Interior Design and Special Features

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.

Driving Impressions

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.

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