2008 Kia Sorento SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Kia Sorento SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Kia Sorento Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.3 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 242 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 16/22 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2008 Kia Sorento

  • The 2008 Kia Sorento is a decent choice for shoppers wanting a midsize SUV that straddles the line between street-oriented comfort and off-road ability. For buyers outside that target group, however, there are better choices.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Impressive list of standard features, solid construction, high-quality materials, decent off-road capability.

  • Cons

    So-so fuel economy, ride can get bouncy over broken pavement, mediocre braking performance in demanding situations, disappointing side-impact crash results.

  • What's New for 2008

    For 2008, the Kia Sorento gains a new V6 engine for the base and LX trim levels. At 3.3 liters and 242 horsepower, the new power plant is smaller and less powerful than the 3.8-liter V6 found in the EX trim. In exchange, it offers somewhat improved fuel economy.

Full 2008 Kia Sorento Review

What's New for 2008

For 2008, the Kia Sorento gains a new V6 engine for the base and LX trim levels. At 3.3 liters and 242 horsepower, the new power plant is smaller and less powerful than the 3.8-liter V6 found in the EX trim. In exchange, it offers somewhat improved fuel economy.


Lately, crossovers have been cropping up in the midsize SUV segment like dandelions on a freshly cut lawn. And for most folks, a crossover -- which combines the high seating position, foul-weather capability and generous cargo space of a traditional SUV with handling and ride qualities of a car -- is just fine. However, the price paid for this jack-of-all-trades personality is reduced towing capacity and less off-road capability as compared to traditional, truck-based utes.

This is where the 2008 Kia Sorento comes in. Sporting a rugged body-on-frame structure, the Sorento can tow up to 5,000 pounds (about 1,500 pounds more than your typical midsize crossover) and can handle tougher off-road terrain thanks to low-range gearing on 4WD models. But more grunt and greater talent on the trails aren't all that Kia's midsize sport-ute offers. A generous standard features list, solid build quality, handsome styling inside and out and a modest price are also part of the Sorento package.

The Sorento was updated significantly last year with new features, styling and the current 3.8-liter V6 engine. This year, the Sorento's base and LX trim levels forgo the 3.8-liter engine for a new 3.3-liter V6 with a still-muscular 242 horsepower. The change is geared toward buyers who don't mind trading some towing capacity (3,500 pounds versus the 5,000 of the larger engine) for better fuel economy. Otherwise, the Sorento rolls into 2008 unchanged.

In essence, the 2008 Kia Sorento is positioned between more refined but less rugged crossovers such as the Chevrolet Equinox and Toyota RAV4 and more serious off-road-oriented SUVs like the truck-based Nissan Xterra and Toyota FJ Cruiser. Although the Sorento offers an agreeable balance between those subclasses, given its mediocre braking and ride performance, you'll likely be better off going in one direction or the other.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 Kia Sorento midsize SUV comes in three trim levels: base, LX and EX. The base and LX are largely similar, though you'll go without cruise control, keyless entry and roof rails on the base model. Otherwise, you'll get 16-inch alloy wheels, a 10-speaker sound system with a CD/MP3 player, full power accessories, cloth seats and an eight-way-adjustable driver seat on these trims. The EX adds a larger engine, steering-wheel audio controls, a power driver seat, adjustable headrests, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and wood-grain interior accents.

In lieu of individual options, there are two packages. The LX Sport package adds 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, side step bars, the leather-wrapped wheel and shift knob and specialized black cloth trim. Black leather seating can also be added to the Sport package. The EX Luxury package adds special wheels, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seating, heated front seats and a six-disc CD changer.

Powertrains and Performance

A new 3.3-liter V6 debuts to power the base and LX trim levels. It's rated at 242 hp and 228 pound-feet of torque and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission that allows you to choose between automatic or manual-shift modes. With this drivetrain, the Sorento is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds. The EX retains the 3.8-liter V6 engine introduced last year that pumps out 262 hp and 260 lb-ft. It's also matched to the five-speed automatic gearbox and has a maximum tow rating of 5,000 pounds.

Both trims can be had in either two- or four-wheel drive. The standard 4WD system is an off-road-oriented part-time system. The luxury package-equipped EX model features an automatic "Torque-On-Demand" 4WD system that can automatically engage the front wheels for improved all-weather performance.

As is typical for a truck-based SUV, the 2008 Sorento's fuel economy is not a strong point. Estimates range from 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway for the 3.3-liter V6 2WD version to 15/20 mpg for the 3.8-liter V6 4WD version.


Antilock disc brakes, full-length side curtain airbags, stability control, traction control and even a driver knee airbag come standard across all trim levels. In government crash testing, the Kia Sorento earned a five-star sweep (the best possible) for protection in frontal- (driver and passenger) and side-impact (front and rear) tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Sorento its highest rating of "Good" for frontal-offset crashworthiness; in side-impact crash-testing, however, the Sorento's performance was deemed "Poor" -- the worst possible rating.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2008 Kia Sorento's cabin boasts handsome, quality materials and tight build quality -- all of which lend an upscale ambiance to this modestly priced SUV. The styling of the interior has begun to look dated, but the ergonomics are sound. The seats are comfortable and the rear bench is wide enough for three adults, though knee and toe room may be tight for taller folks. That rear seat is split 60/40 to offer versatile cargo-carrying configurations. With the rear seats folded, the Sorento can hold approximately 66 cubic feet of cargo, less than most of its competitors.

Driving Impressions

With either V6, there is more than enough power for dicing with city traffic and handling high-speed cruising on the interstate. On smooth pavement, the Kia's independent front and solid-axle rear suspension provide an agreeable ride and handling balance. However, take the Sorento over a bumpy road and you'll experience a bouncy ride, and sharp impacts will make their way into the cabin. Another disappointing aspect of the Sorento's dynamics concerns the brakes. Although the actual stopping distances weren't bad in our instrumented testing, we saw noticeable brake fade after just two stops from 60 mph, which could be a concern for those who face a lot of mountainous driving.

To its credit, the Sorento's steering feel is good and body roll is minimal around corners. The truck-based frame and low-range transfer case make the Sorento capable of negotiating off-road trails, but in reality, vehicles like the FJ Cruiser or Xterra are still much better suited for rugged adventuring.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

100,000 miles in and all's

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Kia Sorento LX 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

Now that I've written this review everything's probably going to go the heck. I purchased this brand new, off the lot, with less than 100 miles on the clock. It now has over 100K. This car has been a solid work horse for me. I've had to have it in for just one service that I wouldn't be considered wear and tear, and that was when a sensor went out at about 4mon and essentially meant the gas pedal wouldn't work. Apart from that, it's been the usual things that happen to a 6 year old car that has 100k on the clock.

Gas cap - escape light

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Kia Sorento EX 4dr SUV (3.8L 6cyl 5A)

Bought the 2008 Sorrento used about 6 weeks ago. Check engine light/escape light has started coming on and vehicle will not run over 20 miles per hr. I have bought a gas cap and it still has not fixed the problem for more than a day. This is described in the book as a reason the check engine light to come on. A mechanic said the vents that vent the gas vapors can collapse. That is the next thing to have checked. I was looking online to see if any recalls but did not find any. Surely, this is not an isolated problem.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

A lemon

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Vehicle: 2008 Kia Sorento LX 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

I bought a 2008 Kia Sorento brand new. After 6 months i had to take back to dealer and the rotors had to be resurfaced so $150 later I had to take it back a couple of months later the throttle sensor went out. From there was every sensor in the car. I had to take it back to the dealersip every 3 months for a year, It has been 1 problem after another with this car. I started haveing a problem with the car when I would crank it of a morning it sounded like the motor was gonna come out of the car. I took it to the dealership and they told me it wsa just over due for an oil change (not) then they put some oil additavies in the car told me to drive it for a week and it would be fine (not) took

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Kia will not fix the

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Vehicle: 2008 Kia Sorento 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

At first everything was going fine, but then we started having trouble with our transmission. The SUV would stall and get stuck in 3rd gear. I took it to Kia several times and they could not find anything wrong, however, other places machines was showing a problem with the transmission. After several times of taking it to Kia..they finally found the problem and so called fixed it. They did not fix it...it is still doing the same thing and NOW they can not find ANYTHING wrong......

Wish i had read the

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Kia Sorento LX 4dr SUV 4WD (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

I bought a used Sorento with low miles a little less than a year ago. The car has been in the shop for a faulty transmission sensor 3 times without much of an explanation from the service department (the positive is all repairs have been covered under warranty). I wish I had read the reviews before purchasing, as the HARD shift and the passenger air bag comments would have alerted me I might not be happy with the choice. I have lost my faith in this car due to the transmission issues, and am looking at trading it in.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

This vehicle has been great

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Kia Sorento LX 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

Okay the problems that people have been stating are easily solved. The rattling in the trunk, its the jack in the back, simply put a towl back there with it, the back seat trim is just to cover the hinges on the seat. They are not that important, and the airbag sensor in the passenger seat is working the way it should be, you just have to sit in the seat the correct way. Now to the car its self. It has been great 70k and no troubles at all. I do have to say though the transmission does shift hard sometimes but its not that big of a deal. Great power from the engine, it does suck up the gas though. Overal it is an excelent reliable car to have.

Talk About The 2008 Sorento

2008 Kia Sorento Discussions See all Started By

I have a Kia Sorento 2008 and in all honesty I am not too happy with the buy. I like the model but I have been having some problems lately. I have 21000 miles on the vehicle and after having the rot...

I read your posts on the forum ( kia) which was on july 2008 .I am planing to buy a used 12000 mile sorento 2008 model .I would like to know if u are still happy with your sorento, How is the petrol c...

i have a kia sorento which i bought in 2009. it was a new vehicle, i purchased it in march of 2009. In May of the same year, I had to take it in for service because it was making a loud whining noise...

Gas Mileage


  • 16
  • cty
  • 22
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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