Kia is getting really good at the whole surprise-and-delight thing. Building on the success of its extremely popular Telluride, the automaker now reveals the 2021 Sorento.
You can see some Telluride design cues in the more upright stance and signature taillights. While we don’t have all the details yet, there are a few key takeaways from today’s virtual program.
3 powertrains – to start
The 2021 Sorento is launching with two gasoline engines and a Sorento-first turbo-hybrid powertrain. The two gas engines will be 2.5-liter 4-cylinders, but the base engine will be mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and will deliver 191 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. The up-level 2.5-liter turbo engine will be mated to an 8-speed wet dual-clutch automatic transmission and will deliver 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque.
In an interesting twist, the turbo hybrid doesn’t start with the same gas engine. It gets its own 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder turbo and is paired with a 44 kW electric motor. Total system output will be 227 horsepower, and Kia estimates a combined fuel economy of 37 MPG and 655 miles of driving range.
Both gasoline engines will be available on front- and all-wheel-drive models, whereas the hybrid powertrain only comes in front-wheel drive.
PHEV is coming
One of the cooler tidbits dropped during the reveal is that the Sorento will also be getting a plug-in hybrid version. It’s not available at launch, but it will be coming sometime in 2021. So, we’re not sure if that will make it a 2021 or 2022 model.
This will use the same 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder engine we’ll see in the hybrid, but it adds a 66.9 kW electric motor. It will deliver an attractive 261 horsepower and have about 30 miles of all-electric range.
Go off-road packaging
Kia is also adding an X-Line variant to the 2021 Sorento, which “begs to be covered in mud.” During the virtual reveal, the presenters simply called it the X-Line model, but the press materials indicate it will be a more of a package item than an actual trim, as the release states “the hero model will be the X-Line SX-Prestige AWD.”
This specific model will include standard AWD, hill descent control, center locking differential, an 8.3-inch ride height (which is 1 inch more than the regular ride height), exclusive exterior details, 20-inch alloy wheels and a beefier roof rack.
The entire trim lineup will include the LX, S, EX, SX and SX-Prestige – all of which will be available in both front- and all-wheel drive.
While it’s not entirely clear exactly which technology will be standard, there is a whole list of cool available features – some of which we’ve already seen in other Kia vehicles.
During the live reveal, the presenters pointed out the dash will include some of the largest screens Kia has offered in its vehicles, including a 12.3-inch info cluster behind the wheel and a 10.25-inch touchscreen on the center stack. Something else that will be familiar: the blind-view monitor, which will pop an actual video of your blind spots into the behind-the-wheel cluster when you activate your turn signal.
Other available features include a surround-view backup monitor, eight USB charging ports (including two in the third row!), SiriusXM satellite radio, a premium Bose audio system with 12 speakers and wireless phone charging.
Standard safety, and then some
In this vehicle that has strong potential to be a family mover, Kia doubles down on its commitment to safety, and it makes even more high-level safety features standard on every model. This includes forward collision avoidance, lane keep assist and lane departure warning. Another key standard safety feature: Kia’s ultrasonic sensor, which can sense if there’s movement in the second or third rows after the vehicle has been locked, then notify the surrounding area by sounding the horn.
Additional features available on the 2021 Sorento include the aforementioned blind-view monitor, blind-spot collision avoidance, rear-cross traffic alert, automatic reverse braking, highway driving assist and safe exit assist.
The bottom line on the 2021 Sorento
This appears to be another super cool entry from Kia, but the proof will be in the pudding when we actually get to take it for a test drive. The powertrains look phenomenal, and the interior accents (see photo gallery below) look up-level.
Kia hasn’t released any pricing just yet, but it’s worth noting the base 2020 Sorento L starts at $28,110, including the $1,120 destination fee, and the LX trim (one level up off the current base) starts at $29,210. So, it’s a safe bet the 2021 Sorento will start less than $30K – but probably not by much.
When will we see this at the dealer? Kia hasn’t given us an exact drop date, but it is saying Q4, which could be as early as next month or as late as New Years Eve.
We’ll share more details when we have them, so stay tuned.