[This article was first published on www.autoevolution.com. Vehicle specifications may vary by market.]
Starting with 2002, as the global appeal for SUVs was beginning to rise, South Korean carmaker Kia decided to expand its lineup of such cars with the introduction of the Sorento midsized crossover.
The model has been in production ever since, and has become the most important SUV in Kia’s stables, leading the pack that also comprises the Stonic, Sportage and more recently the Telluride and Seltos.
In March 2020, Kia introduced the fourth generation of the Sorento, a car built on a new platform that for the first time in the range allows for the deployment of an electrified powertrain.
With a new platform, electric power in the form of a conventional hybrid, and the most advanced technologies ever seen on the line, the new Sorento promises to be a tough nut to crack in the challenging segment it is selling in.
Exterior design & features
The midsize platform underpinning the new Sorento is for the first time used by Kia. It has been chosen first because it allows the fitting of a hybrid powertrain, but also because it allows the SUV to grow in size.
The new Sorento is 10 mm wider, 10 mm longer and 10 mm taller than before, now measuring 1,900 mm by 4,810 mm by 1,695 mm. Because of the new dimensions, the proportions of the vehicle have changed as well: the A-pillar was pulled back from the front axle by 30 mm, and the C-pillar had to be reshaped.
The first impression when looking at the new model is that it now goes for more of an angular, swept back look than the roundish shape used before.
At the front, the Sorento DNA is still there, despite the several changes that have been made. They include the fitting of a reinterpreted and wider tiger nose grille, that now incorporates the headlights – they too have an eyeline formed by the LED DRLs – the lower rectangular air intakes, and a sharper bumper accentuated by a skid plate.
The rear shows for the first time in bold lettering the name Sorento – a cue taken from the Telluride, or from the ProCeed – new vertical tail lamps, and a redesigned integrated spoiler that also hides the rear windscreen wiper.
The new Sorento is available in 10 color options, and wheels ranging is size from 17 to 20 inches - the largest size is available for the first time in the lineup.
Interior design, features and passenger space
The exterior growth in size is more visible at the interior, where more gains were made in terms of the space offered for both passengers and luggage.
Like all other self-respecting SUVs, the Sorento comes in either five of seven seat configuration. The cargo capacity behind the second row is 910 liters in the case of the former to 821 liters in the case of the latter. For the larger SUV, when all the seven seats are in place, there’s an increase in capacity of some 32 percent compared to the previous model, to 187 liters.
As far as materials go, Kia is not exactly a luxury carmaker, but it also not know for cutting corners. Generally, the interior is wrapped in metallic trim and leather upholstery, but customers have the choice between black cloth, leather (grey or black single-tone, or black-and-grey two-tone), or black quilted Nappa leather.
Kia says about the new Sorento is its most high-tech car ever, and by looking at the wealth of systems available that is obviously so.
The elements that attest the most to the sophistication of the SUV are of course the screens. Kia offers the model as standard with an 8-inch system, but there is an option that mixes a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, and optionally a head-up display.
The new Sorento comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth smartphone pairing for two phones at the same time, two USB charging sockets, and a wireless smartphone charger hidden in the centre console.
The Sorento is also equipped with Kia’s UVO Connect telematics system that, among other things, displays live traffic information, weather forecasts, points of interest, and details of potential on- and off-street parking.
At launch the new Sorento is available with two powertrain options, a hybrid and a diesel. A plug-in hybrid would join the range later in 2020.
The diesel is a 2.2-liter from the Smartstream family. Paired to an eight-speed wet dual-clutch transmission, it is rated at 202 ps and 440 Nm of torque.
The star of the new Sorento is of course the hybrid. It blends the power of another Smartstream engine, this time 1.6-liter in siz, running on gasoline and linked to a six-speed automatic transmission, with that of a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and 44.2 kW electric motor. The combined hybrid system has been rated at 230 ps and 350 Nm of torque.
Making the new Sorento the most advanced Kia ever also means there’s a wealth of driver assistance technologies offered for the SUV. They are all, of course, trim-dependent, but they should make the Sorento Level 2 autonomous in some cases.
The SUV relies on computerized systems for forward collision avoidance assist (with cyclists, pedestrians and other vehicles), blind spot monitor and avoidance assist, speed limit assist, cruise control, lane following and highway driving assist.
The safety of the passengers in case of a crash is ensured by up to seven airbags, including curtain and front center. This last type of airbag is relatively new, and has been deployed on other cars of the Hyundai-Kia group, including the new Genesis G80. It is meant to help prevent secondary contact between occupants in case of a side impact.
Since its introduction in 2002, the Sorento nameplate sold over three million units. A good portion of that number, roughly 10 percent, is credited to the European market, and this is partially why this area was chosen to receive the model first. By the end of the year, all markets should get it.
For the European market, the new Sorento is assembled at the Hwasung facility in Korea, while for the U.S. it is made at the Kia West Point, Georgia plant.
[Source article: www.autoevolution.com/cars/2021-kia-sorento-review]