The Sorento stands a bit taller among the six's competitors, outsprinting the CX-7, Edge, and Equinox pretty handily at 7.6 seconds in the 60-mph dash. Both Toyotas and the CVT-equipped Murano are quicker (each in matching AWD trim). The V-6 is quiet and smooth enough that it actually made us think it wasn't much quicker than the four. It usually isn't working as hard, and indeed the fuel economy penalty, by EPA's reckoning, is only 1 mpg city and highway. (A six-speed manual will be offered with the four and will surely be the mileage champ, but none was available to sample, and EPA numbers haven't been determined yet). An ECO light on the dash helps drivers remain within the efficiency sweet-spot, and we were impressed that it stayed on during highway cruising at 70 mph or so.

It should be noted, too, that both Sorentos, equipped with the larger 235/60R18 footwear (LXs get 235/65R17s), exhibited best-in-class braking, at 119 feet in the four and 121 feet in the V-6. Only the CX-7 manages to match them at 119 feet.

Do potential CUV buyers care how fast their three-row wagon-on-stilts sprints through the quarter mile? Well, they certainly won't be driving the family down to the local strip on bracket-racing night, but trust us, when the family piles in for that Wallyworld road trip, it's the vehicles that perform at the front or middle of the pack that'll be passing the big-rigs, while the back-o'-the-packers sit and fume. We'd have saved some space to tell you about how adroitly the Sorento generates g and cleaves to an apex (which also probably seems pretty inconsequential for this class but isn't), except central and southwest Georgia offers precious little of that sort of running. So stay tuned for a proper comparo, conducted on our terms and on our turf for a more definitive ruling on Kia's latest crossover.

2011 Kia Sorento
Base price range$20,000-$28,500 (est)
Price as tested$24,000; $31,000 (est)*
Vehicle layoutFront-engine, FWD, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door, SUV
Engines2.4L/172-hp/166-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4; 3.5L/273-hp/247-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6*
Transmission6-speed automatic
Curb weight3700; 3950 lb (mfr)*
Wheelbase106.3 in
Length x width x height183.8 x 74.2 x 67.3 in
0-60 mph9.6; 7.6 sec*
Quarter mile17.2 sec @ 81.0 mph; 15.9 @ 89.6 mph*
Braking, 60-0 mph119; 121 ft
EPA city/hwy fuel econ21/28; 19/27 mpg*
CO2 emissions0.82; 0.88 lb/mile*
*EX 2.4L FWD 7-pass; EX 3.5L AWD 7-pass