2012 Kia Sorento EX review: 2012 Kia Sorento EX

Kia includes a hill descent program at every Sorento trim level, whether all-wheel-drive or front-wheel-drive. Josh Miller/CNET

With a base price in the mid-20s, the Sorento upholds Kia's value proposition very well. However, the overall price comes up to just over $30K with one essential option package. The Premium Plus package combines disparate features such as the third-row seat, an autodimming rearview mirror, and a navigation system. Annoyingly, the inclusion of navigation deletes Kia's new UVO feature, which gives advanced voice control over connected MP3 players. At some point in the future, Kia should have UVO integrated with its navigation system.

The navigation system is a worthwhile option, and ultimately more useful than UVO. It is not particularly advanced, merely offering 2D maps. However, with the maps stored in flash memory, the refresh rate was good, and the system integrated traffic data, using this information to avoid traffic jams and warn of incidents on the road ahead.

Under route guidance, it provided good instructions for upcoming turns. Entering an address manually proved very easy, and I was particularly impressed with the system's points-of-interest database. For example, it quickly found a state park from just a few characters entered. Advanced features such as connected search are missing from this system.

This integrated head unit also gives touch-screen access to the Bluetooth phone system and the stereo. The interface has a nice aesthetic, as if Kia actually hired a graphic designer to work on it, something not every automaker can boast. The phone interface makes it easy to look up recent calls or browse the contact list, which gets copied over from a paired phone.

Kia employs nicely designed, informative graphics in its onscreen interface. Josh Miller/CNET

The stereo interface is similarly easy to use, with hard buttons along the bezel for choosing radio or different local sources. The system includes Bluetooth audio streaming, and a combined USB port/auxiliary input cable supports iPod integration. Although the system shows full music library information for an attached iPod, such as album and artist categories, it only shows the file and folder structure for USB drives plugged into the system.

The Premium Plus package also brings in a 10-speaker Infinity audio system, an improvement over the base six-speaker system. The sound from this system was decent, but not particularly moving. It broadcast well into the car, giving the cabin good coverage, but sounded hollow. A stronger amp might have given the audio a richer undertone.

In sum
Looking at the 2012 Kia Sorento's technology, it comes off as a good, but not spectacular, vehicle. The navigation, stereo, and phone systems are all very useful, but do not push any advanced features. The best part of the head unit is the cohesive and nicely designed interface, something with which many automakers struggle. Direct injection is a nice piece of advanced technology for the engine, and it shows in the efficiency gains over the Sorento's port-injected engine options. Value is the Sorento's best proposition, as it comes in at a low price for a substantial amount of vehicle.

Tech specs
Model 2012 Kia Sorento
Trim EX
Power train Direct-injection 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic transmission
EPA fuel economy 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway
Observed fuel economy 19.5 mpg
Navigation Optional flash memory-based with traffic
Bluetooth phone support Standard
Disc player MP3-compatible single-CD
MP3 player support iPod integration
Other digital audio USB drive, Bluetooth audio streaming, auxiliary input, satellite radio, HD Radio
Audio system Infinity 10-speaker audio system
Driver aids Rearview camera
Base price $26,950
Price as tested $30,950

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

2012 Kia Sorento EX

Part Number: CNET101388022

MSRP: $25,950.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Trim levels 4dr
  • Body style SUV
  • Available Engine Gas