2009 Kia Sorento SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2009 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 2009 Kia Sorento

  • The 2009 Kia Sorento satisfactorily blends city-oriented comfort with off-road capability, but we think most buyers will prefer an SUV that favors either street or trail driving more heavily.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Long list of standard features, solid construction, high-quality materials, decent off-road capabilities, long warranty.

  • Cons

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

  • What's New for 2009

    The 2009 Kia Sorento remains unchanged from last year.

Full 2009 Kia Sorento Review

What's New for 2009

The 2009 Kia Sorento remains unchanged from last year.


Long ago, sport-utility vehicles replaced the station wagon as the quintessential family hauler. In the beginning, truck-based, body-on-frame SUVs were all there was. But car shoppers' desire for a more mild-mannered city SUV eventually gave birth to the crossover -- an SUV based on a passenger car. Nowadays, it seems like crossovers will eventually inherit the Earth. But one vehicle that has kept in touch with its traditional SUV roots is the five-passenger 2009 Kia Sorento.

The Sorento, like most traditional truck-based SUVs, is built on a sturdy body-on-frame chassis and has a solid rear axle suspension. This allows it to tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped, about 1,500 pounds more than most other small and midsize crossovers can handle. Opting for the four-wheel-drive model gives the Sorento a decent amount of off-road ability, too, thanks to its low-range gearing. This is still a modern Kia, though, with a choice of two capable V6 engines, an impressive list of standard features, attractive styling and substantial warranty coverage.

Alas, this old-school approach leaves the 2009 Sorento somewhat outclassed in terms of all-around polish. Its lackluster fuel economy, less-than-stellar brakes and trucklike ride make it seem out of touch with what most people want out of a small or midsize SUV these days. While the Sorento is a capable alternative to the similar-in-concept Jeep Liberty, we think you'll probably be happier with a dedicated on-road crossover like the Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander or Toyota RAV4. And if you really do seek an old-world SUV with substantial off-road prowess, we think the Nissan Xterra and Toyota FJ Cruiser are better and more desirable choices.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 Kia Sorento is a midsize SUV offered in two trim levels: LX and EX. The Sorento LX comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, air-conditioning, full power accessories, cloth seats and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD/MP3 player. The more powerful EX tacks on foglamps, heated side mirrors, leather seating, a power driver seat and wood-grain interior accents.

Options are conveniently bundled in two packages. The LX Value Package includes a sunroof, 16-inch alloy wheels and leather upholstery. The EX Luxury Package includes a sunroof, automatic 4WD if so equipped, heated front seats, an in-dash six-CD changer, automatic dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and automatic headlights. Stand-alone options for the EX include 17-inch alloy wheels and a rear spoiler.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2009 Kia Sorento is available with two engine choices. The base model and LX are powered by a 3.3-liter V6 that produces 242 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque. The EX receives a 3.8-liter V6 with 262 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Properly equipped, the LX can tow up to 3,500 pounds while the EX can lug up to 5,000 pounds. All Sorentos feature a five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control.

The base model is offered only with two-wheel drive, while the LX and EX can be had in either two- or four-wheel-drive configurations. 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.

Regardless of which engine and two- or four-wheel-drive combination is selected, the EPA estimates virtually identical fuel economy across the entire Sorento line. A two-wheel-drive model with the 3.3-liter V6 should return 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 18 mpg in combined driving, while the 3.8-liter V6 is rated at 15/21/17 mpg. Opting for 4WD versions drops mileage by about 1 mpg.


All 2009 Kia Sorentos, regardless of trim level, feature antilock disc brakes, full-length side curtain airbags, stability control, traction control and driver knee airbags. In government crash testing, the Kia Sorento was awarded the highest possible score of five out of five stars for frontal and side impact protection for all occupants. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Sorento its highest rating of "Good" for frontal-offset crashworthiness, but in side-impact testing, the Sorento received the IIHS's worst possible rating of "Poor."

Interior Design and Special Features

Despite its modest pricing, the 2009 Kia Sorento exhibits solid build quality with decent interior materials. The front seats are comfortable and controls are simple enough, but the overall look and design of the interior falls a bit behind the times. The rear bench is wide enough to accommodate three adults, but taller passengers may find legroom lacking. The versatile 60/40 split rear seats fold flat for about 66 cubic feet of cargo space, which is a bit less than what's offered by top crossover competitors.

Driving Impressions

With either V6 under the hood, the 2009 Kia Sorento has plenty of power for both city traffic and swift highway cruising. The suspension provides a pleasant ride and adequate handling on smooth pavement, but when the road gets rough, the ride gets bouncy, with a good deal of the bumps transmitted directly into the cabin. The Sorento's brakes might also be a cause for concern; in previous testing, we noticed significant brake fade after just two panic stops from 60 mph. Drivers who plan on any traversing of mountainous roads should keep this in mind.

The Sorento's steering feel, however, is satisfying and there's a minimum of body roll when cornering. Thanks to the Sorento's low-range transfer case and truck-based origins, off-road excursions can be tackled with relative ease, but the Sorento's capabilities still fall short of those possessed by more competent vehicles like the Xterra and FJ Cruiser.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Decent for the price

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Kia Sorento LX 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

We got a 2009 Kia sorento used. It really is a nice running car. It drives very well for only a 6cylinder. Plenty of get up and go power. The interior is kinda cheap. We have had no problems other than the rear differential going bad. Luckily for us it was under warranty. I suggest keeping a head up on the maintenance or else they may not cover parts that go bad.

Nice for the price

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Kia Sorento LX 4dr SUV 4WD (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

Vehicle is not a luxury SUV its utility. the gf traded hers in after 7 months for a tahoe ls 2007 because she wants bigger. shame. i like the drive even though it is bumpy and stiff but that is due to its design (it's not a caddy or Lincoln) i get great gas mileage almost 425 to a full tank. it has not failed me yet! solid build. love the 4wd so far but have not pushed it except for our big winter storm this past year and it worked flawlessly for me drive 50 miles a day in snow and ice. dealership has been GREAT! cant say it enough! thank you for the deal and serivce Kia of Turnersville nj!!! :)

Great buy

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Kia Sorento EX 4dr SUV (3.8L 6cyl 5A)

Had this SUV for one year now and have had ZERO problems. The 6 under the hood gives me passing power when it's needed. Inside is very well made. Gets about what I thought I would get on fuel. About 20 HWY and 17 city. I drive this SUV to work and round trip is 120 miles a day, five days a week.

This car awful!

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Kia Sorento EX 4dr SUV (3.8L 6cyl 5A)

Is anyone else as dissatisfied with their Sorento as I am? I have a 2009 with about 6000 miles on it and its already falling apart. It was in the shop today for several problems and the only one that was repaired properly was a warped interior panel didn't fit from day 1. Suspension is sloppy and car pulls badly to the right. kia claims it's in proper alignment, the drivelive jerks on starts and stops like the rear end is about to fall out of it and kia says they can't find anything wrong, and the headlights dim every time you hit the brakes. kia says and I quote "it's just the way those sorentos are". If I weren't upside down in my loan I would trade this thing in tomorrow.

Great vehicle for low price

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Kia Sorento LX 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

I bought this SUV to haul stuff that won't fit in my Accord. Love the roomy back seats that my 6'2" son-in-law can fit it comfortably. The back seats can fold down flat so I can put a large flat screen TV in the back. Great that I'm seating high so I can spot pot holes before I hit them. The 10-speaker MP3/CD player sounds great(although I can't spot where all of them are). It's a fun vehicle to drive, plenty of zip when I want it. The cruise control on/off switch on steering took a little while to figure out, but work great for longer rides.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

2009 kia sorrento

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Kia Sorento LX 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

Overall I am very happy with the Kia Sorento. It has a lot of power and rides very smoothly over bumps! The view is great fwd and aft when driving and so far gets good gas mileage 425 miles on a full tank equals 24 MPH highway/local streets!

Talk About The 2009 Sorento

2009 Kia Sorento Discussions See all Started By

I purchased a 2003 Kia Sorento new and have owned it since (daughter drives it). I've had no problems with it, now at 50k. Regular oil changes and filter changes have been done at various shops (Sea...

I purchased a 2003 Kia Sorento new and have owned it since (daughter drives it). I've had no problems with it, now at 50k. Regular oil changes and filter changes have been done at various shops (Sears...

We have "problems" discussions for most every brand here, just like every dealer you go to will have service bays so they can work on cars....

Gas Mileage


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