2012 Kia Sorento SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Kia Sorento SUV

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Kia Sorento Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.4 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 175 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 21/29 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2012 Kia Sorento

  • No longer simply just a good value, the 2012 Kia Sorento is now an excellent pick for a small or midsize crossover SUV.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Plentiful standard features; decent-size third-row seat, sporty handling; optional fuel-efficient four-cylinder; optional punchy V6; long warranty.

  • Cons

    Suspension tuning is a bit too firm; five-passenger model lacks a sliding second-row seat.

  • What's New for 2012

    Fresh from last year's redesign, the Kia Sorento gains a few more upgrades for 2012. Topping the list is a new, optional four-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection for more power and better fuel economy. Also new are a ventilated driver seat, stain-resistant seat fabric and Kia's "Uvo" voice-activated control interface.

Full 2012 Kia Sorento Review

What's New for 2012

Fresh from last year's redesign, the Kia Sorento gains a few more upgrades for 2012. Topping the list is a new, optional four-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection for more power and better fuel economy. Also new are a ventilated driver seat, stain-resistant seat fabric and Kia's "Uvo" voice-activated control interface.

Introduction

The redesign of the Kia Sorento last year signaled the automaker's intent to take on the big nameplates with its crossover SUV. Starting with a switch to carlike unibody construction, the Sorento delivered the ride and comforts that Americans have come to expect from crossover utility vehicles. With the 2012 Sorento, Kia continues its determined effort with an impressive starting price that pits the Sorento squarely against crossover all-stars like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

The Sorento's most obvious advantage is its near-midsize dimensions, since it's actually long enough for a third-row seat that adults can use. In comparison, the RAV4's third row is strictly for kids and the CR-V doesn't even offer one. It's worth noting that the vast majority of buyers typically move up to a vehicle larger than this if they really need a crossover with a functional third row. But if you want something that's still modest in size, the Kia Sorento works out nicely.

Like a lot of its competition, the 2012 Kia Sorento comes with a choice of four- or six-cylinder power. The base four-cylinder is merely adequate, tasked as it is with moving 3,600 pounds of crossover with just 175 horsepower. For the 2012 Sorento, though, Kia offers an additional choice in the form of a new direct-injection four-cylinder good for 191 hp. Fuel economy is also up with this engine, and it's capable of delivering an impressive EPA-rated 30 mpg on the highway. Meanwhile, the 3.5-liter V6 continues on, a better choice for drivers who carry kids, pets and stuff on a daily basis.

Overall, the 2012 Kia Sorento is an impressive effort. Thanks to its engine lineup and enhanced feature content, it competes with its more familiar rivals on performance, not just price. Nevertheless, we suggest shopping around, since the Chevrolet Equinox, Dodge Journey and Subaru Forester are all worth a look, as are the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, which are the traditional favorites. But we recommend the 2012 Kia Sorento without hesitation; it's a testament to how far this automaker has come in just a few years.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Kia Sorento is a crossover SUV offered in four trim levels: base, LX, EX and the sporty SX. A third-row 50/50-split-folding seat with room for two is optional on the LX and four-cylinder EX, and standard on the EX V6 and SX.

The base model comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping multifunction steering wheel, a trip computer, Bluetooth connectivity and a CD sound system with satellite radio, an iPod adapter and an auxiliary audio jack.

Moving up to the LX nets a six-speed automatic transmission, body-colored heated outside mirrors with integrated LED turn signals and a second-row armrest. Optional for the LX is the Convenience package, which includes the more powerful four-cylinder engine for front-wheel-drive models, foglamps, roof rails, rear parking sensors, heated front seats and a back-up camera with a rearview-mirror-mounted display. The Convenience package for LX V6 models includes the third-row seat.

The EX starts with the LX's equipment and adds 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition/entry, rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control (with rear air-conditioning on V6 models), a power driver seat (with power lumber support), a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and Kia's Uvo voice-activated electronics interface (it's similar to Ford's Sync).

For the EX, opting for the Premium Plus package gets you power-folding outside mirrors, leather seating, heated front seats, a power front passenger seat, a hard-drive-based navigation system, a rearview camera and a 10-speaker Infinity surround-sound audio system with digital music storage. For the EX V6, this equipment is pretty much split up between the Premium and Limited packages. A panoramic sunroof and a ventilated driver seat also come with these optional packages.

The SX is similar to the EX V6 fitted with the Premium and Limited packages. It comes with more aggressive exterior styling details, a sport-tuned suspension and unique metallic interior trim. The panoramic sunroof is optional.

Powertrains and Performance

A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 175 hp and 169 pound-feet of torque comes standard on base and LX trim levels. A direct-injected version of the same engine is rated at 191 hp and 181 lb-ft, and it's optional on the LX and standard on the EX. The base model has a six-speed manual transmission, while all others come with a six-speed automatic.

Front-wheel drive is standard across the board, while LX and EX models can be had with all-wheel drive. The AWD system also offers an available locking center differential to improve low-speed traction in icy or off-road situations.

In Edmunds performance testing, the base four-cylinder accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 9.9 seconds, one of the slower times in the class. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined with the front-wheel-drive automatic. All-wheel-drive models drop fuel economy to 20/26/22. Fuel economy for the direct-injected four-cylinder is rated at 21/30/24 with front-wheel drive, and 21/27/23 with all-wheel drive.

Optional on LX and EX models and standard on the SX is a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 276 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. It's offered only with the six-speed automatic and gets the Sorento from zero to 60 mph in an impressive 7.4 seconds, one of the quicker times in the class. Fuel economy with front-wheel drive is 20/26/22, while all-wheel drive gets 18/24/20.

Safety

The 2012 Kia Sorento comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control, hill-start assist, hill descent control, front active head restraints, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags that cover only the first and second rows. In Edmunds brake testing, both four- and six-cylinder Sorentos stopped from 60 mph in 120 feet, a very good result for this class.

In government safety testing, the Sorento earned four stars (out of a possible five) for overall protection, with a four-star rating being awarded for both frontal and side-impact protection. The Sorento also earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's top score of "Good" for frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The design and materials quality of the Sorento's interior competes with the best in its class, with a restrained but sophisticated look. Dashboard plastics, though hard to the touch, look good, while audio and climate controls and the rest of the switchgear are intuitive and feel substantial. Kia's new Uvo also works very well. Based on the same technology as Ford's Sync system, it allows drivers to control various functions by voice command, including their MP3 players and cell phones.

The front seats provide plenty of comfort for long trips and provide the type of commanding view of the road that crossover buyers want. The second-row seat accommodates two with ease and three in a pinch. It doesn't slide fore or aft without the optional third-row seat, making the Sorento less versatile than the Equinox, CR-V or RAV4. But the third-row seat does feature 50/50-split-folding seatbacks and enough room for taller passengers. With the rear seats folded, the Sorento can carry up to 72.5 cubic feet of cargo, about as much as a RAV4 or CR-V.

Driving Impressions

The 2012 Kia Sorento's base 2.4-liter engine feels punchy enough around town and with light loads, but struggles a bit with extra passengers and cargo. The extra power generated from the new direct-injected four-cylinder helps, and we suspect the majority of buyers will be happy with this midlevel choice. Buyers who regularly ferry passengers and cargo are better served by the strong and smooth 3.5-liter V6.

At highway speed, the Sorento's cabin remains impressively isolated from both road and wind noise. We're also impressed with the Sorento's handling ability and its direct response to steering inputs; this is one of the more enjoyable small family crossovers to drive. The ride quality should suit most folks, but we've found it gets harsh when the Sorento is driven over potholes or similarly broken pavement.

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What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews



Don't buy the 4 cylinder

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Sorento LX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

Just bought a 2012 Sorento LX with the 2.4L 4 cylinder engine. Took it home and it drove great. It was a little sluggish compared to my 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe with the 3.5L V6 but I thought it would save on gas. I took it to work the next day and didn't even get 20 miles and it wouldn't shift out of first gear. I will be returning it within the 5 day period. Will never buy another 4 Cylinder car.



9 of 16 people found this review helpful

Always buy the big engine.

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Sorento LX 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

I feel badly for all of you that bought the four cylinder engines. I have just under 30K on my Sorento and it is a great vehicle. My family and I drove from Iowa to Louisiana and back last week and I averaged 27.5 mpg at 76 mph. This is a comfortable and relaxed road-trip cruiser. The ride is a bit stiff, but this is why it handles well. The Sorento is powerful and economical. I have to say, it does very well in the snow too.



8 of 8 people found this review helpful

Love it !!!

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Sorento SX 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

I love everything about this car. I just purchased the 2012 SX V6 dark cherry two weeks ago for my wife. It's fully loaded with all the whistles and bells you could want, its certainly a head turner and conversation starter when people see it. She drives it mostly during the week to work, so I look forward to the weekends so I can drive it. I know several people have complained about the gas mileage, but we haven't had that experience.



7 of 21 people found this review helpful

Horrible gas mileage

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Sorento LX 4dr SUV w/Convenience Pkg (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

I enjoy owning this car, and I'm satisfied with it in every way, except for the giant gas mileage ripoff. I paid an extra $1700 to buy the "Convenience Package" with the 22 city/32 highway sticker. Now those numbers have been readjusted down to 21/30, which is a big laugh. I drive like an old lady (actually I AM an old lady) and the ECO light is on almost all the time, supposedly reflecting the fact that I don't do any jackrabbit starts, stomp the brakes, etc. My normal driving is a mix of city and highway, and I don't get 21 mpg. I took it on the highway, completely unloaded, with the A/C turned off, and got up to 28 mpg going 65mph on cruise. Big woop. Kia should be closed down!



2 of 4 people found this review helpful

20,000 miles and loving it

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Sorento LX 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

Been trouble free, fun to drive, extremely agile in traffic. Meets or exceeds advertised performance numbers. Acceleration and braking awesome. Fuel mileage 30 to 35 MPG (Imperial) in county/town, and 35 to 40 on freeway at 62 to 65 mph, depending on wind. One day's travel actually 625 miles on tank (15 IMP). We know there have been economy problems with some models, but not this one. Ride is firm, but offset by great control in turns and winding roads. V6 is the way to go. Best we've owned.



5 of 6 people found this review helpful

Fun to drive

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Sorento EX 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

Have an EX with the V6. Fun to drive, but definitely have the throttle lag mentioned in other posts. Weirdest thing was a week or two ago started to get a'pulsation/vibration' under acceleration. Took it to the dealer and they found a snap-ring on the left-front had 'slipped' and was allowing the front axle-shaft to move around. They put on a new one and found that the 'correct' part was undersized. They found a correctly sized part and no more problems. The service manager said this was the 3rd one he had seen. This was at about 15K miles. Other than that, a blast to drive, handles great, good power.



Talk About The 2012 Sorento

Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 21
  • cty
/
  • 29
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
Reliability

Identifix Reliability Ratings

Rating unavailable for this vehicle

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