Kia introduces new design, tech and hybrid options for 2021 Sorento
Kia has unveiled the 2021 Sorento crossover-SUV with four distinct powertrain options and five trim levels. The new lineup includes a turbocharged hybrid and an upcoming plug-in hybrid, with all 2021 Sorento models to include advanced safety and driver assistance features.
The redesign of the Sorento starts with the overall shape, which is more SUV than in the past. The updated front grille and body lines are definitely influenced by its larger sibling, the Telluride, but the extra angular elements in the rear pillar, lighting, and intake edges are unique and add sportiness to offset the square shape of the crossover. The more aggressive grille and stronger appearance of the Sorento can be accentuated or mitigated with trim level choice, as each trim level has unique features to emphasize its role in the lineup.
The aggressive X-Line trim level, for example, adds an inch of ground clearance, more aggressive front and rear bumpers for improved approach and departure angles, a robust roof rack, and added all-wheel drive controls for an aggressive, adventure appeal. Counter to this, the SX-Prestige model adds softening notes and technology-influenced details that emphasize its premium nature and high-end technology within.
The new Sorento lineup features four powertrain choices. Three of them will be available closer to the 2021 Sorento’s launch in the fourth quarter of 2020, while the plug-in hybrid will come early in 2021.
The base engine will be the well-vetted 2.5-liter gasoline-direct injection (GDI) that’s been in the Kia lineup for some time. This will mate to an eight-speed automatic and produce 191 hp (142 kW) in front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive to be offered as an option. Fuel economy is estimated at up to 27 mpg (8.7 L/100km) combined.
The same engine can be had turbocharged as well, adding about 90 horses for 281 hp (209.5 kW). This engine will be mated to an eight-speed wet dual clutch automatic with FWD, and AWD as an option. Fuel economy is estimated to be 25 mpg (9.4 L/100km) combined.
A smaller 1.6-liter four-cylinder GDI with turbocharging will be mated to a 44-kW electric motor, a 5-kWh battery, and six-speed automatic transmission. This system will combine for 227 hp (169 kW). Front-wheel drive will be the only option for the hybrid model, but fuel economy is estimated to be 37 mpg (6.3 L/100km) combined.
Coming in early 2021 will be a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) option, which uses the same 1.6-L turbo engine, a larger 66.9-kW motor, an 8-kWh battery, and six-speed automatic transmission. The system will output 261 hp (194.6 kW) in all and will default to all-wheel drive. Kia has not yet released estimated MPGe for the Sorento PHEV, but does estimate its all-electric range to be about 30 miles (48 km).
On the inside, some room has been gained thanks to a 1.4-inch (3.5-cm) lengthening of the wheelbase, which adds mainly rear seat and cargo space to the crossover.
The 2021 Kia Sorento will be the first Kia crossover-SUV to offer a new 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. It will also feature blind-view monitors to show adjacent lanes when turn signals are activated, a feature that debuted in the Telluride. There are up to eight USB ports (default is six) and either an 8- or 10.25-in high-resolution touchscreen for infotainment. The larger touchscreen adds haptic feedback, multi-connection Bluetooth connectivity, and the latest Kia Uvo infotainment interface, which now includes Connected Routing for cloud-based navigation with real-time maps and information, including weather and traffic.
The new Uvo voice-assist feature adds the ability to control common in-cabin features like climate, seat heating, and audio system functions, while User Profiles allow everything to be personalized to the driver or passenger with connectivity to the Kia Access App on mobile devices. These settings can be carried to other enabled Kia vehicles for a more seamless switch between vehicles. Finally, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant can be enabled to allow similar remote control of features such as climate and remote start via in-home devices.
New features in the Kia Access App include Find My Car, which sends photos from the vehicle’s surround-view (360-degree) cameras to the user’s phone, and Last Mile Navigation, which can port navigation information from the Sorento to the user’s enabled phone to continue the directions from the vehicle to on foot.
Most modern safety systems such as rear seat reminder, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection and emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control are included with the 2021 Sorento. New options include a rear cross-traffic system that uses corner radar to detect oncoming vehicles from either side while exiting a parallel parking space.
Kia has not released pricing details for the 2021 Sorento, but promises they will be announced nearer to launch in the fourth quarter of 2020.