See the new Kia Sorento
Kia shows the world the next-generation Sorento SUV
Kia's flagship mid-size SUV, the Sorento is due here in June. Here's everything you need to know about the car that's been with us since 2002!
What's new on the 2021 Kia Sorento?
Pretty much everything is new on the mid-size SUV. Here's a run-through of the most notable stuff.
- Sharp new looks. Three Kia design studios worked on the design of the Sorento, giving it a truly global appeal. Stylists from Korea, Europe and the US were inspired by the notion of "refined boldness". In practice, that results in a very stout, crisp-looking exterior, with hard lines and creases. It's noticeably less soft around the edges than before. The signature "Tiger Nose" grille is present, though it's now wider and seamlessly transitions into the "Tiger Eye" headlights. The stylists' efforts, in our opinion, have created a snazzy SUV. Kia also now proudly emblazons the Sorento name across the rear boot lid, while the rear spoiler cleans up the visuals by neatly housing the window wiper.
- It's bigger. I've definitely gotten larger as I've aged, and so has the Sorento. It's 10mm wider than before and 10mm longer. However, the company has shortened it up in important places, like the front and rear overhangs. You are less likely to ground the thing on really steep hills or ramps. Conversely, the distance between the front and rear wheels has grown by 35mm. That should help it feel even more stable at higher speeds as well as give occupants more room. It's also 10mm taller.
- It's been re-done on the inside. The passenger cabin, according to Kia, is one of their highest quality interiors to date. Everything is built around large digital displays. The driver has a 12.3-inch instrument display, while next to it sits a 10.25-inch infotainment screen. Kia's gone all futuristic on us, fitting haptic feedback buttons on either side of the screen and for the climate controls. Buyers also receive a Mood Lighting system to set that perfect ambience for driving, or a "lounge-like" atmosphere as Kia puts it. Apparently, that also increases the sense of space. You can charge your phone wirelessly on a centre console pad and audio is delivered by a surround-sound system from the renowned speaker specialists, Bose. The sound system even comes pre-loaded with sounds of nature for peaceful and relaxing journeys. Depending on the grade, you can back up these high-end fitments with premium quality materials, such as leather upholstering and pressed satin trim pieces. Some of the more pricey Sorentos will feature embossed black cloth, leather-appointed cloth and even quilted nappa leather.
- Practicality. On seven-seaters, Kia claims it has a near best-in-class boot of 821 litres with the seats up, which is reportedly larger than before by almost a third. Five-seater models have a cavernous 910 litres of luggage space. Technicians have managed to squeeze 45mm extra from the middle row seat rails, making entering and exiting the back row much less difficult. You're not an afterthought when sat right at the stern, as you have 100mm more elbow room, cup holders and even a smartphone tray! Oh, and USB chargers for everyone.
- Hybrid option. Thanks to the repackaging of the platform and bodywork, there's now room to include hybrid technology. They won't be on sale at the time of launch, but at some point, a hybrid and plug-in hybrid Sorento will go on sale. In the hybrid, Kia opted to use a small turbocharged 1.6-litre, combined with a 44.2kW electric motor and a 1.49kWh battery. Up to 3% fuel efficiency gains can be expected as well as performance improvements of 2-3%. Look out for those in late 2020.
- Diesel engine. There's a lot of talk about combustion-engined vehicles right now, but car buyers still purchase them and want the range and practicality they provide. It's interesting Kia is pairing the Sorento with a diesel oiler, a 2.2-litre turbo block, which is good for 148kW and a decent 440Nm. That should make the Sorento a good towing vehicle. The engine has gone on a diet, by swapping its iron heart for an aluminium one – almost 20kgs were saved! You also get an eight-speed, double-clutch transmission. This thing should be silky smooth to drive.
- Better to drive. All those geometric changes we spoke of above have helped make the SUV more nimble and grounded. The Sorento runs on the "N3" architecture. In developing this new platform, Kia explains its engineers wanted to further isolate the body from the road. This was done by working on the suspension, making it iron out road noise and undulations as best as it possibly can. The end outcome is the Sorento should be more taut and have more responsive steering.
- Let's off-road! The Sorento now has a Terrain Mode. Though AWD is optional, you select the type of surface you're travelling over, and the Sorento will seek out as much grip and traction as it can muster.
- Safety. The Sorento is loaded with heaps of safety tech. It's got almost anything you can think of in terms of assists. Everything from surround view monitoring (SVM) to intelligent speed limit assist (ISLA) is present. It also has something called navigation-based smart cruise control. There is even some next-level autonomous driving tech present too like lane following assist, which responds to vehicles in your lane ahead. One of the coolest features is remote smart parking assist, which lets you instruct your car to exit a parking space all on its own!
Pricing and availability
Local pricing will be published nearer to the June 2020 launch. The first model going on sale is the 2.2-litre diesel, after which, a hybrid will follow suit in late 2020. Also expect a petrol-powered Sorento, again in Q4 of 2020.
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