By on September 22, 2020

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. Image: KiaThere’s a whole slew of virtual vehicle launches happening this month and next, and Kia took their turn today, unveiling the 2021 Kia Sorento.

Available in five trims (LX, S, EX, SX, and SX-Prestige), the Sorento will be available with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. There will be three powertrains, including a hybrid, on offer at first, with a plug-in hybrid coming later. There will also be an X-Line version that can be matched up with certain trims.

The top-line trim, then, will be the X-Line SX-Prestige AWD, which will have torque-on-demand all-wheel drive, center-locking differential, downhill descent control, 8.3-inch ride height (one inch above standard), different bumpers, 20-inch wheels that are unique to this model, and a bridge-type roof rack.

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. Image: Kia

The three-row Sorento will be available with second-row captain’s chairs, meaning buyers can pick two plus two plus two or two plus three plus two seating configurations.

Kia is making a bunch of driver-aid features standard – forward-collision avoidance assist, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, and rear-occupant alert. Blind-spot collision avoidance assist (parallel exit), passenger safe-exit assist, and blind-view monitor is now available.

The exterior design is boxy and rugged, taking cues from the larger Telluride, and the interior features a digital gauge cluster. It, too, is a bit boxy, with the gauge cluster and infotainment screen being rectangular, stretching toward the passenger. LED headlamps are standard, signature LED lighting is optional, and there are six different wheel designs to choose from, from 17- to 20-inch wheels. Leather seats are optional.

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. Image: Kia

Riding on the new N3 platform, the Sorento gains 1.4 inches in wheelbase while dropping 119 pounds. Kia claims average tensile strength is up by 4 percent.

There will be four powertrains to choose from: A 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 191 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque mating to an eight-speed automatic (estimated 27 mpg combined); a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 281 horsepower and 311 lb-ft that can tow 3,500 pounds and has an estimated 25 mpg combined, also paired with an eight-speed automatic (dual-clutch); a 1.6-liter turbo-four that pairs with an electric motor for 227 horsepower and 39 mpg city/35 highway/37 combined; and a 1.6-liter turbo-four pairing with an electric motor in a plug-in hybrid setup for 261 horsepower.

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line. Image: Kia

The hybrid is FWD only and uses a 5 kWh battery, while the plug-in, which won’t be available til calendar year 2021, uses an 8 kWh battery, has an estimated all-electric range of 30 miles, and is AWD only. Both hybrids have a six-speed automatic transmission.

2021 Sorento SX. Image: Kia

Other key available features include a 360-degree camera, eight USB ports (six in LX), 8- or 10.25-inch infotainment screen, split-screen function, satellite radio, haptic touch, Bluetooth that can pair two phones simultaneously, UVO infotainment/telematics, Bose audio, the ability to use Alexa or Google Assistant for remote functions like starting, last-mile navigation (provides walking directions if you’re parked 0.1-0.2 miles from the destination), wireless cell-phone charging, speed-limit assist, smart cruise control, driver-attention warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and highway-driving assist.

Kia has yet to announce pricing, but the Sorento goes on sale in the fourth quarter of this year.

[Images: Kia]

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15 Comments on “2021 Kia Sorento: Here It Is...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I like the interior the exterior is ok, but the roof line still does that weird cut at the rear that I never really liked. It will sell very well I’m sure

  • avatar
    amwhalbi

    Not a bad looking SUV. It clearly shows some Telluride DNA, and I like the option of picking a second row of captain’s chairs instead of a bench. Would be worth a look if I was looking for something in that segment.

    One nit to pick (there always is one) : the top of the line trim is called the “X-Line SX-Prestige AWD.” C’mon, Kia; you can come up with a trim name that is a bit more succinct and easier to remember/say. Just sayin’.

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    I think it could compete well with the Audi Q5. Save $30K too; and by buying the new Sorento!

  • avatar
    Eaststand

    Very very good looking thing, if you like SUVs, Kia is knocking it out of the park, that interior is great as well, I wonder if it has any long term problems that kill residuals like all other kias though.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Nice 4 cylinder Explorer?

  • avatar

    Baby Tellyouride.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I’ve never been a fan of the Sorrento’s C pillar, but in these days of swoops and curves it’s great to see a more squared design with functional interior cargo space. This is nice and straight forward. Does the plug-in then relay on the regular hybrid set-up or just for the 30 mile range?

    The dash and IP are pretty straight forward as well. Looks great overall.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    The first thing I noticed about the interior is that the center HVAC vents look like the tail lights from a Ford Galaxie (or something from that era).

    I’m not really “into” crossovers so maybe I’m missing something, but what would be the reasoning for having both this and the Telluride in the lineup?

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    The Sorrento appears right sized with just enough “truckishness” in its design to avoid looking like a minivan replacement. It almost resemble how an updated Dodge Journey would look if FCA had cared to invest in that nameplate.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Now that I have to drive 20k /year, I ‘d be interested in the Hybrid version, but it’s not available in AWD trim.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Looks pretty good and glad to hear that unlike Hyundai with the Sante Fe they are upgrading the base engine to the better 191 Hp 2.5. The 2.5T should be a great powerful entry but in usual Kia/Hyundai fashion will probably limit this to the highest price trim level. Also the regular hybrid should be available in AWD not just the plug in.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Find the sheet metal band compared to the Telluride, and the otherwise nice interior is marred by those awkwardly sized/shaped vents.

    It’ll be interesting to see if the new Sorento creates a feeding frenzy like the Telluride (particularly, the higher trims), commanding a premium over MSRP.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    DAMN. That thing is, like the Telluride, shockingly good looking…inside and out. If they hadn’t made the decision to maintain various cues for continuity with the previous model and/or cost saving, it could have been better looking still.

    I was getting all hot and bothered about the PHEV version. But…30 miles of EV range on an 8kWh battery? That…that’s got to be a misprint. That’s a pathetically, ridiculously, laughably small battery. Thirteen miles, maybe? Or maybe they meant to write 18kWh battery? For reference, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (the critter that created the PHEV AWD CUV segment) has 14-some kWh, with 12 kWh usable, and only ekes out 22 miles.

    The only thing I can think is that maybe this is a Ford Energi style PHEV, where “electric” mode is really “crippled” mode, with less than 50% power available. That style of PHEV should be killed with fire.

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