Next-gen Kia Sorento Fully Revealed

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The next-generation Kia Sorento has been fully revealed. Here are all the details, including its new engine range. There's also a strong chance this 7-seater SUV will come to SA too.

Although it would be an exaggeration to say we’ve seen as many spy shots of the Sorento on social media as of "upcoming Volkswagen Golf 8 performance derivatives undergoing winter testing", we’ve already published a couple of articles about Kia’s newcomer, based on Instagram and Facebook posts and design sketches.

Now that we can study these official photos (Kia is yet another brand to post images of its Geneva star ahead of the show), there aren’t major surprises compared with what we’ve already published, but there are tantalising details that weren’t visible before. The new model is based on an all-new platform and claimed to “raise standards in (its) segment for space, practicality, efficiency and quality”.


Yes indeed, the new Sorento's headlamp clusters sit inside of the SUV's characteristic tiger-nose grille.

In the South African market, the Sorento competes with bakkie-based Adventure SUVs, but the new model clearly aims to take on the executive SUV brigade led by offerings such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Volvo XC60.

Kia’s designers drew inspiration from what the Korean firm describes as the “concept of refined boldness”. They’ve referenced the designs of earlier generations of the model, but have also applied “a greater degree of refinement and elegance” to produce “a more confident, more mature and more desirable design”, Kia claims.

Marked by its sharper lines and uninterrupted sheet-metal surfaces, the new Sorento looks decidedly more sculpted than any of its predecessors. It’s clearly a big brother to the eye-catching Seltos and appears sportier and more square-jawed than ever.


Note the ornate side-strakes underneath the side-mirrors and the shark's fin motif in the rear 3-quarter lights.

Apart from the bold “chain mail” mesh of the signature "tiger nose" grille and swept-back slim-line headlamps (with distinctive C-shaped LED daytime running lights), the bold chrome-look surround is the standout element, because it encases the grille and the lighting elements. The trailing edge of the bonnet wraps around the fenders and turns into bold character lines that extend along the sides of the SUV. Also note the bold, ornamental side strakes that bisect the front fenders and –doors…

The newcomer appears longer than before by virtue of shorter overhangs (it has a longer wheelbase than the current model). The bonnet has been lengthened too, which pushes the A-pillars 30 mm back for a more “cab-rearward” design. At the back, a quartet of (refreshingly geometric) vertical tail light clusters nestles under a tapered mid-tailgate ledge that blends into the SUV's shoulder lines.


In an era of organically-shaped and elongated wraparound tail-light clusters, the new Sorento bucks the trend.

In many ways, the new Sorento’s cabin steals the show. The interior is a melange of metallic accents, leather trim and embossed wood-effect surfaces – “one of the highest-quality interior spaces in any Kia to date”. What’s more, it “integrates new technologies to enhance connectivity, driver assistance and infotainment” and represents the “most high-tech (vehicle interior the company) has created”.

Other “contemporary geometric details” that are continued on the inside include the ornate rectangular door handles and vertically-stacked air-vent pods. A 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system is flanked (and complemented) by a 12.3-inch high-resolution digital instrument cluster and we assume those units will be customisable with extended features/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto capability. There's plenty of semi-autonomous safety tech too, such as Kia's latest Forward Collision-avoidance Assist (FCA) technology with pedestrian, cyclist and vehicle detection. This also detects oncoming traffic when making a turn at a junction. The Sorento is also available with Blind-spot View Monitor (BVM), Surround View Monitor (SVM) and Blind-spot Collision-avoid Assist (BCA), Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA), Smart Cruise Control with Stop&Go (SCC) and Navigation-based SCC (NSCC), Lane Following Assist (LFA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), and Highway Driving Assist (HDA).


The tasteful dual-tone interior treatment of the new Sorento incorporates tasteful lighting elements and metallic-finish accents.

But there are details that Kia didn’t mention in its press material that deserve to be pointed out… Note the double-stitched (leather?) dashboard, how the subtle LED interior lighting extends to the metallic speaker covers next to the door handles, of which the toothed pattern is duplicated on the sill ahead of the front passenger. Toggles on either side of the centre console suggest the front seats will be both heated and ventilated and – it’s too obvious to miss – there is a Jaguar/Land Rover-style transmission selector knob on the centre console. We assume a wireless charging pad will be located under the new Sorento's fascia hang-down section.

It’s too early to speculate on the number of features the new Sorento will gain over the current model in our market (but we definitely expect more mod cons and integral safety systems), but the 2.2-litre turbodiesel (mated with an 8-speed automatic transmission) is likely to remain the only powertrain in the SA range; if Kia’s current line-up is anything to go by, there will be at least 2 trim levels, as well as both 2- and 4-wheel-drive derivatives in the line-up. Globally, Kia will also offer a hybrid powertrain for the first time in the Sorento, but it is unlikely to make its way to South Africa.

The Kia Sorento Hybrid features a new powertrain called the Smartstream. It's a 1.6-litre T-GDi (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) with a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack and 44.2 kW electric motor. It packs 170 and 350 Nm torque, with power sent through the 6-speed automatic transmission via a transmission-mounted electrical device. There's also a new four-cylinder 2.2-litre ‘Smartstream’ diesel engine is also available for European customers, producing 149 kW and 440 Nm torque. This new aluminium block is 19.5 kg lighter than the cast-iron block of its predecessor and it is paired with KIA’s new eight-speed wet double-clutch transmission (8DCT). 

We’ll bring you more information about the new Sorento’s local arrival date, specification and derivative line-up as soon as it becomes available. European sales are expected to kick off in the 3rd quarter of 2020, while Kia South Africa says it'll advise when the new Sorento is due.

Related content:

Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDI LX (2019) Review

Kia Seltos (2019) Specs & Price

Kia Seltos (2019) International Launch Review

Kia Sonet on cards for SA?

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