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2012 Kia Sorento: Used Car Review

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author photo by Ron Sessions May 2015

The 2012 Kia Sorento is Kia's largest, most capable crossover vehicle. It's well equipped too, with a long roster of standard equipment for the money. The Sorento is available in both 2-row, 5-passenger and 3-row, 7-passenger configurations. Cargo space is generous, with 37 cu ft. available aft of the second-row seat and 72.5 cu ft. open with the second-row seat folded flat. The maximum towing capacity is 3,500 pounds.

Both front- and 4-wheel drive are offered, with the latter sporting a lockable electronic center differential that routes drive torque effectively to all four wheels. Also aiding back-road and poor-weather driving is standard hill-start assist, which keeps the Sorento from rolling back when starting on a hill, and downhill brake control, which helps keep the vehicle pointed straight ahead when descending steep downslopes.

Standard safety gear on all Sorento models includes dual front- and side-impact airbags, overhead airbags for the first two seat rows, active front-seat head restraints, 4-wheel disc anti-lock brakes with brake assist, and stability and traction control.

New for 2012 is a direct-injected version of the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, which offers more power and torque. Sorentos with cloth seats are upgraded with anti-bacterial, anti-stain YES Essentials fabric for 2012. New options include a heated steering wheel, power-folding mirrors, a memory driver's seat and a power passenger's seat.

What We Like

Well equipped for the money; 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty; flat-folding second- and third-row seats; locking center differential on 4-wheel-drive model; panoramic sunroof

What We Don't

Bumpy ride quality over rough pavement; lacks rear cross-traffic alert and blind spot monitoring system; tow rating is just 3,500 pounds

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2012 Sorento is available with a 175-horsepower port-injected or 191-hp direct-injected 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine or a 3.5-liter V6.

The LX comes with a port-injected 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine making 175 hp and 169 lb-ft of torque. Equipped with front-wheel drive, the 2.4-liter has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway with the 6-speed manual transmission and 20 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with the 6-speed automatic. The 4-wheel-drive version with the 6-speed automatic is also EPA-rated at 20 mpg city/26 mpg hwy.

Optional on LX and standard on EX models is a direct-injected 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 191 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. It's EPA-rated at 21 mpg city/30 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive and 20 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with 4-wheel drive.

Standard on the SX is a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 276 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. On front-wheel-drive versions, the engine is EPA-rated at 20 mpg city/26 mpg hwy, while 4-wheel-drive models receive an 18 mpg city/24 mpg hwy rating. It also uses regular unleaded fuel.

Standard Features & Options

The 2012 Kia Sorento is available in LX, EX and SX trims.

The Sorento LX offers standard air conditioning, Bluetooth, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with SiriusXM, USB input jacks, cruise control, remote keyless entry, a trip computer, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel with remote audio controls, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated outside mirrors, and power windows and door locks. LX options include a backup camera, heated front seats, fog lamps and roof rails.

Sorento EX models gain 18-in alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, fog lamps, auto headlamps, push-button starting, backup sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. EX models can also be optioned with leather seats, a panoramic sunroof, voice-activated navigation with real-time traffic, a 10-speaker Infinity premium sound system, interior mood illumination and rear-seat DVD entertainment.

The Sorento SX upgrades to voice-activated navigation, a 10-speaker Infinity surround-sound audio system, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, the HomeLink garage-door opener, stainless-steel pedals, illuminated sill plates, heated front seats, leather-trimmed first- and second-row seats, chrome exhaust tips, polished 18-in alloys, LED taillamps and more.


The Sorento is one of Kia's best-selling vehicles, so there should be a decent supply of used examples on used-car lots. Expect to pay more for well-equipped, V6-powered EX models. Four-wheel drive is nice to have but doesn't command a huge premium because front-drive Sorentos with all-weather rubber can handle the vast majority of inclement-weather driving situations.

To get a good idea of the 2012 Sorento's price range, check out You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.


As of the publication of this article, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued no safety recalls for the 2012 Sorento.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

NHTSA gave the 2012 Sorento a 4-star overall rating, with five stars in side impacts and four stars in frontal impacts and rollover performance.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2012 Sorento Good ratings for side- and moderate-overlap front impacts, as well as head-restraint and seat performance. It was also an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2012.

Kia sold the 2012 Sorento with a 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, an industry-leading 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty (for original owners only), a 5-year/100,000-mile corrosion-perforation warranty and 5 years/60,000 miles of roadside-assistance coverage.

A Kia certified pre-owned vehicle can't be more than 5 years old or have more than 60,000 miles on the odometer. Every certified pre-owned Sorento gets a 150-point inspection. Each receives a 1-year/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and the remainder of the vehicle's original 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Also included is a Carfax vehicle-history report and roadside assistance.

Other Cars to Consider

2012 Chevrolet Equinox -- Chevy's Equinox seats just five, but its rear seat slides fore and aft to allow owners to custom-tailor passenger and cargo space according to the task at hand. V6 fuel economy is below par, but the Chevy's 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine beats the Sorento with an impressive 22 mpg city/32 mpg hwy EPA rating. New for 2012 are available lane-departure and collision-warning systems.

2012 Dodge Journey -- The Journey packs a lot of interior space and can carry up to seven passengers as long as the rearmost pair is junior sized. The Journey excels in offering hidden storage compartments, with one under the front-passenger seat cushion and two under the rear floor.

Autotrader's Advice

The Sorento's new-for-2012 direct-injected 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine offers a good blend of around-town power and fuel economy, but if you do a lot of highway driving, the 3.5-liter V6 offers better oomph for passing and merging situations. We'd go with a well-optioned 7-passenger EX for the best in day-to-day livability and resale value down the road. Selecting a Kia certified pre-owned vehicle can help take the worry out of buying a used car. Always look for a vehicle that's enjoyed obvious care and maintenance. Although the 2012 Sorento had no safety recalls as of this writing, always check with the dealer to make sure any possible subsequent safety recalls have been addressed on the vehicle you are considering purchasing.

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2012 Kia Sorento: Used Car Review - Autotrader