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Average User Score
4.1 ⁄ 5 stars
Based on 8 reviews
2003 Kia Sorento Overview
Overall User Score
Based on 8 reviews
For years, the compact Sportage was Kia's only SUV offering. In 2003, the Sportage is taken briefly off the market in order to introduce the new Kia Sorento, a small to mid-size SUV that features true off-roading capability. The 2003 Sorento is about the same size as the Mazda Tribute, with two rows of seating for five passengers. This means a little extra legroom for comfort. It comes in LX and the more upscale EX trim, each offered in either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
Powered by a 3.4-liter, 192-hp V6 engine and 4-speed automatic, power is adequate, but tends to complain a bit when accelerating on the highway. What makes the 2003 Sorento unique is its low-range four-wheel drive capability, giving it true off-road performance. A high ground clearance and skid plates also help in this department. The four-wheel drive comes standard as part-time, engaged by the driver. On the EX, there is an optional Torque-On-Demand 4WD that engages automatically when needed and can be used on dry pavement.
Kia has outfitted even its base model 2003 Sorento nicely, with full power features, cruise control, four power outlets, a CD player, and a multitude of storage compartments. Dual front-side and side-curtain airbags for both rows are standard. ABS brakes are only optional, and no traction or stability control is offered. The EX adds on power driver's seat, wheel-mounted controls, leather and wood trim, a garage opener, and a sunroof. Heated leather seats are optional on the EX. Rear seats fold down to expand the cargo area to 66 cubic feet, and the rear window opens separately from the hatch, for easy access.
Though just in its first year, most owners of the 2003 Sorento are happy with the smooth ride, comfortably seats, tight maneuverability, and the off-roading features of their SUV. They say it also feels safe and sturdy, and the price can't be beat, considering you get comparable features to other mid-size SUVs. Some complaints mention the lack of a third row, road noise, early brake wear, and the lousy fuel economy.