In November of 2008, due to numberious gifts and the support of my home Church (Park CRC) in Holland, Michgan, I was able to purchase a vehicle. Just yesterday I turned over 10'000 kilometers, roughly 6,250 miles, so I thought would give a report about my impressions and maintenance history over the past year and a half of my 2003 Kia Sorento ownership.
The diesel engine does not have the immediate response of a gas engine, however for a 2.5 liter engine, is has really good low end torque. Gas mileage is about 18-20 MPG which is about half highway (50 mph) and half city driving. Gas continues to hover around $3.50 for diesel. Interior comfort is pretty high and I find that all 5 seats are usually full when I offer to drive to Orlando's (restaurant) for a weekly dose of the best grilled chicken this side of the equator.
I installed a 2 inch lift kit from Daystar, that helped a bit more with some of the pot holes and gives a little more aggresive stance. Also put on All Terrain tires which I purchased in Lima and had "shipped" on a bus to Pucallpa. The tires are GREAT in the mud and in 4 wheel drive I have never been stuck yet!
For as few miles as I put on the car, I have fixed a number of things. Parking brake, rear differential, air conditioning system (twice), power steering line, brake pads all around, ground 2 rotors, fixed leaky radiator (twice), and induction air box. Although I try to do most everything myself, but I did have to punt when it came to the air conditioning system. The rear differential was actually kind of fun to fix, I replaced two very large bearings what were starting to fail (loud humming coming from the rear of the vehicle).
I have done all the routine maintenance such as oil and air filter changes. It takes 8 quarts to fill the engine up! Most cars take just 4. Also have been changing the fuel filter on a yearly basis, important to do on a diesel. Some ongoing items that still need to be addressed are a slow leak from the real main seal. I am loosing about a quart every 4 months... so its not serious but I just have not had the desire to drop the transmission to get at the seal. I do have the parts though along with a new clutch to go in at the same time. One of those "while your in there you may as well..." type deals.
Overall, the Sorento has been a little bit heavy on the maintenance side, but the comfortable interior, Air Conditioning, and 4 wheel drive have made up for that. Thanks again to those who gave towards the vehicle, it has been a blessing to me... if not an occasional trial helping along the process of sanctification!