The SX will only come with the 3.5-liter V-6 serving up 276 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. The most significant change under the skin isn't immediately visible. Kia's new dual-flow damper shock absorbers reside behind the shiny wheels and are matched to the crossover's MacPherson front and multi-link rear suspension. The DFD design is a precursor of things to come within the Kia lineup, as the shocks will eventually make their way as standard equipment on the Sorento's LX and EX trims (scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year). Ride development engineers dropped the ride height by 10 millimeters, or 0.4 inches in old Imperial, to lower the center of gravity and help with handling. On long stretches of rural highway, the ride proved more comfortable, although noticeable wind noise is pretty unavoidable in this segment.

Kia didn't go into the exact construction of its DFD shocks, but we presume the damping profile offers increased damping force for more aggressive driving, and less to snuff out road imperfections. It's the type of best-of-both-worlds mentality that is putting Kia on the maps of consumers who might not have given the Korean brand an ounce of consideration in the past.

It will cost a bundle compared to the other models in the stable, but if you really must have the most unique Sorento on the block, the SX is the golden ticket.

2011 Kia Sorento SX
Base price $34,690
Vehicle layout Front-engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 3.5L/276-hp/248-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Curb weight 3900 lb (mfr)
Wheelbase 106.3 in
Length x width x height 183.9 x 74.2 x 69.1 in
0-60 mph 7.6 sec (MT est)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 19/25 mpg
CO2 emissions 0.91 lb/mi
On sale in U.S. Now