2011 Kia Sorento Preview

FAST FACTS
  • All-new, second-generation model
  • Now considered a crossover SUV thanks to unibody construction
  • Four- or 6-cylinder engine
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Seven-passenger seating
  • Greater leg and head room
  • Larger cargo area
  • Free 3-month satellite radio subscription
  • Standard USB and auxiliary audio input jack
  • Standard Bluetooth hands-free communication system
  • Available back-up camera
  • Available panoramic sunroof
  • Available voice-activated navigation system
  • Available air purification ionizer
  • Available push-button keyless ignition system
  • 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty
  • Assembled in West Point, Georgia
  • On sale in January of 2010

Introduction

2011 Kia SorentoThe Kia Sorento arrived in U.S. showrooms in 2003. Riding on a truck-based body-on-frame platform, the first-generation model was a compact sport utility vehicle (SUV) with seating for 5 passengers. Under the hood was a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, rated at 192 horsepower, connected to a 4-speed automatic transmission. Kia offered the Sorento with rear- or 4-wheel drive, the latter with a rugged limited-slip rear differential and lower-range gearing. The Sorento was refreshed in 2007 when the Korean automaker made cosmetic and option changes to the 4-door SUV, and increased the engine size to a 3.8-liter V-6. Kia also introduced a less powerful, but more efficient, 3.3-liter V-6 powerplant.

Debuting at the 2009 Seoul Motor Show, the all-new 2011 Kia Sorento is a significant departure from the previous model. The new Sorento features a unibody platform shared with corporate siblings from Hyundai, the Santa Fe and Hyundai Veracruz midsize crossover SUVs. With a car-like ride, the Sorento offers seating for up to 7 passengers, a choice between front- or all-wheel-drive drivetrains, and either a 4-cylinder or V-6 engine.

The new 2011 Kia Sorento will be manufactured in a new factory located in West Point, Georgia and is slated to arrive in dealerships in January of 2010.

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2011 Kia Sorento

Design

The 2011 Kia Sorento's styling is a departure from its predecessor, thanks in part to the longer bodywork designed to accommodate two additional passengers in a third-row seat. The front overhang has been extended in the new model, and the greenhouse is more clearly defined to accentuate the larger cabin. Prominent arches flare over each wheel well, and character lines in the sheetmetal replace the previous model's trim and molding. The front of the new vehicle features Kia's signature grille with wraparound headlamps and oversized fog lamps, giving the SUV a much more aggressive look.

The interior is also completely redesigned, the driver facing a sweeping dashboard and a thick-rimmed steering wheel under an available panoramic sunroof. A new, optional 6.5-inch widescreen infotainment/navigation screen sits prominently in the middle of the center console above the climate controls. The standard audio system offers MP3 and iPod connectivity, a USB port, and a built-in external amplifier. Sirius satellite radio is standard, with a free 3-month subscription to service. People who need to communicate on the go will appreciate the Sorento's standard Bluetooth hands-free connectivity.

In addition to its new 7-passenger seating capacity, the 2011 Kia Sorento offers a much more spacious cabin. Occupants in all three rows will enjoy greater leg room, head room, and shoulder room when compared to the outgoing model. Kia says luggage space has also been increased by 15 percent as the tailgate has been moved back several inches. There's also an available air purification ionizer available on the new Sorento.

Hardware

Two engines are available on the 2011 Sorento. The standard powerplant is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder rated at 172 horsepower. A larger, 3.5-liter V-6 engine offering 273 horsepower increases towing capacity. Either engine is paired with a new 6-speed automatic transmission sending power to the front wheels. All-wheel drive is optional. Notably, Kia's powertrain warranty covers problems for the first 10 years or 100,000 miles of ownership, whichever comes first.

Suspension is MacPherson strut, tuned for a car-like ride and an improved on-road driving experience compared to the outgoing Sorento, Kia says. The suspension has also been slightly lowered to improve handling and reduce body roll, according to the maker. Contributing to the revised road manners is a lower center of gravity, thanks to the new unibody chassis. Furthermore, the steering has been adjusted to be more direct in order to deliver an improved road feel, the company adds. All 2011 Kia Sorentos are fitted with front and rear anti-lock disc brakes.

2011 Kia Sorento

Safety

The 2011 Kia Sorento features all-new construction manufactured with 70 percent high-tensile-strength steel to offer additional rigidity and passenger safety, Kia says. In addition, an integrated B-pillar rollover hoop is built into the overhead structure to prevent the cabin from being crushed if the vehicle should roll onto its roof, the automaker claims.

All 2011 Kia Sorento models are fitted with frontal-impact, side-impact, and side curtain air bags; electronic stability and traction control; and a tire-pressure-monitoring system. Kia claims the Sorento is designed to achieve the top scores in both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests, although the Sorento had not been tested by the agencies at the time this preview was published.

Technology

New for the 2011 Sorento is the Kia Reversing Safety Camera. The system utilizes a small camera mounted on the tailgate that is fitted with a 130-degree wide-angle lens. When the Sorento is placed in reverse gear, images from the camera are displayed on a 3.5-inch LCD display set within the rearview mirror. Unlike most backup camera systems-which force the driver to look down at the navigation screen while backing-Kia's Reversing Safety Camera keeps the operator of the vehicle looking up and through the rearview mirror during the maneuver.

Every 2011 Kia Sorento is equipped with Bluetooth hands-free calling and communication, USB port, and an auxiliary audio jack to make playing an iPod easier. A voice-activated navigation system is optional on the Sorento for the first time, and Kia includes a free 3-month subscription to Sirius satellite radio for every buyer. The Sorento can also be equipped with a keyless ignition and locking system as an option.