June 8, 2012

Review: Kia Sorento, Kia Carens

For families that need more than five seats in a car, here is an option with flexibility: the Kia Sorento is a two- to seven-seater crossover that is nearly two feet shorter than the standard minivan: easy to park, and with real-life average fuel efficiency up to 32 mpg: easy on the family budget.


The seating is in a 2-3-2 arrangement, with the second row foldable in a 60-40 configuration, and the two third-row seats foldable independently, handy for transporting long narrow things. Even with the third row up, you can still stow a cello way in the back (just).


As usual (this is getting to be boring), the US version comes with the largest engines: your "choices" are between a 2.4L, 191 HP gasoline GDI injection engine rated at 22/32 mpg (cty/hwy), and a 3.5L V6 that gets a fuel efficiency as measly as 18/24 mpg for the all-wheel drive version. All US offerings have automatic transmission, tacking about $1000 onto the price tag (plus the additional cost of gas, about 10% higher than for the manual transmission).

In the South Korean home market, Kia offers this car with a choice of two gasoline engines: a 2.0L E-VGT (35mpg) and a 2.2L E-VGT (33mpg). (These MPG numbers are overstated, but only slightly: for comparison, on Toyota's Korean website the Camry is quoted as having a fuel efficiency of 30mpg, whereas it is rated at 28mpg by the US EPA). As far as I can tell both versions have automatic transmission (while looking at the Korean script is amusing, I couldn't recognise anything except the roman-script "USB" option for one of the trims).

In the UK, it's just diesels on the menu. You can buy the basic trim of the Sorento (imaginatively named "1") as a five-seater with a 2.0L, 148HP diesel engine. 7-seat Sorentos are available with a 2.2L, 194HP engine, also running on diesel: enough power to get your family out on a nice camping trip in the Lake District. There are rails for a roof rack where you can stow extra gear, and if you bring a caravan or trailer you can tow up to 2500kg (5500lbs).There is choice of manual or auto transmission, and two- or all-wheel drive. The table below shows stats for a 7-seater with two-wheel drive and manual transmission. Real drivers report an average fuel economy of 32mpg for this version: I would settle for that if I had to move more than five people often enough.


Photo by Mick via Wikimedia Commons

However, for the UK even the Sorento is sort of a large MPV. If you need the third row seats only occasionally, and are looking for savings both in the purchase price and in the operating cost, you might well consider the Kia Carens. It's six inches shorter overall than the Sorento, so with the third row in use you won't have that much storage space left.

It comes with either a 1.6L, 133HP gasoline engine or a 1.6L, 126HP diesel engine; both are available with manual transmission only. The diesel version gets a road-proven and very sweet 41mpg fuel economy. If that weren't enough inspiration to learn to drive with a stick, the price tag for the 7-seat Carens is £ 9,000 less than for the Sorento. That kind of money would pay for driving lessons, plus quite a few camping trips, even if you might not want to take it up the steepest roads in the Lake District - or the Rockies - with a trailer in tow. Certainly it would do very well for moving your children, their gear and a few friends around most towns.

Both the Sorento and the Carens come with Kia's 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty, a welcome relief in a world where warranties have shrunk to mostly 3 years and 30,000 miles.


Kia Sorento (US, UK); Kia Carens (UK)

2.4 I4 A/T
2.2 CRDi
1.6L CRDi
Type LX KX-1 2
Year 2013 2012 2012
Emissions rating EURO5 "H" EURO5 "F"

$ 23,150

£ 25,005
($ 38,844)
£ 16,000
($ 24,700)
CelloMom Rating      
Fuel Economy:
City/Hwy quoted 22 / 32 mpg 28 / 44 mpg 36 / 45 mpg
Avg. quoted 25 mpg 36mpg
171 g CO2/km
41 mpg
146 g CO2/km
Avg. actual 23 mpg 32 mpg 41 mpg

2.4L GDI

2.2 CRDi 1.6L CRDi
Power 175 HP
169 lbs-ft
194 HP
422Nm (311 lbft)
126 HP
@4000 rpm
Transmission 6-spd Auto CVVT 6-spd Manual 6-spd Manual
Fuel Reg. unleaded Diesel Diesel
Length, mm(in) 183.5 in 4685 mm 4545 mm
Width, mm(in) 74.2 in 1885 mm 1820 mm
Height, mm(in) 68.3 in 1745 mm 1700 m
Weight, kg(lbs) 3845 lbs 1830 - 1915 kg 1605 - 1715 kg
Trunk volume, liters(cuft) 9.1 / 37.0 / 72.5 cuft 111 - 1525 L 74 - 2106L
Turning radius 35.7 ft c-c 5.4 m 5.4 m
Top speed   182 kph
(113 mph)
179 kph
(111 mph)

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