Bold but Busy: 2021 Kia Sorento Revealed
Kia Motors has revealed the next-generation Sorento ahead of its global debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, providing a better look at the midsize crossover than the spy shots that recently emerged from Korea.
Compared to the current-gen model, which delights in its approachable blandness, the new Sorento aims for a brawnier look. Recent CUV introductions — like the 2019 RAV4, for example — are proof of the industry’s belief that family-minded car buyers still want to be notice… and feared.
In Kia’s case, the Sorento’s design team may have gone too far in some regards. Or maybe they went just far enough.
That’s entirely a personal opinion, of course. While the 2021 Sorento (due for a March 3rd reveal) dons a chunkier body and more menacing “tiger nose” grille flanked by triple-cell LED headlamps, boosting the vehicle’s visual width, the “refined boldness” mentioned by Kia turns into an overload of visual information when you get to the vehicle’s stern. There’s a lot to look at. We riffed on the model’s Ford-like tail lamps in a previous post, but seeing the whole rear-quarter view is jarring.
Look at this corner:
Presumably fake vents adorn the rear fascia and bookend a protruding bumper, below which sits a mesh-filled valence and horizontally split exhaust ports ringed in brightwork. The raised chrome trim on the C-pillar, which rises like a stalagmite from the window sill but fails to reach the halfway point, is an odd flourish. This feature, plus the trim pieces adorning the front fenders, looks tacked-on (and thus tacky) to yours truly.
Kia admits it aimed for the “cab-rearward” profile that’s growing in popularity among front-biased crossovers. The automaker lengthened the wheelbase by an undisclosed amount, then pushed the base of the A-pillar back 1.2 inches further from the front axle. A strong body line connects head lamps to tail lamps, adding further visual length. There’s more than a bit of Telluride in that crease. Clearly, the Sorento is sick of looking like a minivan. It wants to look like an SUV.
Indeed, the automaker said it wanted to return to the chunkier proportions of previous Sorentos, albeit with a more elegant and refined interior. It’s worth noting that the model’s best-ever sales year was 2011. The updated Sorento’s interior boasts an undisclosed number of standard seats (the current-gen model flipped between optional and standard third row seating), though the growth in the model’s wheelbase and length implies you’ll find standard belt buckles beyond the second row. Kia’s communications suggest this.
While detailed specs are still unknown, Kia makes mention of a 10.25-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, the latter of which is undoubtedly a higher-trim feature. As we see here, the Sorento’s cabin is strongly in favor of the trend of strongly horizontal dash designs; the vents conform to the dash’s curvature and seem to mimic the tail lamp shape of many 1960s cars. Not a bad thing.
The Sorento is an extremely important model for Kia, falling less than a thousand units behind the brand’s top-selling model in 2019, and it finds itself with plenty of revamped competition. The Ford Explorer went rear-drive for 2020, the Toyota Highlander also gains a fully updated successor for the present year. Sorento sales fell 11 percent last year.
We’ll know more about what’s beneath the hood of this thing in short order.
[Images: Kia Motors]
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