After putting some miles on our long-term Sorento, editors have developed some pretty strong opinions. Everyone who has commented on the car starts with basic pleasantries. "Lots of cargo space in the rear, with the third row folded flat" commented associate editor Scott Evans. "The steering wheel controls are an example to be shown to other automakers" said associate online editor Benson Kong. I can't believe that this thing has a base price below twenty-five grand.

The compliments soon start to wander a little with things like, "I felt the seats were rather uncomfortable on a longish drive. After about two hours, my lower back ached and I had to stop, just to give my back a break," remarked Truck Trend editor Allyson Harwood after a road trip to Mammoth. On the same trip she noted, "The cabin was pleasantly quiet, but ride quality was disappointing. The Sorento seems to let in every bump, every road divot, every flaw in the pavement. That's just not right in a freeway cruiser." Evans supported the sentiment, saying, "The seats are very hard and after an hour in the car my wife and I were getting rather uncomfortable."

The car was clearly designed with shorter people in mind. Anyone over 5-feet 8-inches will feel like an NBA forward on a tricycle sitting in the driver's seat of the Sorento. The controls sit way too low and seats way too high. Taller drivers like myself, find themselves looking out of the top two inches of the windshield and passengers in all three rows have complained of claustrophobia.

One of the key selling points of the Sorento is that it is a reasonably priced three-row SUV. If you have a family of small people it is probably ideal. The third-row seats are really only for children. Editors report that if you manage to squeeze adults in back, they are uncomfortable even for short drives. It is a rare combination to find a third row in this size of vehicle, so as long as owners are realistic, they will be very happy with the "just in case space." Our Sorento is on the high side of the pricing structure of the model. Our tester is right around $36,000, which puts it within sight of a Toyota Highlander or Mazda CX-9, however if buyers were to chose drivetrains and options more carefully, the Sorento can be had for under $25,000.

So far, we haven't been blown away by the three-row Kia as a road tripper. There just isn't enough space to really call it a usable seven-passenger vehicle. We are impressed with the fact that Kia can deliver a five-passenger plus two small seats at the base price along with a 5-year/60,000-mile bumper to bumper warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. We will spend more time using the Kia as was intended, as an affordable suburban run-about and see if our opinion improves.

Our Car
Months/Miles in service 3/5020
Avg econ/CO2 18.3 mpg/1.06 lb/mi
Energy cons 184 kW-hr/100 mi
Unresolved problems None
Maintenance cost $0
Normal-wear cost $0