2012 Kia Sorento SX: Review notes

This 2012 Kia Sorento SX is strong. It looks good inside (but it could use a little color in there) and out, there’s good pep from the responsive V6 along with decent mpg figures. And it’s a pleasant driver. A passenger jumped in last night, looked around and said, “This is a Kia? Wow!”

All signs points to Kia being on a rapid ascent.

The Sorento rides well on the freeway, planted and secure with good steering weight. The ride is just a wee bit stiff around town but nothing off-putting. And I was happy with the six-cylinder’s 276 hp. However, I would like to drive a four-cylinder version back-to-back to see how it stacks up.

Are there more engaging SUVs? Of course there are. Are there more engaging SUVs with seven seats? Probably, but this is a damn fine all-around package.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR BOB GRITZINGER: That we are stunned that this is a Kia speaks to the vast improvements the Korean automaker has made in the past decade. This really is a quite good ute, with nice upholstery across all three rows. The engine pulls hard and without any thrashing, and it stays reasonably responsive even though it runs most of the time in fuel-saving Eco mode. The suspension is steady (if a little stiff), and the styling is next-gen Ford Escape-ish.

But it’s the details in the interior that signal there’s more work to do. Everything looks good (I like the red lighting effects and especially the red ring around the speedometer), with tight fits, and it all works well. But there is a lot of hard and/or shiny plastic and lots of sharp edges that tell me that Kia still has a ways to go before it can charge this kind of coin. I suspect the plastic edge along the top of the door trim at the window edge could double as a cheese slicer–it’s that sharp.

But those are little things, and they’re fixable. And Kia is known for attending to those details once it recognizes them.

2012 Kia Sorento SX

Base Price: $35,650

As-Tested Price: $37,150

Drivetrain: 3.5-liter V6; AWD, six-speed automatic

Output: 276 hp @ 6,300 rpm, 248 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm

Curb Weight: 3,935 lb

Fuel Economy (EPA/AW): 20/20.8 mpg

Options: Panoramic sunroof ($1,500)

For more information: Check out the 2012 Kia Sorento SX at shoptautoweek.com.

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