2011 Kia Sorento Review

Pros & Cons

  • Plentiful standard features
  • decent-sized third-row seat
  • sporty handling
  • punchy optional V6
  • long warranty.
  • Suspension tuning is a bit too firm
  • five-passenger model lacks a sliding second-row seat.
List Price Range
$5,000 - $10,995

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2011 Kia Sorento crossover SUV hits almost all the right notes, and it does so with the affordability you'd expect.

Vehicle overview

It seems like just yesterday that Kia was fielding quirky offerings like, well, the previous-generation Sorento, a traditional body-on-frame SUV that never really caught on in America. But this company learns quickly. The all-new 2011 Kia Sorento boasts the carlike unibody construction (and the subsequent carlike ride) that Americans crave, and it's got most of the other bases covered, too. Perhaps most impressively, it starts at around $20,000, pitting it squarely against perennial compact-crossover all-stars like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

The Sorento's most obvious advantage over these models is its near-midsize dimensions. Longer than both rivals, the Sorento capitalizes with an optional third-row seat that's actually inhabitable by adults for short trips; the 2011 Toyota RAV4's third row, conversely, is strictly for kids, and the 2011 Honda CR-V doesn't even offer one. The Sorento also features a choice of four- and six-cylinder engines, just like the Toyota, while the Honda is four-cylinder only.

The base four-cylinder, however, is merely adequate, which isn't surprising given that its 175 horses are tasked with moving more than 3,600 pounds of crossover. It's punchy enough around town, but sounds somewhat strained at higher rpm, and it's not as good on gas as the thriftiest fours in this segment. Another mild demerit goes to the second-row seat, which doesn't slide fore and aft like those of the Sorento's main competitors.

Overall, though, the Sorento is a highly impressive effort. Whereas past Kias have tended to be purchased primarily because of value, the Sorento is a legitimate contender that just happens to have an affordable price. In addition to the aforementioned Honda and Toyota, we'd recommend the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox, 2011 Mazda CX-7 and 2011 Subaru Forester, as well as Kia's smaller Sportage. But we wouldn't hesitate to recommend the 2011 Kia Sorento. It's a rolling exhibit of how far this automaker has come in recent years.

2011 Kia Sorento models

The 2011 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, a tilt-and-telescoping multifunction steering wheel, a trip computer, Bluetooth connectivity and a CD/MP3 audio system with satellite radio and a USB audio jack.

Moving up to the LX nets a six-speed automatic transmission, body-color heated outside mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, a second-row armrest with cupholder, as well as the option of adding the Convenience package, which includes foglamps, roof rails, rear parking sensors, heated front seats and a back-up camera with a rearview-mirror-mounted display.

The EX starts with the LX's equipment and adds 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control (with rear air-conditioning on V6 models) and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The SX spices things up with more aggressive exterior styling details, a sport-tuned suspension, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, unique metallic interior trim, a rearview camera and a 10-speaker Infinity sound system.

The SX's additional features (excluding the exterior styling elements) are available on the EX trim as part of the Premium and Limited option packages. An optional panoramic sunroof and voice-activated navigation with real-time traffic and mood lighting are bundled into those packages as well (you can also get them on the SX). A rear-seat DVD entertainment system is available on EX V6 models without the sunroof.

2011 Highlights

The 2011 Kia Sorento has been fully redesigned. Major changes include a switch to carlike unibody construction, more powerful engines and a new third-row seat.

Performance & mpg

All Sorento trim levels come standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 175 horsepower and 169 pound-feet of torque. The base model has a six-speed manual transmission, while the others come with a six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard across the board, while LX and EX models are eligible for all-wheel drive. The AWD system comes with a locking center differential to improve low-speed traction in icy or off-road situations.

In our performance testing, the four-cylinder brought a Sorento EX from zero to 60 mph in a leisurely 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. It is 21/27/23 with AWD.

Optional is a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 276 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque; it comes only with the six-speed automatic and gets the Sorento from zero to 60 mph in an impressive 7.4 seconds, which is one of the quicker times in the class. Fuel economy stands at 20/26/22 with front-wheel drive and 19/25/21 with AWD.

Safety

The 2011 Kia Sorento comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control, hill-start assist, hill descent control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front active head restraints. In Edmunds brake testing, both four- and six-cylinder Sorentos came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet, which is very good for this class.

In the government's new, more strenuous crash testing for 2011, the Sorento earned an overall rating of four stars out of a possible five, with four stars for overall frontal crash protection and four stars for overall side crash protection. The Sorento earned a top score of "Good" for its performance in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests.

Driving

As with the RAV4, the 2011 Kia Sorento is a tale of two engines. The base 2.4-liter four feels punchy enough around town and with light loads, but it struggles a bit with extra passengers and cargo. The 3.5-liter V6, on the other hand, is strong and smooth, and its fuel economy deficit isn't huge; too bad it's only available on the top-of-the-line EX.

At highway speeds, the Sorento's cabin remains impressively isolated from both road and wind noise. We're also fond of the Sorento's handling ability, as this crossover responds directly to steering inputs. This is indeed one of the more enjoyable small family crossovers to drive. The ride quality should be OK for most folks, but we've found that it gets overly harsh when the Sorento is driven over potholes and similarly broken pavement.

Interior

The Sorento's interior is class-competitive in both design and materials, with a look that is restrained but sophisticated. Dashboard plastics are hard to the touch but look good. The audio and climate controls (whether manual or automatic) are intuitive and have a substantial feel, as does the rest of the switchgear.

The front seats are comfortable on long trips and provide the commanding view of the road that crossover buyers love. The inviting second-row seat accommodates two with ease and three in a pinch. It doesn't slide fore and aft without the optional third-row seat (standard on EX V6), meaning the Sorento's not quite as versatile as the Equinox, CR-V or RAV4. And speaking of that third-row seat, it features 50/50-split-folding seatbacks and enough room for even taller-than-average adults, provided the trip is brief. 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.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2011 Kia Sorento.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

2011 Kia Sorento
redwinejl,03/28/2015
LX 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
Bought new Aug. 2011. I have 117000 miles with no mechanical problems. I am retired and put many miles on this car going from home to our kid home almost weekly. I did have an alternator replaced on recall, but that is it. I had 60000 mile dealer service performed as well as regular oil changes( I have always used full synethic), and maintain proper tire service. When I bought this car, I would have never thought of buying a Kia, as I did not think they were quality cars, but after owning this one for 4 and 1/2 years, Kia is a quality product and a car company that seems to be doing things right. I think this SUV will continue to serve me well for several more years.
Great for the Price!
Jeff Pottberg,10/19/2015
LX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
Started with a lease of the 2011 Sorento AWD. Was looking for a safe AWD for my daughter to use in college in New England. This model is great in snow and has a very tight turning radius. Didn't get many options as I was looking for a base model under $25K. I ended up buying out the lease and still like to drive it. Just came back from a 3,000 mile road trip with it and even though I have back problems. I found it comfortable to drive for long periods of time.
Solid vehicle, great pricing used.
newaccent2007,03/08/2015
LX 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
We purchased our Pacific blue LX 2.4L with 43k on the odometer. Since that time, we've only had very minor issues. The factory battery went bad at 48K, and now with 81K the sway bars need to be replaced which were cheap to order. I use the vehicle as my company car (contractor) and it now has 81K on it. The factory brakes are still about 30-40%. It's been an incredibly reliable machine, and it's used on and off road and down Amish township roads daily. Tough, durable, and reliable, and cheap to obtain too.
Best Purchase To-Date
sdolan,09/29/2014
Recently bought the 2011 Kia Sorento LX (AWD, 6 speed automatic) and it has been the BEST purchase to-date. It has a truck chassis and so, if you like the feel/ride of a truck you'll enjoy this one. Smooth shift of gears helps enjoy the ride, though you have to watch your speed; 100 kms feels the same as 60 kms and I noticed I speed a little more (accidentally) in this vehicle.

Features & Specs

MPG
21 city / 27 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
175 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
19 city / 25 hwy
Seats 7
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
276 hp @ 6300 rpm
MPG
20 city / 26 hwy
Seats 7
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
276 hp @ 6300 rpm
MPG
21 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
175 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 2011 Kia Sorento features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat3 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover17.5%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2011 Kia Sorento
More About This Model

Kia's meteoric rise to genuine respectability over the past few years has been something to behold. While GM and Chrysler were going bankrupt, this Korean upstart was busy transforming its value-centric reputation by churning out a series of all-around impressive cars. First came the likable Rondo family vehicle, and then the funky Soul hatchback, and more recently the jaw-droppingly competitive Forte economy sedan. Now Kia has turned its attention to its venerable family SUV, and at this point no one should be surprised to hear that the 2011 Kia Sorento is one of the best affordable crossovers on the planet.

Ostensibly a follow-up to Kia's outgoing body-on-frame SUV of the same name, the new Sorento is really an entirely different product, from its carlike unibody construction to its on-road-biased available all-wheel drive (the old Sorento had off-road-ready 4WD with low-range gearing). It competes in the affordable crossover segment, which has been dominated for years by two models: the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4. Kia has clearly studied these icons closely, because the Sorento shares some of their most notable virtues. To wit, the Sorento's elegantly simple dashboard layout is a nod to the CR-V, and the Sorento's strong V6, third-row seat (standard on EX V6) and ample dimensions are all pages out of the RAV4's playbook.

Indeed, our initial impressions of the Sorento leave us struggling to come up with things that need improvement. There are no obvious foibles here, none of the beginner's mistakes that we'd expect from a company that only started selling cars in the U.S. in 1994. The base four-cylinder engine isn't as impressive as the rest of the vehicle, but even so, its underwhelming performance likely won't be a deal-breaker for those on a tighter budget. Kia is really making moves these days; the 2011 Kia Sorento is just the latest example.

Used 2011 Kia Sorento Overview

The Used 2011 Kia Sorento is offered in the following submodels: Sorento SUV. Available styles include LX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A), EX 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A), EX 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A), EX 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A), LX 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A), EX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A), LX 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A), LX 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A), 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6M), SX 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A), and SX 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2011 Kia Sorento?

Price comparisons for Used 2011 Kia Sorento trim styles:

  • The Used 2011 Kia Sorento LX is priced between $5,000 and$10,995 with odometer readings between 81322 and218354 miles.
  • The Used 2011 Kia Sorento EX is priced between $5,881 and$8,588 with odometer readings between 137597 and157124 miles.
  • The Used 2011 Kia Sorento Base is priced between $5,998 and$5,998 with odometer readings between 97141 and97141 miles.
  • The Used 2011 Kia Sorento SX is priced between $6,200 and$6,200 with odometer readings between 180313 and180313 miles.

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Which used 2011 Kia Sorentos are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2011 Kia Sorento for sale near. There are currently 16 used and CPO 2011 Sorentos listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $5,000 and mileage as low as 81322 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2011 Kia Sorento.

Can't find a used 2011 Kia Sorentos you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Kia Sorento for sale - 5 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $7,728.

Find a used Kia for sale - 9 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $23,989.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia Sorento for sale - 3 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $18,801.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia for sale - 12 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $17,298.

Should I lease or buy a 2011 Kia Sorento?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Kia lease specials
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