2012 Kia Sorento: A Departure from the Expected

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This past Thanksgiving, I had the pleasure of taking the 2012 Kia Sorento EX for a one week test drive. I honestly have not driven or even looked at a new vehicle in 9 years (boy, I feel old!) – but since having Whistler, I almost daily think to myself that my 4 door sedan could use replacing. After having driven the Sorento for a week, I now *know* life would be easier as a “mom” with a vehicle like this.

IMG 4267There are so many great features about the Kia Sorento that I don’t even know where to start! Other than having head turning styling, I think that probably the biggest selling point for me is that it is manufactured in America (Georgia to be exact!). With the way our economy has been, the more we can support US job by buying US made products, the better!

And speaking of economy, the well known Kelly Blue Book recognized Kia as the brand with the Lowest Total Cost of Ownership for 2011. I like that. I like that a lot. I also really liked that while we normally have to gas-up at least once on our road trip to Palm Springs and back in Ben’s SUV – we did not have to stop at a gas station once in the Sorento.

IMG 4279I actually drove around town locally to run errands the day before we left, we drove out to the desert, used the car around town in Palm Springs, drove back home AND ran even more errands around town the day after we got back – all on the same tank of gas! Even after all of that, there was STILL 1/4 tank left when they came to take her away (sniff sniff). The official EPA mileage estimate is (cty/hwy) 22/32 mpg. This is actually BETTER than my 2003 compact sedan with manual transmission. I was impressed because this is a common “con” for owning an SUV aka “gas guzzlers”.

Aside from being economical, my second main concern for a family vehicle is obviously going to be safety. Well guess what, the 2012 Kia Sorento has that area well covered as well! It comes standard with child seat anchors, antilock disc brakes, stability control, turn signal mirrors, hill-start assist, hill descent control, front active head restraints, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags that cover only the first and second rows. According to Edmunds brake testing, both four- and six-cylinder Sorentos stopped from 60 mph in 120 feet, a very good result for this class.

IMG 4261In government safety testing, the Sorento earned four stars (out of a possible five) for overall protection, with a four-star rating being awarded for both frontal and side-impact protection. The Sorento also earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s top score of “Good” for frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests.

The “mom” in me loved the rear parking sensors and rear camera display. Not only did it save my neck (here I am feeling old again) and provide very helpful guides on how much room there was (no more sending someone out to give you the you-have-this-much-room-left-between-my-hands signals) but it virtually eliminates the blind spot that is directly behind your car and allows you to see if children or animals are back there.

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The techie geek in me loved the UVO system – a hands-free infotainment and communications system that offers advanced voice control, color touch screen, HD radio, Bluetooth, rearview camera, and GPS navigation. IMG 4358Powered by Microsoft, the UVO allows you to stay focused on the road. The UVO allows you to sync multiple phones via bluetooth and even provides a USB connection as well.

I often miss calls while I am driving because I am singing, I mean, listening to music and my phone is buried somewhere in the depths of my purse. Well, not in this puppy. I simply connect my iPhone when I get in and the Sorento does the rest. If you are listening to music, it will lower the sound and I am able to answer the call with the push of a button on the steering wheel.

If you get and send frequent text messages, then you’re going to love this – the UVO can read out loud and reply to SMS text messages!

*NOTE* I use a GPS Navigation app on my phone quite frequently and was slightly disappointed in the one that came equipped with the vehicle. It seemed very primitive compared to my phone app and I actually turned it off and used my phone instead when we needed directional guidance. I’m actually not too concerned with this minor issue because it should be something that can be improved upon with a simple software update.

“No longer simply just a good value, the 2012 Kia Sorento is now an excellent pick for a small or midsize crossover SUV,” writes Edmunds and I couldn’t agree more.

IMG 4262If it’s luxury you’re after, standard and optional 2012 features include: power-folding mirrors, memory/power passenger seat, ventilated driver’s seat, stain resistant seat fabric, 12V front and 12V rear power outlet(s), heated steering wheel, wood trim steering wheel, Hyper-finish 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition/entry, rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control (with rear air-conditioning on V6 models), a power driver seat (with power lumber support that is just divine!), a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

I’ll admit that the push-button start took a little getting used to, but once I got over the urge to always have the key in my hand or insert it into the car, it was really REALLY nice to just throw it in my purse and forget about it. No more standing outside your car digging through your purse to find the keys. IMG 4364Just walk up and push the button on the door handle to unlock and get in and push the start button to go. Easy cheesy lemon squeezey!

Even though we don’t have a large family, I can certainly appreciate that the Kia Sorento easily accommodates seven passengers with third row seating. My previous experience with friends’ vehicles with this type of feature was that it was difficult and basically a PITB to accomplish. Can you imagine my surprise when I was able to fold down the second row seat for 3rd row access in about 1.67 seconds flat?IMG 4344

Speaking of access to the third row, its actually pretty spacious back there. They are “real” seats (not small bucket versions of seats meant for half-pint sized people) that I, myself, would not mind sitting in for a lengthy ride. I will pause here for a second and state that with the 3rd row of seats up, there is very little to no room left in the back for “trunk” or storage space. You may be able to fit maybe 3 or 4 grocery bags in a line back there.

But this is where the roof rack comes in handy – one of those roof top storage pods would be a wise additional investment – especially for ski trips.

I should also pause here to mention that little old me can fold down and set up the 3rd row seating with just ONE HAND and a gentle pull on either one of these straps. IMG 4341Yep – you have the option of setting up one or both 3rd row seats. Now if that isn’t the definition of EASY, I’m not sure what is (and the headrest automatically folds over and tucks in too!).

Oh – I almost forgot. While the 60/40 split second row is a great feature, what really put a smile on my face was the fact that the seats also RECLINE! Maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but I have never seen this feature before on a “back seat”.

Overall, I really enjoyed the 2012 Kia Sorento and found myself touting its praises to friends and family. I feel that if you are considering any of the Kia Sorento competitors (like the IMG 4354Acura RDX, Ford Edge, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Rogue, Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda Tribute, Dodge Nitro, Honda CR-V, or the Nissan Murano), that you may find some pretty noteworthy advantages in it’s favor – just be sure to do your homework!

While I’m usually extremely brand loyal, especially when it comes to cars, I’m being 100% completely honest when I say that the Kia Sorento will definitely be on my list of contenders when I am ready to take the plunge and buy a new car. It’s a good looking, versatile, tech savvy and packs a whole lot of bang for a reasonable amount of buck.

Disclaimer: A huge thank you to Kia for loaning me this vehicle for a week. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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