2012 Kia Sorento

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$6,765–$17,089 Inventory Prices
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Key Specs

of the 2012 Kia Sorento. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Starting price
  • Well-equipped base model
  • Fold-flat second and third rows
  • Upscale options
  • Tight turning circle

The Bad

  • Cramped second and third rows
  • Lower towing capacity than previous Sorento

Notable Features of the 2012 Kia Sorento

  • Four-cylinder or V-6
  • Car-based construction
  • FWD or AWD
  • Available panoramic moonroof
  • Six-speed automatic

2012 Kia Sorento Road Test

Kristin Varela

Editor's note: Estimated mileage ratings have been lowered to reflect a November 2012 EPA audit of this car's stated mileage.

While I loved my first brief stint in a loaded seven-seat 2012 Kia Sorento at Cars.com's $37,000 SUV Shootout, my most recent two-week test drive of a lesser model at home left me feeling a bit … um … meh.

What gives? The Shootout contestant was a value-packed, feature-filled Kia Sorento SX with front-wheel drive that had a surprisingly spunky V-6 engine. The second time around I was driving the Sorento EX, featuring a smaller four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive. I found myself chanting aloud "I think I can, I think I can," willing the Sorento along as it gently chugged its way up the small hill to my daughters' school.

My test model was essentially in the middle of 11 different trim level/drivetrain combinations. See the base-level four-cylinder and V-6 models compared here.

EXTERIOR
The Kia Sorento's styling is neither here nor there for me, not really standing out from the rest of the nameless, faceless medium-sized SUVs and crossovers. I tend to have more extreme tastes, preferring design cues that are unique within their class.

The Sorento isn't unique enough to be offensive to anyone, and maybe that's the goal. It might even catch a few more conservative eyes here and there when clad with the smiling Kia grille and optional rear spoiler.

The Sorento's 7.5-inch ground clearance is ...

Editor's note: Estimated mileage ratings have been lowered to reflect a November 2012 EPA audit of this car's stated mileage.

While I loved my first brief stint in a loaded seven-seat 2012 Kia Sorento at Cars.com's $37,000 SUV Shootout, my most recent two-week test drive of a lesser model at home left me feeling a bit … um … meh.

What gives? The Shootout contestant was a value-packed, feature-filled Kia Sorento SX with front-wheel drive that had a surprisingly spunky V-6 engine. The second time around I was driving the Sorento EX, featuring a smaller four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive. I found myself chanting aloud "I think I can, I think I can," willing the Sorento along as it gently chugged its way up the small hill to my daughters' school.

My test model was essentially in the middle of 11 different trim level/drivetrain combinations. See the base-level four-cylinder and V-6 models compared here.

EXTERIOR
The Kia Sorento's styling is neither here nor there for me, not really standing out from the rest of the nameless, faceless medium-sized SUVs and crossovers. I tend to have more extreme tastes, preferring design cues that are unique within their class.

The Sorento isn't unique enough to be offensive to anyone, and maybe that's the goal. It might even catch a few more conservative eyes here and there when clad with the smiling Kia grille and optional rear spoiler.

The Sorento's 7.5-inch ground clearance is high enough that I wished my test car had the optional side steps to assist my younger two daughters (ages 7 and 9). We occasionally pick up my parents as well for a family dinner outing, and I know their creaking joints and my dad's artificial hip would also appreciate a little assistance.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FEATURES
The Sorento is packed full of features without adding exorbitant costs to families on a budget. Five seats are standard. The third-row bench that my test car came equipped with is part of an optional $3,800 Premium Package 1, which also includes heated, power-adjustable front seats with driver's seat memory. Deep charcoal faux-wood trim adds a classy look to this budget crossover, making it feel more upscale than you'd think.

Up front, the driver benefits from steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and Bluetooth cellphone connectivity and audio streaming that was quite easy to pair with my iPhone. This great family-friendly feature keeps my kids busy on long trips by piping their favorite music wirelessly from my smartphone through the car's speakers.

A clever extra storage compartment tucked behind the audio controls was perfect for storing some tissues for when I got weepy from my girls' relentless playing of Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend." Please choose something else. Anything!

The second-row bench doesn't slide back and forth, a feature I've come to expect in every crossover these days, especially ones with a third row. Despite the lack of adjustability, there was plenty of room in the second row for my girls and their backpacks. They had access to storage nets on the back of the front seats, as well as storage bins with bottle holders in the two rear doors. An armrest folds down when the center seating position is not in use and gives the kids two cupholders. Second-row passengers benefit from two air vents on the pillars just in front of them.

The third row is a little tight but sufficient enough for an extra kid or two on the weekend. If we had three or more kids at home full time, I'd probably opt for a larger third row with easier access and a curtain side airbag (see the Safety section below). Third-row passengers will have to suffer without their own air vents, and only the right side of the vehicle offers a storage bin and a cupholder. The left-side passenger doesn't get to drink. Sorry.

At 9.1 cubic feet, the cargo space behind the third row is incredibly tight, fitting not much more than a couple of grocery bags. The third-row seats split 50/50, however, and fold flat with a quick tug on a pull-tab, which simultaneously flips the head restraint down and out of the way making for 37 cubic feet of space behind the second row. The cargo space expands to a maximum of 72.5 cubic feet of space after folding the second row seats as well.

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): None (in the four-cylinder)

BEHIND THE WHEEL
Who wouldn't want all of the above features at such a great price? Someone with someplace to go quickly, that's who. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder Sorento EX is just plain sluggish and annoyingly slow to get up to speed on the highway. When you punch the accelerator in an attempt to get more reaction, all you get is a rumbly, whiny protest. I get enough backtalk from my kids; I certainly don't need it from my car, too.

For me and my family, the four-cylinder Kia Sorento SUV — with fuel economy rated at 20/26 mpg city/highway with all-wheel drive — wouldn't even make it onto our radar screen.

It could actually have been worse: The EX's standard engine is a more powerful four-cylinder than the lower-level LX trim's engine. Called the GDI version (for gasoline direct injection), the EX's engine makes 191 horsepower versus the 2.4-liter's 175 hp. However, the less-powerful engine comes in the LX with front-wheel drive only; AWD LX versions upgrade to GDI.

The V-6, however, is a completely different story. My previous drive in the V-6 left me feeling sporty and spunky. It had plenty of get up and go with a near carlike feel to it. Of all the SUVs and crossovers we drove in our Shootout, the V-6-equipped Sorento was one of my two favorites in terms of drivability. It does sacrifice 2 mpg on the highway versus the four-cylinder with AWD and 3 to 4 mpg with two-wheel drive.

SAFETY
With the top score of Good in front, side and rear crash tests, plus the roof-strength test, the Sorento is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick. In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's crash tests, the Sorento earned an overall score of four stars out of five.

As is required of all 2012 models, the Kia Sorento has standard antilock brakes and an electronic stability system with traction control. Dual front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags and curtain side airbags for the first and second rows are all standard. The third-row passengers do not have airbag protection, a concern for me as a parent. Do I have to pick my least favorite kid each day to ride in the way-back without airbag protection? Sadly, this one specific drawback is enough to keep the Sorento off my family's potential next car list. Most three-row crossovers have curtains that flank all three rows.

For families installing child-safety seats, there's sufficient room in the second row for installing either forward- or rear-facing child seats, but the lower Latch anchors in the second row are buried within the seat bight, where the back and bottom cushions meet, making installation difficult for some types of car seats. Despite having seating for up to seven, the Sorento has only the two sets of Latch anchors in the second row's outboard seating positions. The third row doesn't have lower or top tether anchors.

The seat belt buckles in both the second and third rows are on flexible nylon bases, a system that can make it difficult for younger children in booster seats to buckle up on their own. However, the second-row seats recline quite a bit, which aids in the comfort of booster-seat-aged kids like mine who still nap in the car, while also often improving the fit and comfort of forward-facing child-safety seats.

For the complete Car Seat Check of the 2012 Kia Sorento, click here.

See all the standard safety features listed here.

Send Kristin an email  

 


2012 Sorento Video

Watch MotorWeek on PBS. Check MotorWeek.org for times and channels.

Latest 2012 Sorento Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(4.3)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.5)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.5)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Best warranty and exceptional car...

by Kkulesz from Homestead Florida on June 20, 2018

Very comfortable size and space ..... easy handling and I just love it . The warranty that kia offers is far the best. Not a gas guzzler and the leather makes it easy to clean especially when you have ... Read full review

(1.0)

Cheap and dangerous

by Brady from Ar on May 23, 2018

Mine needs an engine and new suspension. thanks kia.130000 miles,really .i hope you don't expect me to pay for your mistakes. I will keep you posted. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Kia Sorento currently has 2 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2012 Kia Sorento Base

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    120 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 60,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Kia

Program Benefits

164-point inspection, Carfax vehicle history report, 10-year/unlimited mileage 24-hour roadside assistance including trip-interruption services and lockout assistance

  • Limited Warranty

    10 years / 100,000 miles

    10-year/100,000 mile powertrain limited warranty; towing/rental/travel breakdown benefits; eligible for additional comprehensive mechanical failure. Comprehensive: 12 months/12,000 miles from date of purchase.
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 60,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 164 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Sorento received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker