Kia Motors America has launched the American market version of the next generation 2021 Kia Sorento, and it’s a huge upgrade on the previous Sorento. The new Sorento not only features fresh, more rugged styling inside and out, but it’s also available for the first time ever in both Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid variants. There’s also a new X-Line package with off-road inspired styling and some added capability as well.
The fourth generation Sorento will continue to be built at Kia’s West Point, Georgia factory, alongside the Telluride and K5. This popular crossover has been a mainstay of the Kia lineup since it first went on sale in 2002, and the all-new 2021 model offers countless upgrades over the outgoing model which will attract more buyers into the Kia fold when it goes on sale in the next few weeks to months of 2020.
The new Kia Sorento is built on the same N3 platform that underpins the new K5, but the wheelbase has been stretched significantly to allow for more interior volume than the previous Sorento.
The exterior of the new Sorento features bold, upright styling that’s sophisticated and well-defined, although it appears more restrained than some of its competitors. The prominent tiger nose grille is much more aggressive than before, and the headlights are better integrated into the front fascia with daytime running lights that extend to the bottom of the grille. The profile of the car features a simple shape, but includes a notable sloping window line with a unique brightwork feature at the base of the C pillar that defines the side view of the car. Despite the sloping window line, the rear of the car is also squared off, with distinctive dual vertical tail lights, a sculpted rear hatch with the Sorento name spelled out similarly to the Telluride, and a sophisticated rear diffuser with fake side vents that add a little bit of sport to the crossover. The rear wiper is also hidden beneath the rear spoiler for a clean look on the rear of the Sorento.
The Sorento receives exterior LED lighting standard and offers six different alloy wheel designs, including 20” wheels for well-equipped models.
Stepping inside, the new Sorento has never been more appealing. Kia’s designers focused on the details here, with intriguing textures baked into each trim piece on the interior. For example, there’s a choice between metal texture inlays and open-pore wood for the dashboard, which continues onto the door panels. The air vents are unique, visually appealing squared-off units that feature upper and lower sections for greater control of air circulation in the car and are well-integrated into the dashboard. The optional leather seating offers an embossed quilt that looks high end but rugged, and a similar texture continues onto the soft-touch door panels. All brightwork on the interior is an attractive satin material.
Infotainment comes courtesy of an optional 10.25” touchscreen with haptic feedback buttons and a multi-connection Bluetooth that can connect to two different devices at the same time. A 12-speaker Bose sound system is available with Bose Centerpoint and Dynamic Speed Compensation to offer the best sound at all times. Kia boasts an upgraded UVO system on the new Sorento which can share images from the vehicles 360 Camera to your UVO smartphone app when you’re away from the car and offers walking directions to your destination if you need to park within one mile of your desired location. The Sorento also features wireless phone charging and 8 USB charging ports throughout the vehicle. Automatic tri-zone climate control is also offered, and front heated and ventilated seats are available with switches similarly placed to those in the Telluride.
In the back, the new Kia Sorento is offered with either a bench seat (7 passenger) or new captain’s chairs (6 seat) as a new feature for the Sorento that should add some appeal to the package. Increased legroom all around benefits all passengers in the second and third rows.
From a driver’s perspective, the new Sorento has a 12.3” digital gauge cluster which is sure to make some Telluride owners jealous since that’s a feature that isn’t available in the more expensive Telluride. You can also take advantage of the Sorento’s 360 degree camera and blind spot cameras for added confidence during your drive. Also, since weight is decreased by over 100 pounds over the outgoing Sorento and tensile strength of the car’s chassis is up 4%, drivers will notice better ride and handling in the next generation Sorento.
Power is also up, and there are more powertrain options than ever before, including the first ever Sorento Hybrid and Sorento Plug-In Hybrid models.
The base motor is a naturally aspirated 2.5L four cylinder engine that makes 191 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque. It’s available in FWD or AWD with torque-vectoring and center-locking diff, and puts power to the wheels courtesy of an 8-speed traditional automatic transmission. That engine should see a 27mpg combined fuel efficiency and can tow up to 2,500 pounds.
For those who need more power, you can also opt for a turbocharged version of the same engine, which ups the power to an impressive 281 horsepower and 311 lb-ft torque with a combined gas mileage of 25mpg, and is also available in both FWD and AWD. 2021 Sorentos equipped with this engine come with an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission and can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
2021 Sorento Line Up Hybrid, SX, X-Line
If you opt for the 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid, which will be coming later on in the model year, you’ll receive a different powertrain entirely: a 1.6L turbocharged 4 cylinder that links up to a 44 kW electric motor and a 6-speed automatic for a combined 227 horsepower. Kia hasn’t released torque numbers for this variant yet. The Hybrid model is only available in FWD and sees an estimated 37mpg.
The Sorento Plug-in Hybrid is unavailable at launch, but will be coming soon and features that same 1.6L engine and 6-speed transmission, but this time is connected to a 66.9 kW electric motor and a 13.8 kWh battery to provide up to 30 miles of all-electric range with 261hp. The Sorento Plug-in Hybrid will only be available with AWD.
The Sorento Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid models offer a good compromise between the commanding experience of the Telluride and the efficiency of a smaller vehicle, and the Plug-in Hybrid with its substantial all-electric range gives eco-conscious buyers a compelling reason to choose a crossover if the lack of efficiency was the reason they stayed away from utility vehicles in the past.
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For the all-new 2021 Kia Sorento, there is also a special X-Line package which offers a 1” lift for the entire car to give you more ground clearance and improved approach and departure angles. It also upgrades the AWD system to be more capable, including snow mode and hill descent control, and offers a bridge-style roof rack for added utility. It also features exclusive front and rear bumpers, additional exterior features, and unique 20” wheels. The X-Line is only available on the top-of-the-line SX with Prestige Package and AWD. Other trim levels include the LX, S, and EX.
The new Sorento is of course equipped with all the latest safety and autonomous technology, including active collision avoidance in many scenarios, smart cruise control with stop and go, lane centering, and speed limit following (which can be turned off), and a wide array of other safety features, such as Safe Exit Assist and Power Child Locks that can prevent disasters from occurring without you having to give it a second thought.
Pricing has not yet been announced for the new 2021 Kia Sorento, but we expect base models to be only modestly higher than current Sorento pricing, while high-end models like the X-Line and Plug-in Hybrid will most likely rise to levels we haven’t seen before on the Sorento.