The 2008 Kia Sorento fit in like one of the family at our house. It was a casual, no-frills kind of ride that we didn't need to "front" for. It was obviously hard-working, with its 4x4 capabilities and high ground clearance. The Sorento had dependable qualities, too, with Kia's 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and five-year/60,000-mile 24-hour roadside assistance.

While there were enough similarities between my family and the Sorento to make us feel at home in this SUV, there were also numerous differences. For example, those in my crew tend to be somewhat slight in height and weight (aka wimpy); the Sorento is huge. The Sorento is tall and towering and difficult - no, impossible - for my kids to climb into on their own without getting filthy. I might as well add that it was also impossible for my kids to buckle in - a task that brought my 6-year-old to tears more than once during our test drive (pssst...wimpy - yup, all of us).

Like us, the Sorento was, in fact, slightly clumsy and awkward; this is somehow OK in humans but not so much in cars. Getting the Sorento up to speed was tough. It felt like I was trying to push a large block of lead uphill with my spaghetti-like arms. It's important to note that while the Sorento took a while to reach higher speeds, she was able to maintain them once they were tackled. Way to persevere, Sorento! Yeah, that's another thing we work on in our house.

OK, so there was some sluggishness and clunkiness with the Sorento. At times it was really cumbersome to drive. It didn't have an impressive turning radius, and its exterior mirrors were too small for the size of the car, so it was often difficult to assess our location in relation to our surroundings. Likewise, the rearview mirror should have offered up a much better view than it did. Oh, and the windshield seemed like it was at a lower angle than other cars I've been in. Both my hubby and I had a feeling that the windshield was ready to slice right into our foreheads. But every family member has quirks, right? You just learn to work around them.


In Diapers: There's plenty of room for rear-facing child-safety seats. In School: It's doable but not ideal because it's hard for kids to climb in and buckle up. Teens: There's space for gangly teen legs in the backseat.

This is where the Kia Sorento tugged at my familial heartstrings. It's just so darn cute! I spent some time analyzing why I thought it looked so adorable. Did it have big round eyes (headlights) like an infant? Nope. Did it have a soft furry belly, like our dog? Nope. I've got it! The Kia Sorento looks like a bunny! No, I'm serious here - stick with me for a second. We have a pet bunny, and we adore him for his cuddle-ability. I won't go into lengthy detail regarding the physical similarities, but there are several, from our bunny's face to his ears to the rounded rear end! The Sorento is bunny-licious from every angle.

I did appreciate the Sorento's privacy glass, as well as the available chrome door handles; both added a dash of sleek sophistication to the Sorento's cuteness. Also, the height of the car, while making it difficult to climb into and out of, was nice when pulling up to a curb to park. There was so much clearance I never had to hear that loud, grating "oops, I hit the curb again" sound.

The doors were heavy, but I haven't figured out if this was a good or bad thing. If they're too light, the car feels cheap, but if they're too heavy, we get bruised. I did run into problems with the rear cargo door. I'd slam it and the interior warning light would say it was still open, which would force me to go back into the frigid temps and blowing nastiness to shut it again. This happened a couple of times while testing the Sorento.

The Kia Sorento's interior was basic - very basic. At one point I thought the instrument panel gauges could double for fake gauges in a cardboard car. Beyond the instrument panel, though, I found the Sorento to be pretty well-appointed. The EX model I drove had the Leather Package, which included leather seats in addition to the standard leather-wrapped steering wheel. This was nice. I always prefer leather to fabric seats because it cleans well and seems more durable. However, and I'm just saying this in general, I think automakers should know that just because they throw leather in a car doesn't mean we mistake an affordable, humble car for a super-lux model. For the record, there's more to lux than leather.

The Sorento's center console was appropriately multifunctional, with a deep storage bin, two cupholders and a couple of random cubbies for my stuff; it was perfect. There was an overhead console with a digital readout and map lights, which were pretty convenient.

The power-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support was heated in the model I drove and added some, "Who said a Kia couldn't be comfy?" to my test drive.

The second row was less impressive because my kids just had such a hard time with it. First there was the getting-in problem, followed by the buckling-in problem. Then there was the problem of the large distance between the babies and their cupholders. It wasn't the most well-planned space for kids.

The cargo area was awesome, though. There's lots of space, cargo netting, a full-size spare tire, some more netting, a 12-volt plug, a liftgate with flip-up glass get where I'm going with this. There was a whole lot going on in the trunk.

Overall, I thought the interior of the Sorento was well-appointed for the price.


Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore

Kia covers all the basics on safety: There are frontal-impact airbags, a driver's knee airbag and side curtain airbags for the first and second row. The Sorento has stability and traction control, as well as active head restraints in the front row. But there's not much beyond that safety-wise, except the Sorento's 4x4 capabilities, which will help you get out of wintery, muddy or bouldery binds.

The Sorento also has a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and five-year/60,000-mile 24-hour roadside assistance. That never hurts.

Did I feel safe in the Sorento? Sure, for the most part. But I did wonder if those awkward, clunky-feeling driving moments would wear off with time or if they'd continue to pose driving challenges. Only time would tell.


Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some