What We Know About the 2021 Kia Sorento

March 13th, 2020 by

A white 2021 Kia Sorento is driving out of a parking garage after leaving a Kia dealership near me.

When you typed into your search bar, “Kia dealership near me,” were you surprised to see info already out on the new 2021 Kia Sorento? You may feel like 2020 just got started, but we wanted to pull out the stops on the new 2021 Sorento tech highlights and features because there’s a lot to be excited about. The entire vehicle has been revamped with new design elements. Though it may not be a complete overhaul of the 2020 model, the 2021 Sorento is noticeably improved in rather striking contrast to its previous generation.

Several spy shots were released on the sly when the Sorento was being tested, and rumors flew about what exactly was under the disguise. It was very evident that the vehicle had been given a more modern look, but until now, it was hard to tell how much had changed. We still don’t have all the details of what the 2021 Sorento will be adding, but exciting tidbits are tantalizing for sure. Kia has called this an intuitive design that inhabits “refined boldness.” With such an introduction, it seems only fair to now divulge what we know about the new Sorento.

How Does the New Sorento Look?

A white 2021 Kia Sorento is parked on a street.

New photos have been released, and the body has definitely upgraded to a fresher, sharper appearance. The edges of the hood are crisp lines as opposed to the rounded slope; the “tiger nose” grille takes on more prominence as it melds with the triple-dotted, slanted lines of the sleek headlights; and the taillights are now two vertical lines to the old horizontal design. This tiger-themed ideal in the front end will lend itself again to the daytime-running LED lights, as they are meant to resemble tiger eyes when lit.

Kia has lengthened the body by the slightest hair but shaved back the nose and tail protrusions. The result is a body that actually looks shorter despite the added length. Another noticeable detail is the prominent “Sorento” lettering on the back end, which strangely does not detract from the appearance in the least.

The lines of the whole body certainly blend beautifully when you take in the sculpted flow of the entire length. From the front headlights to the taillights is a singular stroke of shaping that does give the eye a distinct line to follow. In moving the A-pillar back, the front end becomes even more athletic-looking and certainly could give the impression of a jungle cat on the prowl. In general, the body has a unique sporty style that makes you want to pop the door open and zip around corners to see how fast she’ll go.

The interior appearance takes it a step further with an ethereal glow from a lighted strip that extends across the passenger side of the dash and highlights the gleaming front door pulls. A two-tone interior color palette sets off the sporty vibe again, and the materials have a soft-touch appeal. Leather seats, metallic trim, and wood accents are lending themselves to a far more upscale feel. Kia is choosing to keep the Sorento as a three-row passenger vehicle, and a slightly longer wheelbase would suggest a roomier interior.

An interesting bonus in the design of the third row indicates that these seats will be able to respond to adjustment to allow for either more second-row space or more cargo space, depending on what configuration is used. Another possible change is that the seating will be arranged for six, which remains to be seen upon the reveal. This potential seating arrangement may be due to the new design of the third row, possibly necessitated by the way the seats are made to allow for more flexibility in their use of space.

What’s Under the Hood?

Reports from Kia say that the 2021 Sorento will have a new hybrid 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine, which will tout 227 hp with 258 lb-ft of torque. The 3.3-liter V6 might make its exit when the hybrid comes onto the scene, but a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine will be available with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. This turbocharged option will put out 277 hp with 311 lb-ft of torque. Whatever engine options Kia plans to offer, expect to have the choice of either front-wheel or all-wheel drive, which holds true to the current models. A plug-in hybrid may also make an appearance, but this is all speculation. There is still no definitive answer about whether or not a diesel engine may be an option in the US, either, so for the moment we are only certain about two engines.

New Safety Features and Platform

The tan leather interior of a 2021 Kia Sorento is shown overlooking a beach at sunset near Freehold, NJ.

One marked development for the Sorento is the new platform, which is expected to improve the smoothness of the ride and make handling more responsive. Safety features are also being added with new airbags placed at knee level for the driver, and a new crash avoidance system. This driver assisted-technology is being called a “multiple collision avoidance automatic braking system,” and its purpose is to avoid a secondary crash if a first crash occurred. Brakes will automatically be deployed if the car senses the driver has lost control after a crash has already taken place. In the case of a driver who may have been injured in a crash and cannot operate the vehicle, this technology sounds like it could save lives.

New Technology and Controls

A 10.25-inch infotainment screen in the center of the dash blends well with the rest of the instruments rather than seeming like an afterthought, as is so often the case with screens in other vehicle designs. The high-resolution digital instrument panel is a well-appointed 12.3 inches that appears easy to read. Kia states in their press release about the Sorento that the infotainment system will incorporate audio-visual navigation, and that it will be “cutting edge.” Further commentary about the new design is that the “interior also subtly integrates other technologies to enhance connectivity, driver assistance and infotainment.”

It’s clear from the photos that a number of features are accessible from the steering wheel with the use of buttons lined easily within the center of the wheel. Also clearly visible is the rotary shift knob, which replaces a stick, located at the base of the center console. Controls for the seat heaters and ventilation appear to be located there as well, with climate controls having their own physical buttons instead of being relegated to the touch screen. Rhomboid-shaped vents create a rather distinct design choice, and they lend themselves well to the overall classy appearance of the entire command center of the vehicle.

One can only speculate what another fascinating new tech will be revealed when the final version is fully revealed on March 3 of 2020, especially when Kia announces in a press release that this is “the most high-tech vehicle” they’ve ever created. One certainty in this teasing reveal is that this new Sorento is graduating to a far more sophisticated fourth generation. Kia has taken such a well-thought-out direction that it may very well set new standards for other brands in its class. If SUVs were already a hot commodity, the 2021 Sorento might make them even hotter.