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2005 Kia Sorento LX

 The Good: Modern and sleek exterior design.  Roomy interior with comfortable entry height and good luggage space.  Easy to drive. 

The Bad:  Seats very soft.  Cheap look of stereo and center dash. 


            Kia continues on it's path of infiltrating the American market with cars that are affordable yet stylish at the same time.  Kia has been reporting strong sales due to their great reliability, which has propelled Korean automakers to the top of the most trouble free car's list in 2004.  The Sorento combines smooth luxury car looks with a low budget price in a go anywhere SUV. 

The Sorento is available in LX and EX versions, each with four wheel drive or rear wheel drive.  Our LX two wheel drive tester features the basics with air conditions, a CD player, cruise control, and power windows, mirrors and locks.  All Sorento models come with a powerful 3.5 liter DOHC V6 engine.  The engine produces 192 horsepower and 217 lb.-ft. of torque coupled to a five speed automatic transmission.  The Sorento features a truck like body-on-frame construction, where most of its competitors are very much car like with little off road capabilities. 

The exterior of the Sorento is its selling point.  The body is sleek and stylish while being large and bold as well.  Many body cues reminded us of a Mercedes M-class and the Lexus RX.  Headlights and fog lights are fitted well and the body wraps around nicely.  Our model's side steps gave it a nice rugged look.  Tires are also extra large for an off road feeling.  On the road it is very difficult to tell that this is Kia, unless you come close enough to look at the nameplate. We have mistaken the Sorento for a M-class a few times already, especially from the rear.

            The interior of the Sorento is basic and simple in the LX trim.  Features include air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and locks, and heated outside mirrors.  An eight speaker sound system works well.  Rear seats are split folding with a center armrest.  A full array of courtesy map and cargo lighting is also standard.  A small overhead console holds sunglasses as well as an additional storage try.  In back the lift gate features a flip up glass for long items.  Rear privacy glass and a roof rack are standard.  Even a trailer hitch wiring sub-harness connector is there for your needs.  Rear seat legroom is adequate though not roomy.  Cargo capacity is rated at 31 cubic feet but the area is wide for large items.

We would highly prefer leather seats to the fuzzy and static prone material in our tester.  The seats are also very soft and extra comfortable, great for short drives but not great for a sporty feel.  The materials used on the dash are of higher quality than most American offerings.  The central dash is very simple and looks dated with its black dials and high mounted stereo.  We would want a highly improved center dash, as sleek as the exterior.  We did not like the use of flat black plastic nor the silver plastic trim around the dash.  The steering wheel also lacks stereo controls, something that is basic and should be offered in any car today.  Overall the interior feels as cheap as the price of the Sorento and would opt for the EX model if we were to buy this model. 

            Driving the Sorento around town is relaxing and comfortable.  The nice ride height is neither too low nor too high.  The car has adequate power to cruise at highway speeds without making a large amount of noise.  The suspension is firm with little bounce or sway and unless you live in an area of bumpy roads, you will find it to be quite comfortable.  In ice and snow we did get our rear wheel drive only model to slip and slide a bit.  A dial labeled 'Snow Mode' allows you to have the transmission start off in second gear rather than first for smother starts without wheel spin.  We would like to have standard traction control on this model for better handling on snow.  The ABS system allowed us to steer on slippery roads and come to a stop with little pedal vibration. 

            The base MSRP of the Sorento is $21,200.  A sport package adds $900 which includes a spoiler, stereo with 10 speakers, leather shifter, blacked out headlamps, metallic interior trim, a leather wrapped steering wheel and side step bars.  A tow hitch is optional for $340.  Additional discounts and rebates should make for a real world price around $19.500.  This is a very compelling price for the car you get. The Sorento would make a versatile daily driver yet still have the elegance for a night out on the town.

            Safety features include front and side dual airbags.  Four point seatbelts as well as front seat belt pretensioners with force limiters are standard.  Gas mileage is rated at 16 miles per gallon city and 22 on the highway.  Don't forget the Kia 10 year/ 100,000 mile warranty with 24 hour roadside assistance.  The Sorento has also earned five stars in the governments side impact crash tests. 

            From the good overall feeling we had driving the Kia Sorento around highways and city streets we would give this car a overall high mark.  There is little that offers the exterior looks this Sorento does in this price range.  The Hondas and Toyotas are all too numerous to stand out anymore and perhaps the Jeep Liberty offers substantial competition as a unique car in this price category.  This would be a even better buy if the interior looked as nice as the exterior and that is our main problem with the Sorento. 


Base Pricing 20,240 21,350
Destination 670 670
Emission Equipment, California/Northeast 150 150
F&R Anti-Lock 531 595
Engine Start, Remote Control 275 360
Side Step Bars 265 345
Trailer Hitch 262 340


  2005 Kia Sorento
LX Rwd 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
2005 Ford Escape
XLS Fwd 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl 4A)
2005 Honda CR-V
LX Fwd 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5A)
2005 Jeep Liberty
Sport Rwd 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 4A)
2005 Saturn VUE
Fwd 4dr SUV (2.2L 4cyl 4A)
MSRP $21,200 $19,405 $19,995 $20,985 $20,615
Invoice $20,100 $18,038 $18,473 $19,660 $19,226
Basic 5 yr. / 60000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 5 yr. / 60000 mi.
Drivetrain 10 yr. / 100000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 7 yr. / 70000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi.
Base Engine Type & Cylinders V6 inline 4 inline 4 V6 inline 4
Base Engine Displacement 3.5 liters 2.3 liters 2.4 liters 3.7 liters 2.2 liters
Valvetrain 24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
12 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
Horsepower 192 hp @ 5500 rpm 153 hp @ 5800 rpm 160 hp @ 6000 rpm 210 hp @ 5200 rpm 143 hp @ 5400 rpm
Torque 217 ft-lbs. @ 3000 rpm 152 ft-lbs. @ 4250 rpm 162 ft-lbs. @ 3600 rpm 235 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 152 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm
5 Speed Shiftable Automatic Standard Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available
Driven Wheels rear wheel drive front wheel drive front wheel drive rear wheel drive front wheel drive
Independent Suspension front four-wheel four-wheel front four-wheel
Stabilizer Bars front and rear front front and rear front and rear front and rear
Tires P245/70HR16
all season
all season
all season
all season
all season
Wheels alloy rims
16 x 7.0 in.
steel rims
15 x 6.5 in.
steel rims
16 in.
steel rims
16 x 7.0 in.
steel rims
16 x 6.5 in.
Sunroof Not Available Not Available Not Available power glass - Optional power glass - Optional
Driver Seat Power Adjustable Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available 6 - Optional
Anti - Lock Brakes 4-wheel ABS - Optional 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS - Optional 4-wheel ABS - Optional
Turning Circle 36.4 ft. 35.4 ft. 34.1 ft. 35.9 ft. 39.4 ft.
Max. Cargo Capacity 66 cu. ft. 66 cu. ft. 72 cu. ft. 69 cu. ft. 64 cu. ft.
Max. Towing Capacity 3500 lbs. 1500 lbs. 1500 lbs. 5000 lbs. 1500 lbs.
City 16 mpg 22 mpg. 23 mpg. 17 mpg. 22 mpg.
Highway 22 mpg 25 mpg. 29 mpg. 22 mpg. 27 mpg.
Fuel Tank Capacity 21.1 gal. 16.5 gal. 15.3 gal. 20.5 gal. 16.3 gal.
Length 179.8 in. 174.9 in. 181 in. 174.4 in. 181.3 in.
Width 73.3 in. 70.1 in. 70.2 in. 71.6 in. 71.5 in.
Height 68.1 in. 69.7 in. 66.2 in. 71.9 in. 66.5 in.
Weight 4191 lbs. 3261 lbs. 3318 lbs. 3898 lbs. 3111 lbs.
Wheel Base 106.7 in. 103.1 in. 103.3 in. 104.3 in. 106.6 in.
Ground Clearance 8.2 in. 8 in. 8.1 in. 8 in. 8 in.
Front Headroom 39.7 in. 40.4 in. 40.9 in. 40.7 in. 40.4 in.
Rear Headroom 39.5 in. 39.2 in. 39.1 in. 42.1 in. 40.3 in.
Front Shoulder Room 58.9 in. 56.3 in. 56.9 in. 56.5 in. 55.4 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 58.4 in. 55.9 in. 56.5 in. 56.5 in. 55.3 in.
Front Hip Room 55.3 in. 53.4 in. 54.5 in. 57 in. 51.6 in.
Rear Hip Room 58 in. 49.1 in. 53.5 in. 47.4 in. 52.7 in.
Front Leg Room 42.6 in. 41.6 in. 41.3 in. 40.8 in. 41.2 in.
Rear Leg Room 36.1 in. 36.3 in. 39.4 in. 37.2 in. 36.8 in.
Maximum Luggage Capacity 31.4 cu.ft. 29.3 cu.ft. 33.5 cu.ft. 29 cu.ft. 30.8 cu.ft.


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