The 2021 Kia Sorento still shuttles families in three rows of seats, but it’s not the largest crossover SUV available by the automaker anymore. That distinction goes to the fantastic Kia Telluride, the Korean automaker’s breakout hit last year and our Best Car To Buy 2020.
This year, the Sorento gets a makeover to find itself among other crossovers Kia’s since introduced, and perhaps break out of the cookie-cutter crossover shape it’s been stuck with for the past few years.
Kia hasn’t yet said how much it will cost, but the 2021 Sorento will likely arrive in the U.S. in late 2020.
Review continues below
Style and performance
The new Sorento’s big continental energy replaces its dowdier minivan shapes from last year, complete with a creased hood, thin LED headlights, and sharper nose. The Sorento channels some of its look from the new Seltos, at least in the front. The lower front bumper is full of right angles and creases and it appears to challenge the Toyota Highlander for the biggest chin in among family crossovers.
Along the sides, the Sorento’s largely the same as the outgoing version except for a fin-like tab near the rear window sticking up like a lone bottom tooth that may be different for different’s sake.
Around back, the Sorento flips its taillights 90 degrees and borrows liberally from the Telluride’s playbook. Upright taillights, a wide badge, and big rear window all read like Telluride Lite—not a bad thing.
Inside, we see even more similarities with the Telluride including a wide 10.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment, a digital instrument cluster, and a terrain select knob. The Sorento appears to have a rotary gear selector instead of the Telluride’s tall handle, and some interior accent lights around the doors and speakers.
Kia hasn’t yet detailed all of the Sorento’s powertrains, but the automaker gave us hints on two. A 277-horsepower 2.5-liter turbo-4 borrowed from the Genesis GV80 crossover will be available and paired to an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. A 1.6-liter turbo-4 paired to hybrid batteries and electric motors that makes 227 hp will be offered as well, also paired to an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic. Kia confirmed a plug-in hybrid is in the works, but it’s not clear if it’ll be related to the Sorento hybrid already announced, but with a bigger battery. Other engines, including a base inline-4, may appear but Kia is mum for now.
Front-wheel drive likely will be standard on most Sorentos, although all-wheel drive should be available (or standard) on other trims.
Comfort, safety, and features
Kia says the bones for the new 2021 Sorento are new, and the crossover rides with a slightly longer body than before—but still less than 190 inches from bumper to bumper.
We expect it will still seat seven with a short third row that’s best left for small children. There’s one extra inch between the wheels than the outgoing version, and the cabin has been moved closer to the engine than before. That should result in more interior space, which the Sorento lacked compared to direct rivals.
With all three rows in place, the old Sorento offered a scant 11.3 cubic feet of cargo space, which was smaller than most three-row crossovers.
We also don’t know if our gripes with the low seats in the second row have been addressed, we’ll update this space once we see it in person.
Kia hasn’t yet detailed standard or optional equipment, including safety features but it’s likely to include automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and a highway driving assistant that’s available on other Kia models.
It’s unclear how much the 2021 Sportage will cost when it goes on sale, but it’s likely to be more than the outgoing model that started around $26,000.