2012 Kia Sorento: The value leader

It may not be the most luxurious SUV on the block, but Kia's Sorento offers solid features and room for seven passengers for about 30 grand.

Josh Miller/CNET

The new Sorento doesn't stand out for any cutting-edge technology or unique features, unless you count the new direct-injection engine. Rather, it comes along with very usable cabin electronics at a reasonable price.

What most impressed me about it was the cohesive and attractive cabin tech interface, an area where other automakers struggle. The screens for controlling navigation, the stereo, and the phone feature a consistent look, and Kia obviously has a graphic designer or two on staff, not something all automakers can claim.

The navigation system shows traffic data on easy-to-read maps, the stereo includes all the latest audio sources, and the phone system lets you dial by name using voice command. Sure, it would be nice to have advanced features, such as app integration or Google search, built into the navigation system, but all the in-dash tech works well, doing its job without fuss.

The standard Sorento is only a five-seater, but one big option package, the same one that brings in navigation, also includes a third-row seat. The Sorento is not huge, so you will have to make a choice between two extra passengers or cargo, but maybe that is an excuse to make the in-laws take their own car.

Kia offers a 2-liter direct-injection engine as an option in this Sorento, which gives better fuel economy and more power than the base four-cylinder engine. It pulls the Sorento along quite handily, although the available V-6 would make more sense for towing boats or trailers.

Check out CNET's review of the 2012 Kia Sorento.

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