From the first-generation Sorento unveiled back in 2002 to the current fourth-generation Sorento, the model evolved as an iconic mid-size 4 of Kia. The new platform and the model’s ‘refined boldness’ underscore the innovative changes that Sorento has gone through. Senior Designer Seo JeWon, who designed Sorento, now talks about his project with the history of Sorento.
The design elements of Sorento evolved with its key features – boldness, intensity, and sheer existence.
Q . What are the unique design characteristics of each generation?
The first-generation Sorento would be a very traditional SUV for its body-on-frame design. The design makes a short wheelbase, long overhangs, therefore a tall, firm-looking body. Speaking of the second-generation Sorento – the first monocoque-based Sorento -, the longer wheelbase and lower body made it look closer to the golden ratio. Its urban, sleek design gained extra space and convenience. The third-generation model got much softer, with a voluptuous body and elegant looks.
Now, the new platform – the fourth-generation Sorento – represents a similar leap forward, engineered to maximize driving stability in all environments. Sorento is becoming more robust, bolder, and stronger.
The front of the Sorento evolves with a new interpretation of Kia’s hallmark ‘tiger-nose’ grille, displaying the iconic strong looks.
Q . How did Sorento’s ‘tiger-nose’ grille evolve?
The front of the Sorento evolves with a new interpretation of Kia’s hallmark ‘tiger-nose’ grille which the second-generation model first had, displaying a wider shape that organically wraps around the integrated headlamps on each side. The headlamps themselves feature a new ‘tiger eyeliner’ LED daytime running light(DRL), adding extra focus to the design by depicting the intense impression of the lines around a tiger’s eyes.
This sharper, more assertive appearance is complemented by a wide, rectangular lower air intake, bookended by wing-shaped air curtains to channel air around the car. A sharp bumper lip is also capped with a skid plate, enhancing its robust appearance. The new model is wider than the third-generation Sorento.
Ever recognizable as a Sorento, it retains the characteristic wide D-pillar, substantial bodywork and clad wheel arches that have defined all three generations to-date.
Q . Which design element of earlier generations of Sorento did you try to retain?
Ever recognizable as a Sorento, it retains the characteristic wide D-pillar, substantial bodywork and clad wheel arches that have defined all three generations to-date. It also sculpted body surfaces with sharp creases, giving it more sophisticated, chic looks.
The concept of ‘refined boldness’ inspired Kia’s designers.
Q . What is ‘Refined Boldness’, the identity of exterior design elements?
The concept of ‘refined boldness’ inspired Kia’s designers, who sought to maintain the robust, tough-looking aesthetic of earlier generations of Sorento, while applying a greater degree of refinement and elegance, and even a sense of sportiness. Its bodywork incorporates sharp lines and creases – noticeably more sculpted than its more round-edged predecessor. With more contemporary geometric details and more swept-back, elongated proportions, the result is a more confident, more mature and more desirable design than ever.
The trailing edge of the hood wraps around the front wings and turns into a single, strong character line that extends along the side of the Sorento and into the rear lamps.
Q . What does the character line represent?
In profile, the proportions of the Sorento are subtly adapted to make it appear longer. The additional length is found in the wheelbase, and this subtly adapts the visual character of the Sorento, making it look longer and faster. The trailing edge of the hood wraps around the front wings and turns into a single, strong character line that extends along the side of the Sorento and into the rear lamps. New cascading grille blends into the voluminous island hood to redefine Sorento’s voluminous proportions with a longer body.
The new Sorento provides superior space for people and cargo through more intelligent packaging.
Q . Did the new platform play a huge part as you design the exterior?
The new Sorento provides superior space for people and cargo through more intelligent packaging. The result is one of the most versatile and spacious cars in its class. The new platform is based around a compact engine bay structure and shorter front and rear overhangs, with a longer wheelbase creating greater cabin space between the axles. Not only does this enable the new model’s stylish design and a bigger cabin; the structure and layout of the new platform mean the Sorento is able to be more powerful and safer.
Q . It looks both bold and slender, depending on the viewing angle.
We poured our hearts out to that looks. We wanted to make it look strong and firm at the front, but slender and sleek from the side. The side character line did all the magic. Traditional SUVs have a strong-looking, box-like back for its horizontal character lines. The character line of Sorento, however, looks arch-like, just like that of sedans. This makes the overall look sleek, despite the angles all over the body.
Vertical tail lamps make the vehicle appear wider and more imposing on the road.
Q . How would you describe the rear design elements, especially the tail lamps?
Inspired by the Telluride, the Sorento adopts new vertical tail lamps that wrap around the side of the body. Sharper lines in the bodywork echo the straight, technical appearance of the front of the car, with horizontal shapes used to make the vehicle appear wider and more imposing on the road. Trim on the sporty lower rear bumper embodies the appearance of dual tailpipes and, like the front, features a skid plate to add to its tough SUV aesthetic. The next-generation model follows other recent Kia models, with the bigger Sorento model name displayed centrally across the tailgate.
Head Researcher Seo JeWon says the design underscores the robust appearance and elegance altogether.
Q . Which design feature would be the most attractive?
I would say the unique interpretation of Kia’s hallmark ‘tiger-nose’ grille, displaying a wider shape that organically wraps around the integrated headlamps on each side. The headlamps themselves feature a new ‘tiger eyeliner’ LED daytime running light(DRL), adding extra focus to the design by depicting the intense impression of the lines around a tiger’s eyes. The tiger-nose grille is full of Crystal Flake design, which is inspired by the shape of ice flakes and gemstones.
The shark fin garnish at the C-pillar is quite a catch. And this sharper, more assertive appearance is complemented by a wide, rectangular lower air intake, bookended by wing-shaped air curtains to channel air around the car. These are usually used for sedans or sports cars, but the fourth-generation Sorento tried to achieve the A sharp bumper lip is also capped with a skid plate, enhancing its robust appearance.
Interior/Color designers Talking about Their Work
From a new platform to a new design, the fourth-generation Sorento flashes its innovative interior and colors. Senior Designer Kim YoungMoo at Kia Interior Design Team and Designer Choi YeonHee at Kia Color Team talked about the unique design characteristics of Sorento.
The concept of the fourth-generation Sorento is ‘Functional Emotions’
Q . What can you tell us about the interior concept?
The concept of the fourth-generation Sorento is ‘Functional Emotions’. One of the highest quality interior spaces found in any Kia to-date, the intuitive, tech-oriented cabin of the new Sorento is fitted with straight lines and grip handles. At the same time, it retains the spaciousness and versatility that has characterized the Sorento.
Crystal Mood Lighting system emits soft ambient downlighting, creating a lounge-like feeling.
Q . Tell us about the interior design of Sorento.
The attractive, upscale cabin introduces a sophisticated next-generation design, based around twin digital displays in the dashboard. The 12.3-inch digital driver instrument cluster is twinned with 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system at the center of the dashboard. These display information clearly within the driver’s line of sight and create an innovative wide-screen user experience. The car’s many functions can also be controlled with new haptic buttons on either side of the screen, which also features further down the dashboard for the climate control system.
The cabin of the new Sorento subtly integrates a range of other technologies, including an available Crystal Mood Lighting system. This emits soft ambient downlighting from beneath the dashboard and door trim, creating a lounge-like feeling and a greater sense of space. The focal point of the dashboard is the eye-catching vertical ventilation stack, with a chrome-effect surround that extends onto the center console below.
The fourth-generation Sorento offers split-folding second-row seats.
Q . Any special features for the passengers?
The Sorento did a fine job with practical third-row seating, and the new model makes life even easier for rear passengers. The second-row seats now slide further, creating a wider point of entry to the third row with more space for feet and legs. Once seated, the third-row armrest has also been extended for greater elbow support, while incorporating a cupholder and smartphone tray. All these made Sorento a great family SUV.
The newly-released ‘Mineral Blue’ and elegant ‘Snow White Pearl’
Q . What could you tell us about the colors, materials, and finishing materials?
The CMF design of Sorento tried to reflect various lifestyles mixed with its unique identity. Being a mid-sized SUV, Sorento has achieved trendy, urban looks with its robust aura.
The new ‘Mineral Blue’ maximizes the voluptuous body shape, highlighting its strong urban looks.
Q . Tell us about the brand-new color and the features of each paint.
‘Mineral Blue’ is the new color that the new Sorento showcases. Inspired by the deep Pacific Ocean, the color represents huge waves with sparkling minerals in them. The paint, made with Xirallic blue and white pearl pigment, would indeed maximize the voluptuous body shape, highlighting its strong urban looks.
Sorento is also available with Pearl White, Steel Gray, Aurora Black Pearl, Platinum Graphite, and Essence Brown. All these colors beautifully harmonize with the exterior, reflecting so many different lifestyles.
The haptic design of the 3D pattern decorating the cabin is quite a catch.
Q . The 3D patterns seem quite decorative.
It took much effort to highlight Sorento’s sophisticated character while retaining its strong, robust identity. the diamond grid pattern in the aluminum-look trim on the dashboard is one of the examples. The metallic trim with stripe pattern as thin as human hair also bolsters Sorento’s sophisticated cabin.