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2011 Kia Sorento (Kia)
2011 Kia Sorento (Kia)

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Nine days. Nine days! That's the "turn rate" for the redesigned 2011 Kia Sorento SUV (sport-utility vehicle), according to the Power Information Network (PIN).

If you're in the new-car game, a nine-day turn rate is lightning fast, a blink of the eye. It means vehicles are sitting on the lot for only nine days before being snapped away by buyers.

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Now any vehicle with a 40-day turn rate is a strong seller. A 30-day rate screams "hot," a 20-day turn rate is red hot and anything under 20 days is sizzling. Under 10 days and dealers are in a sweat trying to meet demand.

Globe Drive's senior writes explains the auto industry, and what it means to you

Honestly, when I had my first look at the Sorento, it seemed to have all the makings of a disaster. So far, it's been anything but. The Sorento seems to have found a sweet spot in the marketplace.

Sure, sure, the Sorento is being moved with up to $3,500 in sales sweeteners, not to mention a dealer discount for the hard-bargaining buyer. But there's more to the story here.

The latest from Consumer Reports (CR), the bible of left brain car shoppers who put a premium on the rational and analytical, says the Sorento with the V-6 engine posted an "Excellent" overall score. It came out on top of a test of four small and mid-sized SUVs with a score of 82, beating two versions of the Santa Fe - V-6 (Excellent at 80), and four-cylinder (Very Good at 73). Nice for Kia to get this CR stamp of approval.

But keep in mind that the Sorento is not yet "recommended" by CR; it's too new for CR to make a judgment about reliability. But there's no denying that Kia has managed to remake the Sorento into a solid performer, with looks that seem to appeal to a fairly young buyer (48 years old on average).

And the Sorento competes where Canadians are busy buyers. Four of the top 10 best-selling light trucks in Canada are small or mid-size SUVs: Ford Escape (No. 6), Honda CR-V (No. 7), Hyundai Santa Fe (No. 8) and Toyota RAV4 (No. 9). All except the CR-V are literally flying off dealer lots based on PIN data.

Of the Sorento's competitors, the latest PIN data says the Escape is the most heavily discounted. According to the pricing service carcostcanada.com, Ford Canada is offering up to $7,500 in sweeteners, plus a dealer discount for the right buyer who pushes hard.

The Escape is a solid enough little truck, but it's fairly aged compared to the hot-selling SUVs below. Remember, Ford gave the Escape an update in 2008/2009 and has been pretty much standing pat since. Meanwhile, the Dodge Journey was introduced in 2009, the Santa Fe was given a facelift for 2010, the Chevrolet Equinox is all-new for 2010 and the Mitsubishi Outlander has just been refreshed this year.

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All of these are family vehicles. Most of today's buyers would likely have opted for a minivan 10 years ago - and a station wagon with faux wood panelling 20-25 years ago. As auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers points out, "this segment has grown rapidly over the last decade moving from only 3.4 per cent of sales (52,000) in 2000 to 21.4 per cent (350,000) 2009."

Since this is a hugely popular place for Canadians to shop, we thought it made sense to take a closer look. We've divided up the Sorento and its key rivals into three groups: "Sizzling Hot" movers, simply "Hot" ones and "Glowing Red." Our groupings are based in PIN turn rate data. We also went digging for details on whatever incentives are at play, based on data from carcostcanada.com and other sources.

Keep in mind that most of the sales sweeteners here are factory-to-dealer incentives; if you want them, you'll need to negotiate for them. And car companies always retain the right to withdraw incentives at a whim.

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