2011 Kia Sorento Cute, Cool and Affordable>

Kia Sorento. The name sounds like one of your cute BFFs from middle school…or that hot cheerleader that (grrrr) had all the boys smitten. But in this case, Kia Sorento is a sweet, versatile crossover that’s on the affordable end of the new car spectrum. So you can’t hate it just because it’s beautiful.

To achieve its new good looks, the 2011 Kia Sorento received a significant makeover from Kia’s previous model year. Despite being roomy and comfy on the inside, its softer, curvier lines make it appear more petite than most crossover and utility vehicles. In our view, the Sorento’s modern styling is as attractive as many vehicles costing thousands more.

While it’s in the midsize crossover class, the Sorento presents a robust 72.5 cubic feet of space (when you fold down the both rows of rear seats). So it’s great for your shopping marathons or carrying big-ticket items. With the back seat upright, there are 37.6 inches of rear legroom for your passengers. The Sorento can be had with two or three rows of seats— a great option for carpool moms.

On the topic of safety, the Sorento is on solid ground. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety gave the Sorento top marks for front, side, and rear impact collisions. The Sorento also features stability control, which is a must for any Top Safety Pick.

Some women are more power-hungry than others. But that’s okay, because the Sorento offers two engine choices: a 2.4-liter four cylinder with 175 horsepower and a spirited 3.5-liter V6 with 276 horsepower. With the four-cylinder you’ll get a thrifty 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Surprisingly, the more powerful V6 is nearly as fuel efficient— with estimated 20/26 mpg numbers from the EPA.

Even though it’s among the more economic choices for a five-passenger crossover, the Sorento isn’t stingy in terms of trendy technology. Standard features include Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, auxiliary and USB inputs for your MP3 player and Sirius satellite radio. The satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, and power windows are upgrades that will up the price.

Compared to its crossover classmates, the Sorento delivers a ride that is a bit more stiff and sporty. Overall, the Kia Sorento won us over with its combination of good looks, cool technology, functional interior, and very respectable safety scores. Click here and Her Highway will take you to pricing and local availability.