Road Test: 2012 Kia Sorento

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Back in 1996 a book came out called The Millionaire Next Door. It explained how there were lots of people who had lots of money because they lived below their means. Of course, the basic problem with that theory is that it’s hard to convince your spouse to live in a junky house and drive an old beater when you’ve got some serious cash in the bank.

That’s why I think the Kia Sorento is the perfect family car for the Millionaire Next Door. You see, a fully loaded Kia Sorento EX with a four-cylinder engine will sticker at $30,600.

2012 Kia Sorento - Will buying the car help you retire in style?

I want to point that out right off the back, because it’s screaming deal. For your $30k you’ll get all the stuff you’d expect in a more expensive car. My test car was an EX model with a 2.4 liter engine and six speed automatic transmission. It also had what Kia calls Premium Package 1 which added leather seats, a better sound system, a third row seat, remote folding outside mirrors and memory seating for the driver.

And the sticker on my test car was $30,600.

Don’t get me wrong, the Sorento is not a luxury car. It is, however, a solid crossover that will carry you and all your family (or friends) with reasonable style. You’ll be living below your means, but you won’t feel it. What you have to ask yourself, is why you need to spend more.

2012 Kia Sorento - The Driver's View

If you need serious horsepower when you hit the throttle, you’ll need to shell out extra cash. And Kia is happy to help. It also has a 3.5 liter, six cylinder 274 horsepower engine for a few thousand more. But if all you’re looking for is a car that will get you up to freeway speed in a reasonably quick time, and have a little reserve for passing that annoying car ahead of you who doesn’t seem to realize that merging means matching the speed of traffic, the four-cylinder will do just fine. The Gas Direct Engine pumps out 191 horsepower and delivers 22 mpg in town, and 32 mpg on the highway. (The base model has a four-cylinder which delivers only 175 horsepower). The Sorento’s six speed transmission never felt like it was clunking along.

2012 Kia Sorento Interior

Inside, my test model had the $3,800 premium package with all the goodies mentioned above. You’ll know the difference when you’re in a Mercedes or a BMW. But your friends won’t who go along for a ride in your Sorento won’t think you went cheap. There are plenty of controls on the steering wheel and the console display worked well. It’s a pleasant look without having the need to impress with expensive trim.

2012 Kia Sorento

Outside, the styling doesn’t take any chances, but it’s not bad. The design was updated last year and I like it much better than the old model. The front end has a hefty look to it, and the rest qualifies as simple in a nice way. It’s not quite as aggressive looking as the Kia Sportage (it’s smaller sibling), but it delivers quite well. Again, it’s not a luxury car. You’ll know that when you see it. But then you’re not paying luxury prices. Did I mention $30,600?

2012 Kia Sorento - Simple from this angle

It wasn’t that long ago that Korean cars were a joke. They looked funny and they ran lousy. Those days are long gone. Not only have their looks improved, their mechanicals are great as well. The proof is in Kia’s 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and 5 year/60,000 basic warranty. If you have been avoiding Kias in the past, it’s time to give them a serious look.

The goal of The Millionaire Next Door is to live under your means so you can save like crazy. The goal of a happy marriage is to avoid making your spouse think you’re so cheap that they’re not worth a quality investment. I think the Kia Sorento will help you succeed on both counts.

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