2021 Kia Sorento sees 3-row SUV aim big

Chris Davies - Sep 22, 2020, 1:41pm CDT
2021 Kia Sorento sees 3-row SUV aim big

There’s a new Kia SUV in town, with the 2021 Sorento promising a new turbo engine option, a more flexible interior, and more capability should you find yourself off-road. One of the automaker’s top-sellers, the Sorento sticks with its three-row seating for up to seven, but gets extra power and economy along the way.

There’ll be five trims, spanning LX, S, EX, SX, and finally SX-Prestige. Front-wheel drive will be standard, with all-wheel drive optional. Three engines will arrive first, with a plug-in hybrid following on next year.

The entry-level engine is a 2.5-liter inline-four, which delivers 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque; an eight-speed automatic transmission is standard. Optional will be a 2.5-liter turbo version, with 281 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque; that uses an 8-speed dual clutch automatic. Finally for 2020, there’s a 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo hybrid, which has 227 horsepower thanks to the addition of a 44 kW electric motor.

It only has a 5 kWh battery, and will come in FWD form only, but it’s enough for Kia to estimate 39 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway, and 37 mpg combined. The regular four-cylinder should get 27 mpg combined, Kia predicts, or 25 mpg from the four-cylinder turbo.

While you might not think about going off-road in your Sorento, there’s at least some consideration of that possibility. The 2021 Sorento X-Line SX-Prestige AWD trim, for example, now has 1-inch more ride height, at 8.3-inches, and a center locking differential, plus downhill descent control. It also gets special wheels and a bridge-type roof rack.

Come 2021, there’ll be a 1.6-liter turbo plug-in hybrid, with a 66.9 kW electric motor. It’ll get 261 horsepower, and have an 8 kWh battery, which Kia says should do around 30 miles of all-electric driving. It’ll be AWD as standard, too.

The new Sorento is based on Kia’s third-generation N3 platform, with 1.4-inches of extra wheelbase length, a lighter body, and a cut in vibration and road noise. Over the top of that is a tauter, more aggressive design, with Kia’s latest grille and daytime-running light aesthetic, a wraparound hood edge, standard LED headlamps, and a choice of six different alloy wheel designs spanning 17- to 20-inches. Signature LED front headlamps will be available.

Inside, there’s a choice of 4+2 or 5+2 seating, with optional second-row captain’s chairs. Kia will offer a variety of metal texture or open-pore wood inlays, while Sorento models with leather trim get a new quilting pattern. A 12.3-inch digital driver display is available, as is a 360-degree camera and blind-view monitor which beams side-camera video to the dashboard. Most trims have eight USB ports, while the center display is 8-inches as standard or 10.25-inches and touch-enabled as an upgrade.

It’s not the only tech improvement. The larger display also brings with it multi-connection Bluetooth – allowing two phones to be paired and connected simultaneously – and there’s SiriusXM offered, cloud-connected navigation routing that promises to learn the driver’s favored routes, voice control over various vehicle settings like HVAC and seat heating, and remote start via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant smart speakers.

A Bose Premium audio system with 12 speakers is available, as is wireless phone charging. Standards is rear occupant alerts, which use ultrasonic sensors to track movement of a forgotten child when the Sorento is locked; it joins Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, and Lane Departure Warning.

Options include blind spot collision avoidance, forced collision avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, parking sensors, navigation-based smart cruise control which automatically slows the SUV ahead of curves, Highway Driving Assist, and Safe Exit Assist. A smartphone app can optionally snap photos of the Sorento’s surroundings and show them remotely.

The 2021 Sorento is expected to go on sale later in 2020. Pricing will be confirmed closer to that point, Kia says.

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