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2011 Kia Sorento

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The bottom line: No union or company is safe in a hotly competitive global market where consumers call the shots. That's especially true in the case of excellent products, such as the 2011 Sorento. My hunch is that no one will look for the union label when looking at that one. Some buyers might be pleased that it's built by Americans and Koreans in Georgia. But most will be wowed by the quality of the product and the affordability of the deal.

Complaints: I found none in 620 miles of driving.

Ride, acceleration and handling: It gets good marks in all three.

Body style/layout: The 2011 Kia Sorento is a front-engine, all-wheel-drive crossover wagon with four doors and a rear hatch.

Head-turning quotient: Redesign inside and out yields a much more attractive 2011 Sorento than previous models. The new Sorento, in fact, will be among the best-looking family haulers on the market.

Engine/transmission: It comes with a standard 3.5-liter, 24-valve, direct overhead cam V-6 that develops 273 horsepower at 6,300 rotations per minute and 247 foot-pounds of torque at 5,000 RPM. The engine is mated to a six-speed transmission that can be shifted automatically or manually.

Capacities: There are seats for seven people. Maximum cargo capacity is 73 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. That space shrinks to 9.1 cubic feet with the rear seats up. The fuel tank holds 18 gallons of recommended regular gasoline.

Mileage: You get 19 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. I discovered that you can get at least 2 gallons more on the highway simply by obeying the speed limits.

Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes with antilock brake protection, electronic stability and traction control, and eight air bags (two front-mounted and two side air bags on front seats plus a total of four front, third-row and rear head air bags).

Price: The 2011 Sorento goes on sale in the fall of 2010. At this writing, there is no official price schedule. Industry speculation is that Kia will introduce the 2011 Sorento at a base price of $22,000, which, if true, would mark a relatively small $545 increase above the base price of the current Sorento -- still a pretty good deal considering the engineering and design improvements in the 2011 model.

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