Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Kia Sorento Pictures
The 2011 Kia Sorento — which will occupy showrooms in early January 2010 — is the first vehicle that will roll out of Kia’s brand-new manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia. Called Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG), the plant lies on a sprawling 2,200-acre plot in the rural rolling hills near the Alabama border, and it has been built to support the production of up to 300,000 vehicles per year.The crossover world is bracing for change with the arrival of the 2011 Kia Sorento. Formerly a truck-based SUV with frame rails and some real off-road capability, the new Sorento leaves the trails behind for a new mission that’s all about toting families in car-like comfort. It’s aimed at the likes of the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Ford Edge-a mix of smaller and larger car-based utility vehicles. The Sorento fits in the Kia lineup between the small Sportage and the big Borrego SUV, and enters production later this year at a new factory in West Point, Georgia. It goes on sale during the first week in January with a base price of less than $20,000, and comes in LX, EX and EX V-6 versions.The new 2011 Kia Sorento is now technically a crossover — as opposed to an SUV — because it rides on a unibody platform. In theory, that should mitigate the bouncy ride attributed to traditional body-on-frame SUVs, which is what the Sorento used to be, but the new Sorento’s suspension makes it feel as bouncy as any SUV I’ve tested.The 2011 Kia Sorento is a comfortable crossover over smooth roads, but hit some potholes or expansion joints and it starts to buck. It’s something any owner of a Nissan Pathfinder or Ford Explorer — both traditional SUVs — is likely familiar with, but those comparing the Sorento with a CR-V or Nissan Murano — both crossovers — might be in for a rude surprise.With so much competition from both compact and midsize crossovers, the 2011 Kia Sorento has to do a lot right to win consumers. The good news for Kia is that the 2011 Kia Sorento is as impressive as it is. Its bouncy ride might turn off some shoppers, but its low price helps make up for that shortcoming. For shoppers who need severe-weather capability, the Sorento stands out in its class thanks to its affordability, array of standard features and relatively nice interior. Though the 2011 Kia Sorento can cost more than $29,000 if you opt for the highest trim, a modestly equipped base model is quite a good value.
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