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2012 Sorento EX GDI
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Discussion Starter #1
Can the 2011+ models that are FrontWD only handle gnarly off road travel. Not like boulders, but rutty, bumpy stuff. I almost got stranded in my rear wheel drive Chevy truck while off road. The skies opened up and things started to get sloppy and slippery and I found myself wishing for the kia as it has front drive. I just wonder if it can handle the lumpy bouncy ruts.

I have learned...
My Chevy RWD ground clearance: 8"
Sorento: 7.5"

I figure somebody here lives out off the grid and must have had to drive one on crappy unmaintained roads. To me it seems like my Sorento should be able to handle it, but it seems so much like a car I figure I better ask. Obviously I am talking about 10 to 15mph driving.
 

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Your FWD drivetrain layout will likely be better than the RWD chevy (except for possibly going up hills). The lack of ground clearance and lack of skids will hold you back way before the drivetrain likely will. Also ground clearance is measured differently on RWD pickups vs FWD crossovers. The pickup is always measured from the bottom of the rear diff, so that is truly as low as it goes. Crossovers measure from a variety of places, but suffice to say that parts of the Sorento may be lower than 7" standing still on the ground, and they will get lower as the suspension gets compressed.
 

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2013 Kia Sportage EX
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Call them what you want, but vehicles like these are really just cars with a boxy body. They were meant to be driven on highways, not off-road. The AWD version just helps you get around better in the winter. If you want to go off the beaten path, get a 4WD. If I have any serious towing or off-roading to do, I use my GMC Sierra Z71 4WD. It has the power, 4WD, suspension and skid plates to tow and go off-road. My Sorento is for going to work and the store and trips that don't involve leaving the pavement.
 

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2012 Sorento EX GDI
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Discussion Starter #4
Interesting Phillyguy. These crossovers look and smell like a truck, but I always had that nagging feeling they were a bit dainty. I wish I had taken a picture of the road, but at the time I just wanted to get the heck out of there before it all became a huge mud bog. RWD blows chunks in mud as you know. That's where the thought of the Kia came to mind. I keep thinking "it has to be tough enough to handle ruts and whopps." When dry the chevy does a fine job of bouncing over them.

I would like to hear people's thoughts and experiences. I am a bit disappointed that these newest crossovers have been so neutered. But I knew it somewhat going in. After all, the Sorento was bought to be a commuter.
 

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Call them what you want, but vehicles like these are really just cars with a boxy body. They were meant to be driven on highways, not off-road. The AWD version just helps you get around better in the winter. If you want to go off the beaten path, get a 4WD. If I have any serious towing or off-roading to do, I use my GMC Sierra Z71 4WD. It has the power, 4WD, suspension and skid plates to tow and go off-road. My Sorento is for going to work and the store and trips that don't involve leaving the pavement.
Completely agree. These are cars with a slight lift, more interior space, and in some cases an AWD system. They are champs in lousy road conditions, but will not do well in a "true" off road setting.

Now, I take mine through a variety of trails at the hunting camp and its not a problem. Anything that is a dirt/gravel/grass path, with few if any ruts and no big obstacles your sorento will do fine with. Beyond that it will be impressive how far you can get it in much nastier terrain, but when you hit that one log, or rock, or rut, you are royally screwed as you are hopelessly stuck and/or you just lost yourself a nice piece of exhaust or oil pan or transfer case, etc.

The problem is that most people have no concept of what real trails are like, and think of "off roading" similar to what I do at the hunting camp. "Real" off roading is a fairly technical skill, and will call for (generally) a lifted vehicle with appropriate tires (the Sorento's tires are worthless for off roading), a true lockable transfer case that will not overheat (the Sorento's will) and that has a 4 low setting for dealing with hills and (sometimes) mud. You will want skid plates because losing the transfer case / diff / oil pan out in the middle of nowhere blows. If fording water you may want to install a snorkel. You may want to extend the vent tubes on your diffs so they don't go milkshake on you. Depending on the trails and who you have with you a winch is a really good idea. And if you are doing seriously nasty stuff rear and possibly front lockers may be required (I have never seen anything remotely difficult enough to require rear and front lockers, but I know that such trails do exist and I know that I lack the skill to get through them even with all of those tools).

So in conclusion if you are asking about the "off roading" where you are driving through fairly flat fields or pre existing gravel/dirt/grass paths through the woods you will very likely be fine. Much more than that though and you are taking a risk of doing some nasty damage underneath. Your call though.

I am starting to think about picking up a used Frontier, doing some basic maintenance on it and putting on skids/slight lift/maybe 33's so that I can access some more difficult to reach places out by the camp. If I were planning to truly test myself off road I would lift more, get 35's. Put in an ARB rear locker, put in a Titan front diff, and probably think about replacing the suspension all around. Very different vehicles with very different setups for very different purposes.
 

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Interesting Phillyguy. These crossovers look and smell like a truck, but I always had that nagging feeling they were a bit dainty. I wish I had taken a picture of the road, but at the time I just wanted to get the heck out of there before it all became a huge mud bog. RWD blows chunks in mud as you know. That's where the thought of the Kia came to mind. I keep thinking "it has to be tough enough to handle ruts and whopps." When dry the chevy does a fine job of bouncing over them.

I would like to hear people's thoughts and experiences. I am a bit disappointed that these newest crossovers have been so neutered. But I knew it somewhat going in. After all, the Sorento was bought to be a commuter.
Yeah, it is sad but true, they are not built for robust use in that type of setting. They are champs at moving people and cargo on road in all sorts of road conditions though. They run circles around pickups and Jeeps in that capacity. If you are dead set on trying some more difficult terrain out I would at least change the tires. The OEM tires will definitely get you stuck in anything that is even remotely challenging. Unfortunately stupid Hyundai/Kia put 18x7 wheels on these things which leaves horrible all terrain tire selections. There is one general grabber tire that will fit on the OEM wheels.

That is one of my pet peeves about the vehicles because I would prefer to put all terrains on since (in my experience) they outdo all seasons in snow, and certainly outdo them trucking around the hunting camp or on some nastier logging roads. Since there is only the one choice and its still not perfect, and circumstances are changing in my life I think I am just going to go with a second vehicle for outdoor / beater stuff. I'm just waiting for gas prices to go back up so that everyone dumps their pickups and I can get one of them nice and cheap. :lol:
 
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