After skipping the 2010 model year, the Sorento reappeared, completely redesigned, as a 2011 model. Whereas the previous Sorento was an old-style body-on-frame SUV, the current one is a modern unibody crossover. It was the first Kia to be assembled at the company’s U.S. factory in Georgia. This year, there’s a newly available 2.4-liter, 191-hp gasoline direct-injected four-cylinder, and the 175-hp four-cylinder, also 2.4 liters, is still around. The more powerful engine is the obvious choice, because it also gets better gas mileage — an impressive 32 mpg on the highway (with front-wheel drive) — which puts it up with the class leaders. A 3.5-liter V-6 is still available, and it delivers more punch (thanks to its 276 hp) and greater refinement, but it’s significantly more expensive, and its fuel economy is somewhat disappointing, particularly when paired with all-wheel drive. Standard equipment includes Bluetooth and a USB port. Keyless ignition, a backup camera, a panoramic sunroof, and a third row of seats are optional. The latter is cramped but might be useful for small children. The Sorento plays in the mainstream heart of the mid-size crossover/SUV market — that explains why it’s Kia’s best-selling vehicle. Although it’s a very competent contender, it’s not a standout in any particular area.

Drive: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim levels: LX, EX, SX
Body Style: SUV/crossover, 5- or 7-passenger
Engines: 2.4L I-4, 175 hp, 169 lb-ft
2.4L I-4, 191 hp, 181 lb-ft
3.5L V-6, 276 hp, 248 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 142.5-149.4 cu ft
Capacities: Towing 1650-3500 lb; cargo (behind third/middle/front seats) 33.2/80.1/141.5 cu ft

A direct-injected 191-hp, 2.4-liter in-line four and power-folding side mirrors are available for 2012. The Uvo in-car hands-free entertainment and communications system is standard on the EX. A heated and wood-trimmed steering wheel and upgraded interior trim are standard on the SX. Third-row seating for base and LX V-6 models is now optional. A rear parking aid is optional on the LX and standard on the EX and SX.

The front seats have active headrests and seatbelt pretensioners. Dual front, side, and side curtain air bags; stability and traction control; and ABS are standard. A backup camera is available on the EX and standard on the SX.

All: 18-21 mpg city/24-32 mpg highway

  • Best-selling Kia
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Seating for up to seven
  • Tiny third-row seats
  • Ride quality could be better
  • V-6/AWD is pretty thirsty

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