If you haven’t searched “Kia dealer” yet, you should. The 2021 Kia Sorento is ready and set to make its debut at the Geneva Auto Show, and you will want to be one of the first to see this midsize SUV when it arrives on dealer’s lots later this year. The reason for the excitement is due to the new design for the 2021 model year. Keeping with Kia’s brand overhaul—positioning itself as an affordable luxury brand—the Sorento has many of the same traits as the newly designed and highly successful Telluride.
While the Telluride went on to win the 2020 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year, you can expect similar accolades from the Sorento. The Sorento borrows a great deal from the Telluride, and this is a good thing. The Telluride burst onto the scene for the 2020 model year and took over the Sorento’s place in Kia’s lineup as the largest SUV. Now it’s the Sorento’s turn for a redesign, and it appears it is even more luxurious than the Telluride, which is almost unbelievable. For the price, there’s no better deal around.
The Luxurious Inside
The interior has already been compared to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, so you can expect that the interior will feature many luxury touches. From the pictures released by Kia, you can see a two-tone approach of tan and black with quilted stitching on the seats. The interior also features vertical air vents that are reminiscent of a Mustang’s tail lights—which is to say they look cool. You don’t expect air vents to be such a big deal, but Kia has made them a big deal.
Kia says that the Sorento is the “most high-tech vehicle Kia has ever created,” and you can see how much research and development must have gone into this redesign. It’s stunning, and that’s not often something you say about a vehicle in this segment. These are the kinds of words usually reserved for the luxury segment, not for more affordable vehicles such as the Sorento.
The refresh also features a brand-new chassis and next-generation tech hardware. Included is Kia’s signature “tiger nose” grille, but with a more refined and less pronounced and intimidating look for the Sorento. The grille wraps into a new set of LED headlights and is more elaborate and textured. There are also four fog lamps featured for a truly sophisticated look.
Inside you’ll find a 10.25-inch infotainment screen and matching 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. The screens are stacked for your convenience and blend as one seamless unit. There are also separate buttons for the temperature controls and ventilation, so you won’t have to use the touchscreen to adjust the HVAC system. Messing around with buttons can be a hassle and unsafe while driving, so it’s clear that Kia has given a lot of thought to the interior layout. There will even be dedicated switches for the heated and ventilated front seats on the center console.
Ambient LED lighting adds to the mood, and the posh leather upholstery show just how far Kia has come. You’ll find even more luxury touches, such as satin chrome trim, embossed wood-effect surfaces, and glossy black areas. While the Sorento might borrow some premium elements from the Telluride, Kia did an excellent job of giving it its own identity.
A Class of its Own
If you are looking for a midsize SUV, the Sorento seems to be one of the best choices on the market. It is hard to find an SUV that can compete with Kia’s compelling blend of luxury and affordability. Before Kia’s transformation, there were luxury cars, and there were affordable cars. Somehow Kia has found a way to walk the line somewhere in between. It’s almost as if Kia should have its own category. Something like a “near-luxury” car would be more accurate. One of the only things missing from the Sorento is the luxury-like price tag. The Sorento is way too affordable to consider itself a luxury SUV. Aside from the price tag, though, you might not realize which segment you are browsing. In fact, the Sorento does not suffer from sticker-shock, as its rival luxury manufacturers surely do, it elicits confusion from its amenities and premium materials, leaving people to wonder if they’ve wandered into the luxury section of the showroom.
The 2021 Kia Sorento will also feature Kia’s incredible 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, which is the best warranty in its class. Your family will undoubtedly enjoy having that peace of mind. And your budget will appreciate not having to pay for expensive repairs.
The 2020 Kia Sorento features a couple of different powertrain options, so you can expect to have choices when deciding on a power source for your new Sorento. The current model offers both a four-cylinder and V6 engine. But these might not carry over for the new-generation Sorento. Expect an engine similar to the Telluride’s to be available, however. The Telluride features a 3.8-liter V6 with 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. You will likely be just as excited by the Sorento’s powertrain option as the Telluride’s. There might even be a turbocharged four-cylinder from the K5.
Families should also be excited about all of the available tech features Kia has been introducing as of late. Driver Talk, for instance, is a neat feature to look out for when you are deciding how to outfit your new Sorento. Using a button on your steering wheel, you can communicate with passengers in the rear seats without having to yell. The system projects the driver’s voice through the stereo speakers. Conversely, if your passengers are asleep, preoccupied with a book, or another form of entertainment, there’s a Quiet Mode. This feature allows you to focus the speaker sound on the front seats. Your passengers will definitely appreciate the quiet, and you’ll finally be able to have a voice when you’re driving.
Another family-friendly feature developed by Kia is Rear Occupant Alert. If you happen to leave someone behind—a child or pet for example —ultrasonic sensors detect movement within the SUV and alert you to someone’s presence. If you don’t check the backseats, the alert lets you know there’s something still moving around in the SUV. If you lock the door, the horn honks, and the headlights flash. An alert can also be sent to your smartphone. Leaving someone behind is every parent’s worst nightmare, which makes these features a welcome addition to Kia’s family-oriented technology.
When Kia says that the Sorento will be the most high-tech vehicle they have ever created, it’s hard to imagine them topping the recent Telluride revamp, but it’s exciting to wonder just how far they will take the Sorento. They have already ventured into new territory, with the Telluride and other model refreshes, changing our expectations along the way. While before you might have been satisfied with an affordable SUV and a good powertrain warranty, now you expect much more, and you should.
For the 2021 Kia Sorrento, you should expect two-tone leather and satin chrome, a torquey engine with decent gas mileage, and lots of safety tech for the family—these are the things Kia is bringing to the market, and they’re doing it with style. With Kia, you’ll find the latest in driving-assistance, collision-avoidance, and infotainment technologies without even having to ask.