We’ve seen the all-new, fourth-generation 2021Kia Sorentobefore, asKiaunveiled it onlineearlier in 2020, but this is our first glimpse at the American-spec model and with that glimpse comes a full set of details. Included is a longer list of technology features, more all-terrain capability, and an availableplug-in hybridpowertrain.
While the American market version looks a lot like the variant that will be sold in global markets, the range will include an outdoorsy equipment package named X-Line, offered as the AWD version of SX Prestige model, which adds an inch of ground clearance, specific 20-inch alloy wheels, a bridge-type roof rack, and a handful of rugged-looking exterior accents. It also brings a center locking differential and electronic hill descent control. While it won’t be giving aJeep Grand Cherokeefits, it sounds like it will be more capable over rough terrain than your average familycrossover.
Besides the X-Line’s extra ground clearance (a decent 8.3 inches), every 2021Sorentogains 1.4 inches of wheelbase. Total length remains the same, though, and third-row legroom has actually gone down by2inches. As such, the Sorento maintains its unusual in-betweener position: it’s bigger and has more seats than aHonda CR-VorToyota RAV4, but it isn’t as spacious or cumbersome as bigger three-row crossovers. This positioning makes even more sense now that Kia sellsthe Telluride.
The 2021 Sorento comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen and six USB charging ports. Buyers willing and able to move up the trim hierarchy and tick a few boxes on the list of options unlock a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 360-degree camera, eight USB ports, a 10.25-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system, cloud-based navigation, plus multi-connection Bluetooth technology that lets the passengers simultaneously connect two phones. Owners can also use an Amazon Alexa- or Google Assistant-enabled smart speaker to remotely start the engine, among other functions.
The 2021 Sorento range will ultimately include four powertrains. Entry-level models come with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 191 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. The upgrade engine option is now a turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter making 281 horsepower and a stout 311 pound-feet of torque. The old Sorento’s V6 is no more. Front-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission come standard on both, and all-wheel drive is offered at an extra cost.
The big powertrain news, however, is the addition of twohybridmodels that make the Sorento one of the rare midsize SUVs to offer such a choice. The standard hybrid system teams a turbocharged, 1.6-liter four-cylinder with a 44-kilowatt electric motor fed by a 1.5-kilowatt-hour battery. It sends 227 horsepower to the front wheels (all-wheel drive is not available) via a six-speed automatic transmission, and it helps the Sorento return an estimated 39 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway, and 37 mpg combined. That betters the only other three-row midsize crossover that offers a hybrid powertrain, theToyota Highlander.
Finally,the plug-in hybrid systemKia will release in 2021 is built around the aforementioned 1.6-liter, but it gains a more powerful 66.9-kilowatt motor and a bigger 13.8-kilowatt-hour battery pack. It sends 261 horsepower to the four wheels via a six-speed automatic, and the firm quotes an electric-only driving range of up to 30 miles.
Some 16 electronic driving aids are available. Adaptive cruise control and forward collision avoidance assist are standard, while blind spot collision avoidance and cyclist detection are offered at an extra cost.
Built in Georgia alongsidethe bigger Tellurideandthe K5 introduced to replace the Optima, the 2021 Kia Sorento will arrive in showrooms nationwide before the end of 2020. Kia will split the lineup into five trim levels called LX, S, EX, SX, and SX-Prestige, respectively. Pricing information will be released in the weeks leading up to its on-sale date. For context, the 2020 model starts at $26,990, and that figure shouldn’t increase dramatically.