2011 Kia Sorento

2011 Kia Sorento

Episode 2920
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

It’s a clear sign of the times. Kia, responding to current market tastes, has redesigned their compact Sorento without its original body-on-frame SUV chassis, opting instead for a crossover utility unibody. Now Kia hopes this move will greatly expand the Sorento’s appeal. But does being more like a car, and less like a truck, make for a better Sorento?

Besides its chassis transformation, the second generation 2011 Kia Sorento is also the Korean brand’s first vehicle to have its assembly transferred to American soil. That takes place at a huge new facility in West Point, Georgia.

Still, Sorento enters an already crowded compact CUV segment, and faces stiff competition from other quality entrants like the Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, and also new Chevrolet Equinox. Like the Equinox, the Sorento is called a compact, but it’s nearly mid-size both outside and inside. Using a chassis shared with the Hyundai Santa Fe, Sorento’s length of 183.9 inches is over three inches longer than before, if slightly lower for better aerodynamics.

The totally refashioned exterior echoes Kia’s new, bolder, front-end theme begun with the Forte. The grill and flared-back headlights form a continuous arch that is most appealing.

Based on the KND-4 concept from the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show, the production Sorento has a similar sweeping profile and athletic stance. Roof rails are optional. The rounded rear-end also exudes lots of presence, with large LED taillights that extend into the liftgate.  Wheels are 17 and 18-inch alloys, with a mirror finish optional on top EX trim.

While the original Sorento offered a pair of V6s, the 2011 allows a more varied choice. Standard is a 2.4-liter inline-4 shared with the Forte SX. Output is 175 horsepower and 169 pound-feet of torque.

Optional is an all-new 3.5-liter V6 with a best-in-class 276 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. But even with it, trailer towing takes a beating: 3,500 pounds, down from 5,000 last year.

A six speed manual is standard with the I-4. Kia’s first home-grown six-speed automatic is an option, and standard with the V-6. A single speed four-wheel drive system with locking center differential can be fitted to either engine. And, even with front drive, useful Hill Start Assist and Downhill Brake Assist are included.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for our front-drive four-cylinder automatic are good at 21 city/29 highway on regular gas. We saw a respectable 24.3 miles per gallon in real world driving. But, you do pay for that efficiency on the track. Our I-4 Sorento huffed from 0 to 60 in a long 10.1 seconds. And the quarter mile dragged out to 17.7 seconds at 78 miles per hour. The Sorento felt breathless all the way down the track. Shifts were lazy and power-robbing.

The Sorento’s new unibody employs a MacPherson strut front, and multilink rear suspensions. Electronic Stability Control is standard.

Unfortunately, none of this helped inspire a high level of confidence in our handling tests. Steering was quick enough but with little feedback, and body roll was excessive.

The one bright spot in Sorento’s track performance was braking. The all-disc, ABS brakes delivered arrow-straight, near fade-free stops of a short 120 feet on average from 60 to 0. The pedal was firm with positive feedback.

On normal roads, the Sorento is a lot more self-assured. It’s comfortable and quiet, feeling well anchored at even elevated interstate speeds.

That comfort continues inside, where Kia used the extra body length for more cabin space and versatility. With both five- and first time three-row seven-passenger models, it’s now a big family-mover. The modern, tech-inspired dash is defined by overlapping gauges and practical controls. Our EX model’s well-padded seats came with standard eight-way power for the driver, and optional heat.

Standards include a tilt/telescoping wheel with audio and Bluetooth controls. Satellite Radio and a USB port are on board too. A 550-watt Infinity upgrade, navigation, and even a dual sunroof, are available. Our EX added push button start, and a backup camera with rear view mirror display.

Those in the 60/40 second row will find it quite roomy, with a welcomed increase in legroom. Kids will like the 50/50 split folding third row, but not adults. Behind the third row is 9.1 cubic feet of space that expands to 37 cubic feet when folded, and an excellent 72.5 with all seats down. A reversible load floor and handy underfloor compartment add to this CUV’s overall practicality.

And that practicality also speaks to Kia’s value pricing. In fact, the base price for the 2011 Sorento is down from last year starting at $20,790.  Sorento base prices top out at $29,690.

Combine that with Kia’s vastly improved quality reputation, and one of the best warranties going, and it’s no wonder they continue to chalk up sales gains. The new Sorento’s track performance may be lacking, but we have no qualms with its packaging. So, the 2011 Kia Sorento is indeed a better answer to what today’s family buyers want. And, yes, it’s a better Sorento, too.






  • Engine: 2.4-Liter Inline-4
  • Horsepower: 175
  • Torque: 169 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 10.1 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 17.7 Seconds @ 78 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 120 Feet
  • EPA: 21 MPG City/ 29 MPG Highway
  • Mixed Loop: 24.3 MPG
2024 PHEV Roundup 1

2024 PHEV Roundup

You Don’t Have To Go Full EV To Live The EV Lifestyle

Episode 4338
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

You’ve heard us say many times that PHEVs– plug-in hybrid electrics– rather than BEVs– pure battery electrics– are a sound choice for many folks thinking about owning an electric vehicle. Well, buyers do seem to have gotten the message, as while recent sales of all-electric BEVs are down, PHEVs are suddenly skyrocketing. So, we thought we’d give you a close look at the range of PHEVs that are available today.

An EV when you want it, a fuel-efficient hybrid when you don’t; that’s the reason that PHEVs are so appealing, and why we feel they’re the perfect starter vehicle for this time of transition from internal combustion to all-electric. So, buckle up for an alphabetical rundown of all the mainstream PHEVs that are currently available.

BMW has many plug-in options, starting around $46,000 with the 2.0-liter I4-based 330e sedan and its 22 miles of EV range. There’s also a 750e sedan with more than 30 miles of EV range, and an xDrive50e X5 utility with closer to 40 miles of EV range, plus a high-performance XM with 738 horsepower. For partner Mini, a small 1.5-liter I4-based setup is available in the Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 utility with 18 miles of EV range, going for around $42,000.

Ford has been in the plug-in game for some time, and currently gets a great 37 miles of EV range out of their 2.5-liter I4-based setup which is available in both the Escape for about $36,000, and in its upscale Lincoln Corsair counterpart which goes for around $55,000.

Hyundai offers a pair of plug-in SUVs, the Santa Fe priced at around $43,000 and the Tucson which goes for about $40,000; both use a 1.6-liter I4 turbo engine. It shares with their corporate cousins over at Kia. The Sorento, which starts around $51,000, and the Sportage, beginning at $40,000, along with Kia’s Niro at $35,000. All get more than 30 miles of EV Range.

For the high-rollers, Land Rover has a six-cylinder P550e plug-in option for both the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport with 51 miles of range, starting around $119,000.

Mazda is very new to the plug-in game, with their inline-six based setup just recently becoming available in the new CX-70 and CX-90 SUVs, both with 26 miles of electric-only range, starting at $41,000.

Mercedes-Benz has offered quite a few PHEVs over the years, though currently their lineup only consists of the $70,000 GLE450e SUV with a 2.0-liter I4 and 48 miles of EV range; and a $128,000 3.0-liter I6 S580e sedan with 46 miles of range. Though a high-performance 671 horsepower AMG C 63 S E Performance will be blasting onto the scene soon.

We’re very familiar with this second-gen Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, having had both generations as part of our long-term fleet. The current Outlander PHEV goes for $41,000 and gets 38 miles of EV range from its 2.4-liter I4-based setup.

Stellantis has a wide array of PHEVs available across their many brands, starting with the 3.6-liter V6 Pentastar-packing Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. It arrived way back in 2017 and currently delivers 32 miles of EV range for $40,000.

More recently, they’ve added the technology to the Jeep brand with 4Xe versions of the Jeep Wrangler for $52,000 and the Grand Cherokee at $61,000. And their most recent setup has just arrived in the compact crossover segment with 33 miles of battery in both the $45,000 Alfa Romeo Tonale and the $42,000 Dodge Hornet R/T.

All of this started with the Toyota Prius of course, which you can now get a Prime version of for $34,000 with a 2.0-liter I4 and 40 miles of range. The RAV4 Prime goes for $45,000 getting 42 miles. Plus, there’s a trio of Lexus PHEV’s rolling with bigger batteries on board, the NX450h+, the RX450h+, and the TX550h+, starting around $58,000.

Volkswagen PHEVs stick to their premium brands, starting with the $58,000 2.0-liter I4-based Audi Q5 55TFSI e quattro SUV with 22 miles of battery range.

Bentley adds electric-motor assistance to a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 for both the $206,000 Bentayga SUV, which gets 18 miles of EV range, and the $217,000 Flying Spur sedan, which stretches it to 21 miles. That same setup is available at Porsche in E-hybrid versions of both the $93,000 Cayenne SUV and $110,000 Panamera sedan, getting up to 19 miles on battery power.

Finally, Volvo has had a plug-in version of their turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 since the T8 arrived with the XC90 back in 2016. Now with a Recharge label, an updated version is available in just about every vehicle in their lineup; the S60 and S90 sedans, XC60 and XC90 SUVS, and yes even in the V60 wagon, starting around $53,000 with up to 40 EV miles.

So, there you have it, the Bs-to-Vs of PHEVs. They really are an easy way to live the EV lifestyle today, without going all the way.