2012 Kia Sorento Review

Pros & Cons

  • Plentiful standard features
  • decent-size third-row seat, sporty handling
  • optional fuel-efficient four-cylinder
  • optional punchy V6
  • long warranty.
  • Suspension tuning is a bit too firm
  • five-passenger model lacks a sliding second-row seat.
List Price Range
$3,695 - $14,599

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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

Vehicle overview

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.

2012 Kia Sorento models

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.

2012 Highlights

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.

Performance & mpg

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.

Driving

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.

Interior

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.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2012 Kia Sorento.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

We love this crossover!
kiafan,09/15/2011
My husband and I leased our 2012 Sorento in July and it has been the nicest vehicle we have ever owned. We have had no problems whatsover but we have had it only 2 months! Still, it is fun to drive, comfortable, and quiet. The GPS system is easy to use and the Bluetooth works great. We were very fortunate in that we found a 4 cylinder front wheel drive model because we do not need AWD where we live, and we do not need 6 cyl. It doesn't "zip" onto the freeway but I use the manual shift for when I need a little extra power. The backup camera screen is very clear and has proven to be very helpful!
Kia Sorento LX with convenience package and 3rd row seat
motorspeed,01/05/2012
After driving the Sorento for more than 5000 miles I am very satisfied with the car. I've owned a Nissan (350 Z), Subaru (WRX), and Honda (Si). I consider myself a car guy, and now I'm driving an SUV because my family is getting bigger. Recently I did a trip in my Sorento to North Carolina from Fort Lauderdale (780 Miles one way) and was very pleased with the car. Six people plus luggage and the SUV behaved admirably. I really like the steering feel and on center behavior, the solid chassis (car based) and how safe it feels overall in handling. The 2.4 GDI engine feels with enough punch doing the task, and is delivering 23 to 24 miles per gallon. Very good package.
2012 Sorento SX AWD
wjozz5,07/12/2011
Our current Sorento is our second SX AWD in 8 months. The first was a 2011 purchased in Nov. and exchanged under our states lemon law in June of 2011 for a 2012 SX AWD. Upon receipt of our new Sorento we noticed a few new features that were welcome improvements. The passenger side power seat, multiple temperature heated and cooled seats and seat/mirror memory are nice additions to a comfortably appointed interior. The cabin is quieter than our previous model. Overall performance and handling are unchanged from the previous year. In comparison to the Highlander and Edge, the Sorento is an exceptional performer. Fuel economy is great. We have high hopes this model will last more than 8 months.
Sorento 2012 LX 2.4 Front Wheel Drive
frjohn42,05/23/2012
I have already driven my Sorento 2,000 miles in 6 weeks and I can say that its a very comfortable ride. Being a big person, 6ft 3in with a offensive lineman's build I am comfortable. I purchased the 4 cylinder front wheel drive, base model w/ convenience package, i.e. park assist on the mirror and auto dimming, remote start, heated seats, cargo net, cargo cover, sorento floor mats. I have been driving with the ac on most of the time and I have been getting about 21-22 miles per gallon city driving and about 25-26 on the highway.

Features & Specs

MPG
21 city / 27 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
175 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
22 city / 32 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
191 hp @ 6300 rpm
MPG
18 city / 24 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
See all Used 2012 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
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover17.8%
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 2012 Kia Sorento
Used 2012 Kia Sorento Overview

The Used 2012 Kia Sorento is offered in the following submodels: Sorento SUV. Available styles include LX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A), LX 4dr SUV w/Convenience Pkg (2.4L 4cyl 6A), SX 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A), SX 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A), LX 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 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 (3.5L 6cyl 6A), and 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6M).

What's a good price on a Used 2012 Kia Sorento?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 Kia Sorento trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 Kia Sorento LX is priced between $3,695 and$14,599 with odometer readings between 76796 and162502 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Kia Sorento EX is priced between $8,500 and$9,788 with odometer readings between 97341 and133601 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Kia Sorento SX is priced between $7,361 and$9,045 with odometer readings between 91546 and136779 miles.

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Which used 2012 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) 2012 Kia Sorento for sale near. There are currently 16 used and CPO 2012 Sorentos listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $3,695 and mileage as low as 76796 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 2012 Kia Sorento.

Can't find a used 2012 Kia Sorentos you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Kia Sorento for sale - 6 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $10,209.

Find a used Kia for sale - 3 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $18,234.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia Sorento for sale - 12 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $14,584.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia for sale - 8 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $21,105.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 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
Check out Kia Sorento lease specials