia, USA.
Pricing: 2012 Kia Sorento LX AWD 4-cylinder