Thursday, April 11, 2013

Used Car Review - Kia Sorento (2003-2009)

Searching for a cheap SUV that can take you anywhere is no difficult task, with Myk Belmonte finding one just for you.

2003-2009 Kia Sorento

Kia, used to manufacture bicycles and steel tubes by hand previously, had ventured out in car manufacturing in 1974 with the Brisa range of vehicles until an industry consolidation, enforced in 1981, had the manufacturer focus on light trucks. A partnership with Ford occurred in 1986 as their comeback in the industry, with the Kia Avella and Kia Pride being assembled and sold worldwide.

While the Sportage and the Retona are their first attempts on the SUV market, the Sorento was a serious attempt on making Kia known more than cheap prices and long warranties. The first model (launched in 2002 in their home country) that we are reviewing here is truck based, which results to a rugged exterior and has the capability to go off-road. In fact, Kia took serious steps on becoming a competent automobile maker. 2009 was the last year for this vehicle.

Columbian Autocar Corporation brought this vehicle in our shores to enter the increasingly competitive SUV market (thanks to the removal of taxes based on engine displacement) back in 2003. It started with just a sole gasoline V6 engine, with a diesel joining the line-up the following year. It may never sold as much as the Fortuner, but it had a market and thus, served as an alternative to the common picks whose waiting lines disappointed potential buyers. Trim lines included the EX and the TX, sold briefly from 2005-2007.

Value and Costs
Seeking for an affordable mid-size SUV that can be an all-around vehicle? With units below 600k, the Sorento is a great choice, that's if you remove your doubts and biases towards Korean vehicles. In your shopping, you'll encounter a mix of local and Korean surplus units. Just make sure they run well since various reliability issues abound.

For low maintenance costs, best to go with the diesel models; not it is fuel efficient but due to the fact that this engine is the majority of all Sorentos in the country. The CRDi engine has running expenses that is on par with other rivals having that technology under their hood. Numerous parts shops specializing on Korean vehicles are increasing, so better start your parts hunting there.

Exterior and Interior
The exterior dimensions can be mistaken for a Lexus RX, due to the fact that this generation has a short wheelbase. If the Lexus sports elegant curves, the Sorento possess aggressive side profiles. So, despite having a generic grille, the silhouette remains butch badge notwithstanding.

Surprisingly, the interior is devoid of cheap materials that plagued cars from the land of Kimchi. Rather than the common fake wood panels in color of lumber prevalent in million-peso vehicles, a piano-black wood panel is spread across and thus, does not give an awkward look. Just remember that this vehicle seats five bodies, and buyers who usually travel with more than that given number would have to look elsewhere. Three in the back is fine but stuffing your relatives at the cargo compartment is a different can of worms.

Two engines were made available during the first generation Sorento's lifespan. First available from 2003-2005 models is the Sigma 3,497cc V6 gasoline that has 192hp at 5,500rpm and 294Nm at 3,000rpm. From 2004 until expiration date you can have a 2,497cc I4 diesel which carries 142hp at 3,800rpm and 324Nm at 2,000rpm. The 3.5 V6 runs smoothly and refined but fuel efficiency is not a forte of this engine. For econo-freaks, the 2.5 diesel accelerates well and a great all around performer.

Driving Impressions
When cornering, expect some body lean (although not to the level of danger) and steering can be dull. But it behaves well when driven on smooth and straight pavements as well as the dirt trails. The ride can get a bit bouncy but not that as the level of the Fortuner. A switch on the dash is standard but the low height can be wanting on serious off-road trails.

Test driving the first generation Sorento would make you convince to purchase this one. Forgive the somewhat bouncy ride and the badge but if all you need is a cheap SUV that delivers the goods, include this Kia on your shopping list.

The Good:
  • Body on frame can bring you anywhere
  • Punchy diesel engine
  • Not matagtag like the Fortuner
The Bad: 
  • Body on frame can mean a bumpy ride on potholes
  • Thirsty V6
  • Only seats five
The Pick: Just pick the diesel variants

Engines: 2,497 I4 diesel and 3,497cc Sigma V6 gasoline
Power: 142hp @ 3,800rpm (2.5 diesel), 192hp @ 5,500rpm (3.5 V6)
Torque: 324Nm @ 2,000rpm (2.5 diesel), 294Nm @ 3,000rpm (3.5 V6)
Fuel Consumption: 5-9km/L (city), 9-12km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 4-speed automatic (2003-2005), 5-speed automatic (2005-2009), 5-speed manual
Suspension: Front independent double wishbone, rear rigid axle 5 link with coil spring

Price (New): P1,050,000-P1,780,000
Price (Now): P310,000-P890,000
Rivals: Hyundai Santa Fe, Toyota Fortuner, Mitsubishi Montero Sport, Isuzu Alterra, Ford Everest
On Sale: 2003-2009

Kia Manila Bay - (02) 721-4589
Kia Pasay - (02) 852-1490
Kia Quirino Avenue - (02) 564-7872

Photos courtesy of

1 comment:

  1. very helpful!!! thanks for the information!! planning to buy a 2nd hand sorento soon..