Kia’s midsize SUV get a major refresh for 2021 with a bold new design both inside and out. The previous generation was showing its age so this new model comes at the right time, especially when demand for SUVs and crossover among consumers is sky-high.
Let’s begin with the exterior because it’s really was will lure buyers into showrooms. The designers have done an excellent job in my opinion and this is one gorgeous-looking truck. In the front we have a modernized “tiger nose”, with new “eyeline” daytime running light details and a wide grille extending into the headlight and hood structure. Standard LED headlamps and optional signature LED forward lighting provide a neat look.
The side profile fairly normal and the Sorento comes with six different alloy wheel designs, from 17-inches to 20-inches, which is the largest ever for the vehicle. The rear taillights remind me of the new Mustang Mach-E and with the amount of looks I got in my week with the car I’m sure a lot of folks thought the same.
The plush interior of the Sorento SX is highlighted by comfortable heated and cooled leather seats, heads-up display, and an amazing Bose audio system. The infotainment system is shown on a 10.25-inch touchscreen nestled into the dash above the climate controls. The layout is functional and sound except for the volume button which is too far away. Kia’s infotainment system also doesn’t make the best use of available space on the screen and can be confusing at times.
That being said, the 12.3-inch full digital instrument cluster is a wonder and the brand’s first such device in an SUV. The Blind View Monitor projects live video view of adjacent lanes in the instrument cluster and activated via the turn signal. It’s really handy for alerting the driver of objects in the blind spot or oncoming bikes & pedestrian traffic before a turn.
I really liked the cabin and Kia’s attention to detail is on display with the bright satin finishes, metal texture inlays the leather embossed quilt pattern on the seats and the eye-catching vertical center air vents. The center row captain’s chairs will be a hit with the family and the third row is easily accessible for a total of six seats.
The platform is all-new for 2021 and is lighter, stronger and more flexible than previous models. The wheelbase was stretched by 1.4 inches, 119 pounds in weight savings was obtained, tensile strength was improved and the Sorento now has the versatility to accommodate alternate drivetrains like hybrids though those aren’t available in Canada.
The choice of powerplants is between two 2.5-litre units – one turbocharged and one naturally aspirated. The latter makes 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque but the more potent turbo is what you want to aim for and it makes 281 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. Both are mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters. I found the Sorento turbo to be very peppy and the steering feedback keeps the drive-in tune with the road. Feedback can be increased with the selection of Sport mode. The smoothness of the ride is incredible thanks to the re-tuned suspension and new platform. The larger wheels didn’t even reduce the ride quality as is common.
All Sorentos come with all-wheel drive in Canada which is naturally a must-have. 95% of the power is sent to the front wheels under normal driving conditions for optimal performance. When the need arises to send more power to the rear wheels as well, the setup calculates throttle position, speed and steering angle to send just the right amount. This reduces the possibility of unwanted spin and improves stability. If you hit Sport mode, then the normal driving conditions are 65/35 with 65% of power going to the front.
The new Sorento is better in every way than its predecessor and will compete with any of the other players in its segment. Quality is excellent, it’s roomy, a blast to drive and looks great. The well-equipped entry-level LX+ will run you only $33,995. The LX Premium is $36,495, the X-Line costs $39,495 and the top-of-the-line SX seen here tops out at $47,495.