• Dec 3, 2009
2011 Kia Sorento- Click above for high-res image gallery

Perhaps the most important fact about the all new Kia Sorento isn't that it's a "right-sized" compact CUV. If Kia's boundless enthusiasm is any indication, the most important fact is that the 2011 Sorento is the first Kia designed and built in entirely in the USA. In fact, Kia claims that their all-new West Point, Georgia manufacturing plant will not only create 2,500 jobs (eventually – 1,200 for the moment), they say it is the most advanced Kia manufacturing facility in the world.

Then there's the vehicle they just started building in Georgia sixteen days ago, the 2011 Sorento. Kia's calling it "right-sized," and pointing out that Americans are leaving their biggie SUVs in droves and moving to CUVs, specifically compact CUVs. But not that compact – the Sorento is designed to sit five adults comfortably or seven full-size persons "occasionally." That's our kind of euphemism! The Sorento, however, is not just a schlepper. It's got a MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link suspension setup for the rear.

Coupled to a 276 horsepower V6 and an all-new built in-house six-speed automatic, the Sorento is able to get up and boogie a bit. Or at least as much as a top heavy CUV can boogie. Check out our First Drive of the Kia Sorento (a pre-production model from Korea) for more details. Long story short, a base Sorento will start at under $20,000 – about $1,500 less than the outgoing body-on-frame model.

Hyundai's making a big media push, taking out a Sorento ad in Times Square that will be visible when the ball drops on New Year's Eve. They're also put together a short commercial some of you may have seen in movie theaters over the weekend. This spot, featuring a young all-American boy on a bicycle, will be airing until January. Kia is also co-sponsoring the Chick-fil-A and the Outback college bowl games. As Kia mentioned repeatedly during the presentation, they feel the brand's got some momentum going. If the Sorento drives and works anywhere close to where Kia says it will, they might be right.




Live photos copyright ©2009 Jonny Lieberman / Weblogs, Inc.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 31 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Another all-around winner for Kia! Blows the Lexus RX and Honda Pilot straight out of the water...

      My only concern is that I doubt this new Sorento comes in a manual transmission option, and the previous-gen Sorento was one of the last mid-size SUVs to offer a stick.

      I hope with the Soul, Sorento, Cadenza, Forte, and Optima, people will finally start to rethink their negativity towards the Kia brand.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You chose all the worst-selling Lexuses XD

        Guess what, the Hyundai Genesis is one third the price of the Lexus LS600hL AND it gets better gas mileage.

        Obviously I'm not saying (and never said) that Kias are better than Lexuses, and it doesn't even make sense for you to include the ISF and LFA as parts of my argument; they are specialty cars and can only really be seen as wannabe M3s and Gallardos.

        What I was saying is that the new Kia Sorento is as good, if not better, than the current Lexus RX and Honda Pilot in terms of design, quality, and luxury; and it undercuts both by an amount enough to make any practical buyer seriously reconsider their purchase of the Lexus or Honda.
        JDM Life
        • 5 Years Ago
        Askroon....


        You fail dude.... You keep thinking Kia is better then Lexus LOL

        Do they have cars better then the LX? LS600hL? IS-F? LF-A

        Oh im sorrryyy...Kia doesnt have the means to build such great cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Find comfort in not having to say, "I drive a Kia"? Self-conscious, perhaps insecure, of financial and social status?

        Unfortunately, it's a valid argument though for many. Sigh~
        • 5 Years Ago
        @askroon: you're a complete moron. yes, i'll result to name calling, because calling a spade a spade is necessary sometimes. Lexus INVENTED the modern Luxury Crossover market. Toyota invented the CUV (see: RAV4). You dolts always amaze me.

        To say they copied someone else is just idiotic. Toyota is the real innovator, the rest are poseurs.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Before it can even come close to the RX......try not looking looking like a RX -__-"

        Yeah, like cuz the goofy baleen whale RX is what other automakers wish to emulate.
        • 5 Years Ago
        So, you still haven't explained why it makes more sense to buy an RX over this Sorento.

        To me it seems like you get the same level of luxury, with a little bit more rugged styling (and more character) for half the price with the new Sorento.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Only snobs are ashamed when they say "I drive a Kia." So that's not really a valid point.

        I admit that the Lexus dealer network is better, so if having a good quality dealer network is your primary goal in buying a car, go ahead and get a Lexus.

        And of course when you buy a Lexus you pay double, or more than double, the price for a slightly higher quality interior. But overall design quality and reliability is similar between these two brands.
        JDM Life
        • 5 Years Ago
        I dont need to explain why the RX is better then this wanna be in every single way. If you wanna buy this Kia to prove a point go ahead....what are you gonna do drive around and be proud you brought this over a Lexus? Is that why your buying this? See where this car brings you down the line. I would buy my very luxurious and technology loaded RX and love it because I know what im puttin my money into and what I am getting from owning a RX. If money is the issue this would be your choice but i doubt ANYONE who is walking into a Lexus deal ship is going to walk out and head over to a Kia dealer...I will give you 100 bucks for every person that does that. The Lexus is better built and is NOT built the same as this. Period. Spec for spec this couldn't touch the RX. Let me no even mention the RX hybrid which i has read in review to be wonderful. This Kia is just goin to fall into the shadows just like the rest of their lineup. The New RX has a look all its own and looks great. This is just a copy cat which is not good at copying anything. Hell....it looks like the PREVIOUS model RX -__-


        If I was to list the technology and features the RX has over this...it would shame this kia. Compare this to the Honda....not a Lexus.


        Lexus vs Kia? Are you serious?
        JDM Life
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Blows the RX out the Water"


        Rightttttttttt.


        Before it can even come close to the RX......try not looking looking like a RX -__-
        • 5 Years Ago
        The first modern hybrid car being the limited-run Audi Duo.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Superb dealer and customer service. Not having to say "I drive a Kia". Superb quality. There are three reasons.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The picture you chose with the Lexus interior makes it look so cheap and plasticky.. I can say that without a doubt the Kia Sorento has just as good, and maybe even a BETTER quality interior design than the Lexus RX.

        And guess what? The first-gen RX looked almost identical to that era of Mercedes-Benz ML, which they almost certainly put forward as the primary competitor when designing the first-gen RX. Lexus is no better than Kia when it comes to creative design.

        Honestly, I can tell you that there ARE people walking out of Lexus showrooms and going to Hyundai and Kia because they just make more sense. That's why Hyundai-Kia has the largest % increase of buyers in the auto industry over the last few years. They are high-quality, stylish, affordable cars.
      • 5 Years Ago
      VT versus UT in the Chic-Fil-A Bowl?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I know it's no longer a black/white issue and jobs are jobs. But can we consider an "all-American made" car truly supporting America when the profits go to another country and the company most likely got a deal to not pay taxes to America?
        • 5 Years Ago
        When the "American" alternative not only doesn't pay taxes but actually receives billions in federal welfare, I think this is the least bad alternative.

        It's that or the utterly antiquated Escape which was just recently "upgraded" to drum brakes.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Dan - because the imports aren't receiving tax payer money at all. Oh no, hundreds of millions - billions of dollars in tax breaks to lure companies to sites in the (labor-unfriendly) south, competing against fellow American workers elsewhere.

        No, they don't get any help whatsoever.

        America - where we don't compete against other countries but rather ourselves as we race to the bottom of labor standards, pay and benefits.

        I've got lots of pride in my system.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't think the term "all American" should be thrown around. They
      mentioned designed and assembled. While that is a big step up from
      most of their previous vehicles which were almost 100% designed,
      assembled, and engineered entirely in S.Korea, they are ignoring that
      the engineering on this vehicle was done in S.Korea as well.

      I bet a great deal of their supply base is from Korea too. That fact
      can't be ignored.

      Better than before, but please don't call it "all American".
      • 5 Years Ago
      The RAV4 is the benchmark in "sporty, powerful" "occasional" V6 7-passenger CUVs, and it now has a worthy competitor. With a new model due in 2011/2 I doubt Toyota is worried. Plus this will get lost in the crowd with it's styling, while at least the RAV4 has standout looks (still), without being garish like the CRV.
        JDM Life
        • 5 Years Ago
        The 2011 Rav-4 is going to be very good.


        IDK about this Kia....I just feel like I seen it before....
        • 5 Years Ago
        The spare on the back door keeps the inside plenty roomy.

        I love how the fanboys do nothing but downrate. Do you feel better?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is the new trend now to make tail lights "appear" to have LEDs when in fact they don't? This reminds me of the tail lights on the refreshed Ford Fusion.
      • 5 Years Ago
      looks like the mdx before it got hit by the ugly stick. i like it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Does beg the question: What IS an American car? One in which the top small percentage goes to foreign corporate fat-cats, but pumps jobs and revenue into local American economies. Or one in which the top small percent goes to American corporate fat-cats, but pumps jobs and revenue into foreign local economies?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Radically better looking than its cousin the Hyundai Tucson.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I would hardly call this an 'all-American' vehicle just because designed in the US. They're selling this thing here in Oz as well and they're not being imported from the US. Now, the Corvette and the Viper are an all-American cars; built in the US and if you purchase them anywhere else they only come in left hand drive because they are shipped in.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Not an exciting segment. But this looks at as good as any other mainstream CUV, better than a lot of them (CRV, Terrain, Outback, I'm looking right at you) and like every other Hyundai/Kia the price is right.

      Kia doesn't have the dealer network for this to sell as well as it ought to. But this should do its small part towards expanding that market presence.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That's not a bad car, I understand that it's not as luxurious as other CUVs but for that price is a pretty good deal. Plus, the exterior seems to be pretty good.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Seriously, a push button start, xenons, leather but NO NAV on this show model?!

      Otherwise, it looks good, Kia is on a roll. Built it America by Americans registers as an American made product in my book. Unlike Fords that build in Mexico.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes Rick, Ford builds 3 models in Mexico (thank you Bill Clinton and NAFTA), umm... how many models do Hyundai/Kia make here? And where are the other ones built? Across the Pacific? Oh well that's interesting.
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