There's a new 2011Kia Sorento in town. We know: The midsize crossover already holds the title of Kia's top seller after going on sale the first full week of this year, with dealers hawking some 68,000 units through August. Seeking to capitalize on its salable success, Kia has launched its Sorento SX. The new top-level model joins its LX and EX stablemates as a new sheriff in town, with more features, aesthetic distinctions, and one prominent suspension difference, plus a $32,990 price tag for the front-wheel drive and $34,690 with all-wheel drive.

Nowadays, the simplest way to separate any vehicle's highest trim from its lower-spec underlings is to add brightly colored garnish, and that's what the Sorento SX does. Restyled front and rear fascias, stainless-steel skidplates, LED taillights, chrome roof rails, and mirror-finish 18-inch alloy wheels are included with the higher cost of acquisition. The fresh sheetmetal getup gives the already crisp Sorento a subtle touch of class and blends exceptionally well with the Bright Silver paint choice.

Only the most exhaustive list of standard features will suffice inside, and the SX satisfies its billing with standard heated leather seats, 10-speaker Infinity surround sound system with navigation, stainless-steel pedals and door sill plates, and a SX-specific gauge cluster and stitched cluster housing. The seats are comfortable, spacious, and oriented in a predictably commanding position, giving the Sorento a lofty driving feel.

The SX's standard flip-down third-row seat will be tight for those standing more than 6 feet, or with long dancer's legs. When upright, it leaves little cargo space for items larger than a backpack. Air conditioning vents for the third row can be controlled by the most aft occupants, although particularly cruel drivers (or front passengers) can defeat the rear ventilation through a switch on the center stack. Like its smaller Sportage brethren, the center stack and console is visually pleasing and a fine execution of interior design. The faux carbon-fiber accents aren't worth a bat of an eye because the coloration doesn't look nearly rich enough to justify its existence.