Top 4th of July Sales Best 4K Projectors 7 Early Prime Day Deals Wi-Fi Range Extenders My Favorite Summer Gadgets Cheap Car Insurance Target's 4th of July Sale Best Running Earbuds, Headphones

2011 Kia Sorento EX: The Santa Fe's sexier sister

As tested, our 2.4-liter 2011 Kia Sorento EX is a pretty good value, with lots of space, acceptable performance, and a surprisingly good array of cabin technology; the 3.5-liter V-6 model has more power and a few more cabin niceties.

Kia Sorento
The Kia Sorento gets a major upgrade (inside and out) for the 2011 model year. Josh P. Miller/CNET

Looking only at the spec sheets, it's easy to dismiss the 2011 Kia Sorento EX as a simple reskin of the 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS that we tested not too long ago, and you wouldn't be too far from the truth. Both vehicles feature the same 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine outputting the same 175 horsepower; and both feature Kia/Hyundai's latest cabin tech package based around an 8GB solid-state navigation system.

However, in practice the vehicles are quite different. They're both big girls, but the angular Sorento is something of a sexier, younger sister to the Santa Fe's more dour and homely visage. The Kia's firmer suspension tune means that she's also the more agile sister and--identical horsepower numbers be damned--we'd swear she also has a bit more pep in her step. Available fold flat third-row seating also means that the Sorento is also the more flexible of the two. Flexibility is always good.

Perhaps we've gotten a bit carried away with the "hot sister" metaphor, but our point is that we like the Sorento so much more than we did the Santa Fe (at least in front-wheel-drive configuration). But how does the young CUV stack up against the competition from Toyota and Honda? Check out the full review to find out.