Every so often, in early spring time, Mother Nature likes to remind us that she is still in charge.

Throwing rain, sleet, snow, hail and high winds at drivers, these hazardous weather conditions can be dangerous for any driver. That’s where the 2013 Kia Sorento comes in.

The largest of the Kia family, the Sorento crossover comes standard with seating for five, but you have the option to have seating for seven, making this a very versatile vehicle.

Teamed with available all-wheel drive, the Sorento is a very powerful teammate to have in your corner when battling Mother Nature.

The starting price of the Sorento is $26,895, before tax. That's a very competitve base point if you’re in the market for a five-passenger full-size crossover. The price can go up to $41,295.

The model I had was the range-topping Sorento SX with seven-passenger seating and all-wheel drive, as well as the top-of-the-line 276 hp 3.5-litre V6 engine.

With that engine, the Sorento is confident on both the back roads and on the highway. Mileage-wise, Kia says the Sorento can do 11.5L/100 km in the city, and 8.2L/100 km on the highway.

During my testing, I was able to manage 11.7L/100 km in the city.  On the highway, with it equipped with snowtires and keeping up with Highway 401 traffic, I was able to get 10.3L/100 km. Which, admittedly, for a full-size crossover is really impressive.

Safety features abound in the Sorento. Kia wants to make sure that you, and your passengers, are safe. That’s why it not only comes standard with six airbags, ABS, traction control, and electronic stability control, but also rollover prevention and downhill brake control – in all the models. These are features that are most often found in higher trim levels of the Sorento’s competitors.

And speaking of equipment, Kia did not skimp on the options. My tester came with only a few extra features in comparison to what you can get on the base model. A power sunroof, push button start, leather seats, navigation system and a heated steering wheel are a few of the additional features that they put into the SX model. 

Everything else, from the Bluetooth connectivity, to the heated front seats and the heated windshield wipers are standard options on all trim levels of the Sorento. There are just too many to list.

Getting into and driving the Sorento for the first time was a bit of an adjustment. Being used to driving sedans and hatchbacks, this was the first crossover that I had an opportunity to drive for a long period of time.

Visibility is great, but it would have been nice to have blind-side mirrors. But once I got used to how much higher I was, I was able to watch out for the smaller cars, without any problem.

And speaking of driving, I could have sworn that I was almost driving a luxury car with how the Sorento handles. This is definitely not an SUV that people might think it is. Even over the roughest roads in Toronto – which happen to be in Scarborough – it felt like the city had recently repaved the streets.

And the Sorento's turning radius is surprisingly tight – so if you ever find yourself having to turn around because you may have forgotten something, the Sorento will respond in kind and you won’t end up looking a buffoon doing a 12-point turn.

The Sorento is definitely more suited to the suburbs than it is a city vehicle. With its filled-out footpring and high height, I was feeling a bit claustrophobic while driving it through the city. But that’s not to say it can’t handle the urban jungle. 

It can, but you should make sure you know where you’re going and how you’re going to park.  I’d suggest parking it in a parking lot, rather than trying to find a spot to parallel park in.  With the available backup camera, it was easier to park than other vehicles its size, but it’s not something you’d want to try and tackle on a sunny Saturday with the main access to the city closed for repairs.

The Sorento’s acceleration is surprisingly quick. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard on the Sorento, no matter which engine you chose. The transmission can be switched into manual mode, which gives you the feeling of driving a standard transmission car, without the worry of a clutch.

The transmission reacts to every input, either in the manual mode or the full automatic mode. You'll never be finding yourself frustrated at slow acceleration up a hill.

Handling-wise, you’ll rarely find yourself in trouble. My tester came equipped with all-wheel drive, but unless the system detects that you’re in trouble, the Sorento is normally front-wheel drive. And you rarely need to use the all-wheel drive system.

With early spring weather, I was able to drive with confidence, knowing full well that should I need the all-wheel drive, it was there for me. But you’re also able to activate the system to send power to all four wheels, with a simple push of a button on the dash.

And speaking of buttons, there were a plethora of them.

I was half expecting to find controls to launch a nuclear missile, with all the buttons I had.  Oddly, the rear-windshield wiper controls weren’t on the steering wheel, like they are on other hatchbacks. Instead it was a button on the dash. Which was a good thing and a bad thing.

Good because it kept the steering wheel clear, but bad because you sometimes have to take your eyes off the road for a little too long to make sure that you hit the wiper button in the rain and not the wiper spray button.

But all the controls were within easy reach. The touch screen navigation that my tester had responded to each command, and quickly adjusted its route when I decided to not go in the direction it told me.

Seating is actually pretty good too, which you’d expect from a seven-passenger crossover. Lots of space for the front passengers, and the middle seats can still fit an adult over 6 feet tall comfortably. The rear seat, however, is another story.

Getting access to the rear seat was almost a trick-and-a-half. You almost had to remove the right-side middle row seat just to get in to the back.  It was definitely not something a child would be able to do themselves.

The third row seating is really only intended for kids. It's not a comfortable place for adults, unless you’re going an extremely short distance over no speed bumps. And with the rear seats up, your cargo capacity is reduced to enough space for a couple of school bags.

But speaking of cargo capacity, the Sorento can handle almost anything you throw into it. Either when you go antiquing or hitting the local home improvement store, the Sorento is very versatile. You wouldn’t be able to fit any 4x8 drywall sheets into the back, but with the money you’d save with having a Sorento, you’d be able to get the much more expensive 3x5 cement board without a problem, or if you were looking to renovate the basement, the Sorento could carry the subflooring materials without a problem. The possibilities are endless.

With every manufacturer producing a full-size crossover, Kia has made sure that its Sorento will entice both the entry-level buyer and the SUV connoisseur. From its aggressive look to its crowd-pleasing features, the Sorento has something for everyone.

Fast Facts:

2013 Kia Sorento SX
Type: Full Size Cross-Over
Price Range: $26,895 – $41,265
Engine: 2.4-litre 4-cylinder engine or  3.5-litre V6 engine
Horsepower: 191 hp or 276 hp
Transmission: 6-speed Automatic
Drive: Front-wheel drive/All-wheel drive
Competitors: GMC Acadia, Cheverolet Traverse, Mazda CX-9, Hyundai Santa-Fe XL, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, Buick Enclave, Dodge Journey, Acura MDX, Audi Q7, Ford Explorer, Infiniti JX35, Mitsubishi Outlander, Subaru Tribeca, Volvo XC90