2011 Kia Sorento EX AWD

The thing about the Kia Sorento: It is surprising in two ways, one pleasant and one, well, surprising.

The thing about the Kia Sorento: It is surprising in two ways, one pleasant and one, well, surprising.

And this has nothing to do with the “The Power to Surprise” tagline that the company uses.

First, the good one. You’d think that if you were piloting a seven-seat 4x4 crossover utility vehicle that, unless you were facing downhill on a 45% hill with a gale-force wind at your back the 3,935-lb. vehicle would be rather reluctant to get up and go. But quite the contrary. When I first depressed the accelerator, the morpheme whoa! emerged quite unexpectedly. This is not going to win any drag races from traffic lights, but it isn’t going to make you think that you’ve given up any semblance of speed for utility.

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But now to the second one. First let me hasten to point out that the Ebony Black Sorento has a fresh exterior presence. And that in the EX trim there is plenty of amenities, ranging from the chassis-related (electronic stability control, traction control system, downhill brake control, hill assist control, etc.) to the comfort related (power driver’s seat with lumbar control, Bluetooth, 60/40 split folding and reclining second-row seats, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, etc.). More, that the vehicle as-driven had three option packages: Limited ($2,000), which adds navigation, rear-view camera display, Infinity audio with 10 speakers, and Buick-like 18-in. alloy wheels; Premium Package 2 ($2,700), which includes a panoramic sunroof, leather seat trim for the first and second rows, and heated front seats; and an electrochromatic mirror with compass and Homelink ($250). The destination and delivery charge: $750.

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The bottom-line for this car with its 3.5-liter, 24-valve, DOHC V6 engine; six-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic shifting; disc brakes all around; all-wheel-drive with a locking center differential; and more, is, all in, $34,840.

That’s right, approximately $35K for the Sorento.

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However, if I were to add a third surprise, it would be that the CUV, which is produced at the Kia manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia, USA, is, through October 2010, by far the biggest-selling vehicle in the company’s lineup: 88,783 were sold. The second-place model is the compact Forte, at 57,482 units.

While we don’t know how many of those 88,783 were EX models and how many were somewhere in the base model vicinity (the base MSRP is $20,995).

But here’s surprise #4: there is actually a trim level above the EX, the SX, which has an MSRP of $33,895.

Yes, the Kia Sorento lineup is nothing if not surprising.

Selected specs

Engine: 3.5-liter, DOHC, 24-valve V6

Material: Aluminum block and head

Horsepower: 276 @ 6,300 rpm

Torque: 248 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm

Transmission: Six-speed automatic with Sportmatic

Overall length: 183.9 in.

Wheelbase: 106.3 in.

Width: 74.2 in.

Height: 69.1 in.

Interior volume: 149.4-cu. ft.

Cargo volume (all rows down): 72.5 cu. ft.

Fuel economy: 19/25 mpg.