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2011 Kia Sorento EX FWD (photos)

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; but the 3.5-liter V-6 model has more power and a few more cabin niceties.

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Antuan Goodwin
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1 of 17 Josh P. Miller/CNET

Tiger Nose

Kia's corporate grill, known as the "Tiger Nose," translates well onto the Sorento's large proportions. Angular headlamps and large lower grill openings with fog lights give the crossover an aggressive look.
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2 of 17 Josh P. Miller/CNET

Sporty appeal

Black body cladding along the lower edge and around the wheel wells reduces the visual mass of the Sorento and increases its sleek and sporty appeal. However, the Limited package's chrome wheels are a design choice that we could live without.
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3 of 17 Josh P. Miller/CNET

2.4-liter inline four

Our Sorento may look like a high performer, but beneath its hood is a smallish 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine. Power output is a reasonable 175 horsepower, but if you anticipate ever being in a rush to get somewhere, you're going to want to spec the larger 276-horsepower V-6 engine.
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4 of 17 Josh P. Miller/CNET

Crossing over

The previous generation Sorento was a body on frame, truck-based SUV. However, the 2011 model is now a unibody crossover that has more in common architecturally with a large car.
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5 of 17 Josh P. Miller/CNET

Fully independent suspension

Its rear-wheel driven, live axle chassis has also been replaced with a front-wheel-drive system with fully independent suspension at all four corners.
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6 of 17 Josh P. Miller/CNET

Available all-wheel drive

The Sorento is available with full-time all-wheel drive (featuring a lockable center differential), but choosing this configuration puts a dent in the CUV's fuel economy numbers.
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7 of 17 Josh P. Miller/CNET

Third row seating

Although not shown here, the Sorento is available with third-row seating (standard on V-6 models, optional with the I-4) that boosts its maximum passenger load from five to seven.
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8 of 17 Josh P. Miller/CNET

Interior

The Sorento's interior varies wildly from fairly classy to downright tacky depending on the color combination chosen. Here, we have a nice two-tone black and tan combo that's been upgraded with the Premium package's heated leather seating surfaces.
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9 of 17 Josh P. Miller/CNET

Steering wheel controls

The Sorento's steering wheel features a plethora of buttons for cruise control, audio functions, hands-free calling, and voice commands.
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10 of 17 Josh P. Miller/CNET

Six-speed automatic

All Sorentos are equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission. Sliding the selector to the left places the transmission in Shiftronic mode for manual gear selection.
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11 of 17 Josh P. Miller/CNET

Instrumentation

The instrument cluster is pretty Spartan by CNET standards, but it gets the job done with a small monochromatic trip computer and clear gauges. When you're driving in a thrifty manner, a small, green ECO light illuminates.
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12 of 17 Josh P. Miller/CNET

Navigation

If this navigation rig looks familiar, it's because we've seen it before in various Hyundai vehicles. The 8GB, solid-state memory-based system is a snappy performer and a terrific value.
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13 of 17 Josh P. Miller/CNET

Sirius traffic

Real-time traffic updates are provided by the standard Sirius Satellite Radio uplink.
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14 of 17 Josh P. Miller/CNET

Satellite radio

The satellite connection also beams music and talk radio stations into the Sorento's dashboard and out of its speakers.
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15 of 17 Josh P. Miller/CNET

Bluetooth

Bluetooth hands-free calling is standard on the Sorento with automatic phone book import and voice-activated dialing.
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16 of 17 Josh P. Miller/CNET

A2DP audio streaming

The system also supports A2DP/AVRCP audio streaming from music phones, which is rather impressive for a vehicle in this price range.
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17 of 17 Josh P. Miller/CNET

Rear view camera

When equipped with navigation, the Sorento also benefits from a rearview camera with proximity sensors and distance indicators, but no moving trajectory guides.

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