When the Kia brand arrived in the U.S. in 1994, the company followed closely in the footsteps of its Korean cousin Hyundai by providing an enormous amount of content at a miniscule price. In any given category, the Kia offering would be good-looking, nicely equipped, and in most cases, thousands of dollars cheaper than the competing models in its given segment.
When the Sorento debuted in 2003, market tastes in mid-size crossovers had begun to shift. Manufacturers were just starting to figure out what SUV buyers really wanted was a vehicle offering a high seating position; a tall, SUV-esque profile; a rear hatch, and folding rear seats in order to increase the cargo capability of their autos. However, they also wanted said auto to ride, handle and park like a car.
Unfortunately Kia got that memo a bit late. Or fortunately, depending upon what it is you’re looking for in a pre-owned SUV. For those who want the look but not the feel of an SUV, as we mentioned before, the biggest thing the Kia had going for it was its lengthy equipment list and short price. However, the first generation Sorento also came to market with off-road cred up the wazoo—making it a fine choice for anyone looking for a trail-capable SUV at a modest price.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something with the look of an SUV but the manners of a street car, the second generation Sorento is where you should more likely focus your attention. Kia had its finger more firmly on the pulse of the majority of the buying public by the time that iteration of Kia’s mid-size entry was being sketched out. To date, there have been but two generations of the Sorento offered — with the first one coming to market in 2002, as a 2003 model.