Weston, Florida ? After participating in Kia?s hypermiling contest earlier this year, we decided as long as we are in Florida, we might as well spend a little more quality time before heading back to the Northwest.
We borrowed a Kia Sorento and headed out to the new community of Weston, Florida, where we had a timeshare.? Weston is a fascinating new city, which was started in 1984, incorporated in 1996, and now has a population of over 60,000 residents living on the edge of the Everglades.?
Where we live in southern Washington state, the rains are cold and more drizzly, but we soon found that the Florida rains are heavy and much warmer. And heavy rains means flooding as we found out by large pools of water that often filled the roads.
We were glad we had the Sorento because of the higher clearance, which made it easier and safer to negotiate through those occasional deep pools of water.
As Kia?s largest SUV, the Sorento is a few inches shorter in length than the Lexus RX or Chevrolet Equinox, but it has three rows of seats designed to hold up to seven passengers.? Like most vehicles with three rows of seating, the Sorento?s rear seat is best left for children or a couple of adults for a short jaunt.? However, the space is great when the rear seat is folded, because it provides 37.0 cubic feet of cargo space, or for jumbo loads, the second row rear seat backs can be folded to expand that space to 72.5 cubic feet of cargo space, which is perfect for people who carry things like outdoor gear, building materials or big dogs.
??????????? The Sorento looks good with a unique styling that sets it apart from the SUV throng. ?It has the distinctive Kia-family grille, some interesting character lines on the hood and sides and a thick ?D? pillar that looks good but clips rear and side visibility a bit.
The perforated leather seating gives the interior an upscale look beyond what we would expect from a $30,000 SUV.? The interior is stylish, comfortable and spacious.
Being in a strange land, we were extremely grateful for the navigation system that kept us on course instead of veering wrongly on to one of the many Interstate highways or a back road into the Everglades.? By watching the map and entering destination the system led us through some amazing waterfront neighborhoods, to a great dinner theater and good parking sport for the water taxi.? As rank amateurs in ?tech talk? or talking to computers, ?we did most our destination setting the old fashion way, by pushing buttons and icons. ?It wasn?t necessary to pull to the side of the road every time we got urge to change our destination, because the Kia nav system allowed the front seat passenger to punch-in the destination on the go.
The Kia Sorento is available in two engine flavors at 276-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 or the 175-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder, which we drove.? Both engines have a standard six-speed automatic transmission.? Front-wheel drive is standard, but each model and each engine is available with an all-wheel drive option.
The four-cylinder model was perfect for our travels on the Florida freeways and crowded city streets.? The buff magazines list 0 to 60 mph times in the 9.6-second range, and the EPA lists fuel economy at 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway.? We actually averaged 27.5 mpg in week of mixed driving.
Kia Sorento is available in two trim levels, with pricing starting at $23,950 for the front-wheel drive LX and ranging to $35,650 for the AWD V-6 SX model.? All-wheel drive adds $1,700 to $2,200 depending on the model and the engine.? With the one available option, the SX price peaked at $36,350.
Kia vehicles are noted for their fantastic warranty, good quality and great value.? The value certainly was obvious on our vehicle, which came standard with a full range of power equipment, UVO in-vehicle infotainment, Sirius radio, Bluethooth?, Smart Key, cruise control and a numerous other features.?? The safety equipment list even included features like heated outside mirrors, a back-up warning system, hill start assist and a hill descent control.
Our mid-level EX had the Premium Package 1 that added leather seat trim, heated front seats, auto dimming mirror, HomeLink, power folding outside mirrors, memory seats, power passenger seat, navigation with Sirius Traffic?, Infinity surround sound audio and a 50/50 split folding third row seat.? That?s a lot of extras for $3,800.
The Kia Sorento was the first vehicle to be built in the U.S. in Kia?s new West Point, Georgia plant. ?In the Consumer Reports magazine tests, the Kia Sorento V-6 was number two and the four-cylinder was number seven in a list of 16 midsized SUVs and the four-cylinder gets their ?Recommended? check.
Our personal choice would probably be the V-6 with AWD, mostly because of our driving style and different climate in the Northwest.? Either engine delivers a very good level of performance and good fuel economy, plus we found it to be very comfortable to drive.