When the Kia Sorento was first introduced in 2002 it was a true midsize SUV. The first generation ran from 2002 to 2009 and quickly became a popular seller in the United States because of its people-moving utility, off-road capability, and relatively high fuel economy for the segment. It is now one of Kia’s best-selling vehicles in the U.S.
The Sorento seats five, is capable in many situations and has proved to be a value-based option. It has been one of the top-selling models in its segment for years.
Kia Sorento Origins
The Kia Sorento was one of the first vehicles that Kia Motors offered in the United States and Canada. As South Korea’s oldest car company, Kia was slow to come to the U.S., not incorporating here until 1992. Sales in North America began with the Sephia sedan. Soon after, in the mid-1990s, the Sportage SUV was introduced.
The design of the Kia Sorento has little in common with the Sportage, however, with the latter being a compact SUV based on the Mazda Bongo and utilizing Mazda and Ford parts in a partnership between the three companies at the time. Since then, the Sportage has become a Kia-only design, but the Sorento was never based on it. Rather, the new-generation Sportage was based on the Sorento instead.
The Kia Sorento was one of the first vehicles that Kia wholly designed in-house.
About the Kia Sorento
The Kia Sorento is a midsize SUV crossover with one of the lowest manufacturer’s suggested retail prices in the segment. It sells well in North America and appeals to families as a people mover with off-road capability. It has been sold as a vehicle that can both carry the kids around town for errands and take weekend camping trips without missing a beat.
The first-generation Kia Sorento was built primarily in Hwasung, South Korea, while the new generation Kia is built in South Korea (for Asian sales), Kazakhstan (for European sales), and Georgia, U.S. (for North American sales). The vehicle has won a five-star safety rating in the U.S., a five-star rating from the Euro NCAP test, and was named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Kia Sorento Features
The Sorento seats five, has ample cargo space, and provides good power for the vehicle’s size. It has achieved five-star safety ratings since the 2007 model year and has become popular as a uniquely styled vehicle since its redesign in 2009. The Kia Sorento has always been one of the more fuel efficient and lower-cost options in the segment.
The first-generation Sorento is a rear-wheel drive vehicle with four-wheel drive as a driver-selectable option. In North America, it has been available with a small four-cylinder engine (until 2005) and two different V-6 options, depending on the year. In its second-generation, the Kia Sorento became a front-wheel drive vehicle with four-wheel drive as an option (drive-selectable). It had two engine options in the U.S., a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V-6.
The Kia Sorento has won many awards in recent years, including earning the Excellent ranking from Consumer Reports, SUV of the Year by New Zealand’s Autocar Magazine, and more.
Kia Sorento Evolution
The first generation of the Sorento was a truck-based (body-on-frame) sport utility with an automatic four-wheel drive system utilizing low range gearing. This generation was offered with either a four-speed automatic transmission or a five-speed manual. In 2005, a five-speed automatic was introduced, replacing the four-speed, and in 2007 the Kia Sorento was given a facelift and drivetrain improvements. This included a 3.8-liter Lambda engine that replaced the smaller 3.5-liter, nearly doubling the Sorento’s towing capability. In that year, the five-speed manual transmission was dropped as an option, leaving only the five-speed Sportmatic automated transmission. In 2009 the Sorento received another facelift but no significant improvements over the 2007 changes.
The second-generation Kia Sorento was introduced the next year, this time redesigned as a crossover (car-based frame). This was also the first Kia model to be manufactured in the United States at the company’s new state-of-the-art, billion-dollar complex in West Point, Georgia. 2009 saw the introduction of Kia’s new branding element, the Tiger Nose grille, designed by Peter Shreyer, formerly of Volkswagen.
There is a time gap between the 2009 introduction of the new Sorento in South Korea and its 2011 introduction in the United States due to the new factory requiring time to be completed. Significant changes for the new Kia Sorento included unibody construction, an independent suspension, a transverse-mounted engine making the Sorento primarily front-wheel drive, and the reintroduction of a four-cylinder engine.
For 2014, a new model Kia Sorento has been introduced with several changes, including a facelift and new drivetrain options.