Kia transforms the 2021 Sorento from minivan-esque to muscular with the reimagined version of its mid-size crossover. With a squarer silhouette and more assertive exterior details, the new generation looks a lot different than the one it replaces. The cabin design is an improvement over its predecessor, too, with slick digital interfaces and snazzier styling throughout. The three-row SUV also has a diverse selection of powertrains, including a 281-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a hybrid model that will deliver 39 mpg in the city. Slotting between the 10Best-winning Telluride and the compact Sportage, the 2021 Sorento looks to further bolster an already impressive portfolio of Kia SUVs.
What’s New for 2021?
The Sorento is all new for 2021. Its boxier proportions and bolder styling mark a stark departure from the curvier and softer appearance of the outgoing Sorento. In addition to riding on an all-new platform that’s bigger inside and out, the new Sorento adds a hybrid powertrain as well as an eventual plug-in variant.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
While Kia has said the 2021 Sorento will be available in five different trim levels, the company hasn’t said how much any of them will cost. We expect each model will be priced slightly more than the equivalent version in the current lineup.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Sorento lineup will have a selection of engine options and be available with front- or all-wheel drive. A 191-hp 2.5-liter inline-four-cylinder engine is standard and a 281-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder is available, too. Both pair with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and the hybrid model uses a six-speed automatic. The eco-friendly Sorento hybrid features the combination of a turbo 1.6-liter four-cylinder gas engine and a 44-kW electric motor. However, it will only be offered with front-wheel drive. Kia will eventually offer a plug-in-hybrid version as well. As with the regular hybrid, it’ll have a turbocharged 1.6-liter, but it’ll feature a 66.9-kW electric motor and be all-wheel-drive only. Kia also said the Sorento will be able to tow up to 3500 pounds.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The 2021 Sorento is expected to be more fuel efficient than the outgoing version. While official EPA fuel-economy ratings are not available for the gas-engine models, Kia estimates the base 2.5-liter engine will earn 27 mpg combined and the turbocharged 2.5-liter will earn 25 mpg combined. The EPA has posted fuel economy figures for the hybrid, however: it earns 39 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway for a combined 37 mpg. We don’t know the MPGe estimate for the future plug-in-hybrid model, but we’re told it’ll have an all-electric driving range of 30 miles.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Sorento’s interior is a big departure from the current version’s rather staid aesthetic. The dashboard can be outfitted with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The rest of the design blends rhombus-shaped air vents, integrated ambient lighting, and intricately stitched surfaces on the door panels and seat inserts. The center console hosts a rotary shift knob as well as a drive-mode selector and other vehicle functions. A variety of cubby storage spots and cupholders also fill out the console. While we can’t comment on how comfortable the cabin is until we ride in one, the Sorento’s wheelbase has been stretched by 1.4 inches compared with its predecessor, and Kia said the extra length and new platform increase interior space. Along with a standard third row, its second-row bench can be swapped for a pair of captain’s chairs.
Infotainment and Connectivity
With infotainment and connectivity features at the forefront of new-car technology, the Sorento supports all of the most desirable content. It comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen or an optional 10.3-inch touchscreen. Along with a wireless charging pad, there’s also an optional 12-speaker Bose sound system for those who prefer an upscale audio experience.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 Sorento hasn’t been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It does offer a roster of standard and optional driver-assistance technology, however. The Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Kia has one of the most impressive warranty plans in the industry. However, it doesn’t offer the complimentary maintenance that its corporate counterpart, Hyundai, does.
- Limited warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance