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Prominent SUV models defect to CUV side - Metro US

Prominent SUV models defect to CUV side

Crossovers rule and SUVs drool.

That’s not quite how the analysts describe the ongoing shift from truck-based SUVs to car-based crossovers, but close.

As such, we’re used to seeing CUVs (crossover utility vehicles) torment their SUV classmates in the sales-chart playground. But now we’re even seeing iconic SUV nameplates “crossing over.”

The highest profile defector is the upcoming all-new Ford Explorer, which joins the CUV crowd after spending all its life up until now as a truck. But beating it to the punch is the 2011 Kia Sorento.

The nameplate was first introduced in 2002 as a straight-up SUV. Now that Kia is owned by Hyundai, and now that old-school SUVs are, well, old school, the Sorento has migrated over to the platform that also underpins the Hyundai Santa Fe crossover and the Sonata sedan.

So if you’re familiar with the 2010 Santa Fe, you’ll be relatively up to speed on the 2011 Sorento.

Judging by our first fling with the Sorento on the highways and by-ways around West Point, Ga., where the Sorento is being built at Kia’s first U.S. plant, it’s a tough call on which Sorento you should get — both the entry-level four-cylinder vehicle and the higher-rent six-cylinder vehicles have something to say.

The base model (LX) with 175-hp 2.4 litre I4, manual transmission and FWD is just $23,995.

At that price it competes with the “smaller half” of the compact segment, but it offers up the interior volume (4,035 L) of the “larger half.”

Note also that all Canadian models come standard with these all-weather tools: heated seats, A/C, windshield wiper de-icer, and power heated outside mirrors. All trim lines also feature six air bags, ABS, ESC, Electronic Brake Distribution, Hill Start Assist Control, and Downhill Brake Control.

The V6 is exclusively mated to automatics, starting at $29,095. The EX range begins with the FWD V6 at $31,795, and tops out with the seven-seat AWD Luxury trim model at $39,195.

Drivers will be pleasantly surprised at the fine handling and quiet ride of all Sorento models — and the main reason why Sorento is way better off on this lighter “car platform,” with fully independent suspension. The least expensive seven-seat model is the FWD V6 LX at $30,295.

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