2012 Kia Sorento

Posted: April 5, 2012 in Vehicle Reviews
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The Kia Sorento caught my eye last year when I was looking for more affordable 3rd row SUVs.  Initially I had put it far below the Toyota 4Runner I had in my top spot for my “next vehicle” because the rear window glass doesn’t open and the older models had poorer crash test results, but after my dealer visit today it’s giving the 4Runner a run for the top spot!

Top features that caught my eye: rear AC/heat vents on the columns behind the front row in all trim levels, additional vents on the columns behind the second row for models that include a third row of seating, 4WD that can be turned off when not in use, gas mileage *with* 4WD that is either 21/28 or 20/25 depending on the engine selected, and an optional panoramic sunroof that covers almost the entire roof!


Now for the details you’re all looking for!

Width between wheel wells (narrowest part of the vehicle): 44.5″

Width at widest point: 53.25″, just past wheel wells

Tallest point: 34″ measured in the center of the cargo area, but same from roughly the hatch forward!

Cargo depth with all rows up: negligible, less than 12″

Cargo depth with third row down: 41″ on the floor, 35.25″ at the top of the seat backs. The second row does recline so I measured the depth with them set at the second reclining position, which is comfortable for passengers, but not significantly reclined.

**note: the hatch of the Sorento curves outward, so there is a slight decrease in depth of the cargo area from the center of the hatch toward the sides. This is especially important to consider if your crates measure close to the length of the cargo area.**

Cargo depth with the second and third row down: 69″ – the second row does NOT fold flat, so crates would need to have something to rest on other than the seat backs to remain level.

Hatch measurements: 32-48″ wide, with the narrowest point at the top, 30.75″ tall

MPG city: 4 cylinder, fuel injected engine, 2WD: 21 mpg; 4 cylinder, gasoline direct injection engine, 2WD: 22 mpg; 4 cylinder, gasoline direct injection engine, 4WD: 21 mpg; V6 engine, 2WD: 20 mpg; V6 engine, 4WD: 19 mpg.

MPG highway: 4 cylinder, fuel injected engine, 2WD: 29 mpg; 4 cylinder, gasoline direct injection engine, 2WD: 32 mpg; 4 cylinder, gasoline direct injection engine, 4WD: 28 mpg; V6 engine, 2WD: 26 mpg; V6 engine, 4WD: 25 mpg.


In addition to the flexible cargo area, the Sorento also includes a number of features that the serious dog nut will find helpful, though some aren’t available in the base model.

  • Spare tire accessible even when the cargo area is full – the spare is located below the vehicle and is easily accessed by using a “port” in the rear cargo section that lowers the tire without crawling under the vehicle. All the necessary tools are also located in the storage section at the rear of the cargo area (behind where the third row of seats would sit), so removal of crates may not be necessary to reach them.
  • Due to the third row seating, the majority of crating space, even with the second row of seating fully upright, is located in the passenger compartment vs. a crumple zone; this is super important if you’re ever rear ended with dogs riding in the back of your vehicle.
  • All 4WD models allow you to turn off the 4WD function to save on gas mileage when road conditions do not necessitate its use.
  • Optional lights in the rear cargo area
  • Optional power outlets behind the front console (facing the second row of seating) and in the rear cargo area
  • Optional panoramic sunroof above the front row  and second row of seating; the section above the front row of seating opens completely, the section above the second row is fixed.


There were several disadvantages, some quite major, that anyone looking at the Sorento should consider.  The primary issue I saw was the lack of a fold flat second row of seating – this means that additional supports are necessitated to ensure comfortable crate positioning vs. allowing a quick “pop the crates in and go” set up. In addition, the rear window does NOT open independently, so locking the hatch cuts off all air flow from that direction.  Similarly, there are no regular windows flanking the third row seating area, further limiting airflow in the rear cargo compartment when the vehicle is stopped.  Finally, as with many vehicles, some of the nice comfort features that many dog people find useful require increasing the trim level or adding additional packages to the vehicle, increasing the purchase cost.

Overall, the Sorento appears to be a good mid-size SUV option, especially for those who would like to carry both crated dogs and have room for more than one human passenger and I can’t help but notice that the gas mileage will leave more money for trial entries or training classes than many similarly sized vehicles!


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