Kia reveals all-new, seven-seat Sorento SUV

Latest Kia Sorento is a safer, smarter and more spacious family wagon.

Kia has left few stones unturned in a bid to propel its seven-seat Sorento SUV up the sales charts, launching a comprehensively updated new model that’s gunning for large SUV rivals including the Hyundai Santa Fe and Mazda CX-8.  

The fourth generation of Kia’s family-friendly SUV debuts new styling, while boasting more interior space, higher quality finishes, new powertrains, upgraded infotainment and convenience features, and enhanced safety via sophisticated driver assistance technology.

The Sorento has proven an enduringly popular model for Kia since the first generation model launched here in 2003. 

Australians have bought almost 44,000 examples of the family SUV, including the previous generation UM Series, which came out in 2015 and claimed multiple class wins in Australia’s Best Cars. 

Kia claims its new MQ4 Sorento delivers 60 key improvements over the outgoing model. 

It’s the first to be based on the company’s new-generation N3 SUV platform and features a larger body designed to maximise cargo space, while accommodating new “Smartstream” powertrains which offer improved fuel efficiency, lower emissions, and enhanced performance.

The new exterior design is a collaborative effort of Kia’s design studios in Korea, North America and Europe. There are clear links to previous generations, but the new bodywork brings a notably more contemporary look. 

Up front there’s the latest version of the brand’s “tiger nose” grille, new headlamps with LED daytime running lamps, plus a revised bumper and air intakes.

2020 Kia Sorento GT-Line

Shorter front and rear overhangs, new vertical design taillights, a new shark fin styling element on the C-pillar, and a subtle rear spoiler that conceals the rear wiper are all part of the Sorento’s new look. 

The new body is 10mm longer, wider and higher than the outgoing model, with  shorter front and rear overhangs and a longer wheelbase (+35mm) equating to more interior space. Leg room in the first (+4mm) and second rows (+ 93mm) has improved, but third-row occupants have less leg room (-46mm) than before. There’s a touch more head room for first- and third-row passengers, and an extra 45mm of second-row seat slide-travel that should make access to the third-row easier.

Importantly, for a family SUV, boot space has been boosted to 616 litres (+11 litres) with five pews in use, 187 litres (+45 litres) with all rows occupied, and a generous 2011 litres (+349 litres) with both rear rows folded.

Kia has also uprated the maximum tow-ball download, when using a genuine Kia towbar, to 200kg from just 100kg on the old model. There is no change to the 2000kg maximum braked towing capacity, however. 

Interior fit and finishes have been upgraded, with the use of premium materials and a sophisticated new dash design featuring an updated infotainment system. 

The entry-level Sorento S and Sport come standard with embossed black cloth seats, the mid-spec Sport+ gets leather-appointed black cloth, while the top-spec GT Line boasts black-quilted Nappa leather.

The flagship GT-Line also features a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, complemented by a 10.25-inch navigation and infotainment touchscreen. Its 8.5-inch colour head-up display incorporates safety, navigation and speed-limit alerts. 

On the “surprise-and-delight” front, the GT-Line boasts a snazzy 64-colour ambient mood-lighting system, plus an innovative in-car intercom system that uses a microphone to amplify the driver’s voice through the rear speakers, to make conversation with rear-seat passengers easier. 

<2020 Kia Sorento GT-Line

A wireless smartphone charger and 12-speaker premium Bose sound system are also standard, while all models boast standard digital radio, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. 

Under the bonnet is Kia’s new-generation Smartstream 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, which musters 148kW/440Nm and delivers combined cycle fuel consumption of 6.1L/100km. 

The new aluminium-block diesel cuts a whopping 19.5kg from the overall weight of the old cast-iron R Series engine. 

A new eight-speed, wet-double-clutch automated transmission mates to the diesel engine, driving through an active part-time all-wheel-drive system with lock mode. The company claims shift smoothness on par with a conventional auto, with fuel efficiency gains of up to 15% compared with a standard eight-speed auto. Gear shifting on the GT Line is via a new “switch by wire” rotary shifter knob.

Diesel models also get a new Terrain Mode system, designed to optimise progress in mud, snow, or sand. Modes are selected via a dial on the centre console to alter the electronic stability control system, distribution of torque to all four wheels, and transmission shift times to help maintain traction.

The petrol engine is a carryover 3.5-litre petrol V6 with outputs of 200kW/332Nm, with some engineering tweaks to improve its fuel efficiency, according to Kia. 

It’s married to an eight-speed automatic but is available only in front-wheel-drive configuration. A petrol-electric hybrid model is also due sometime in early 2021.

Kia says engineering changes for the new Sorento were aimed at enhancing its refinement and making it a more enjoyable drive. 

This includes adoption of the new platform which ensures a stronger, safer and more rigid body structure, thanks to increased use of high-strength steels and hot-stamped steel components.

2020 Kia Sorento GT-Line

A range of measures to address engine, transmission, wind and road noise have also been also implemented to make the cabin a more serene space, says Kia.

Revisions to the independent suspension include new components, geometry changes, and special ZF Sachs dampers, which collectively deliver improved ride comfort and body control, along with more responsive steering and handling as a result. The new Sorento also benefits from “localised” suspension tuning. 

The new Sorento ups the ante on safety, too, with larger brake discs front and rear, a bigger brake booster that together help reduce stopping distance from 100km/h by 1.2m.

Seven airbags are standard, including dual front, front seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags (first and second rows) with rollover sensor, and a front centre airbag. Kia claims the latter is a segment-first in Australia, providing additional protection for front seat occupants by preventing their heads coming into contact during a collision.

All variants include multi-collision braking which automatically applies the brakes when airbag deployment has occurred after an initial collision, protecting occupants from secondary frontal or side impacts. 

Sorento’s standard autonomous emergency braking system incorporates junction assist and pedestrian, cyclist and vehicle detection capabilities. Rear cross traffic alert with braking function comes on all models, while the GT-Line includes a parking collision-avoidance assist capability that detects objects and pedestrians.

Another feature fitted to all versions is safe exit assist, which detects vehicles approaching from the rear when a door is opened and provides a visual and audible warning to help prevent a collision.

2020 Kia Sorento Sport

Reserved for the GT-Line flagship is remote smart parking assist, that enables drivers to remotely start and move the vehicle in or out of a parking slot from outside the vehicle, using only the key fob. It’s designed to allow entry or exit into narrow parking spaces or garages, where it might otherwise be difficult to get in or out of the vehicle. 

Braking is auto applied if the system detects an obstacle, but owners in Western Australia won’t be permitted to use the feature, as the State’s Road Traffic Code 2000 prohibits driving a vehicle unless the driver is behind the steering wheel with full control of the vehicle.

There are four different alloy wheel sizes rising up through the grades, starting at 17-inch and ending with 20-inch on the GT-Line, with a full-size alloy spare wheel supplied on all grades. A seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty is standard, as is seven-year capped price servicing and seven-year roadside assist.

Unsurprisingly, the new features and enhancements bring price rises across the board, as per the table below, but Kia Motors Australia COO Damien Meredith said he was confident the new model offered the right mix of performance, features and functionality to justify the increases.

“Across the four trim levels we believe the Sorento will meet the needs, and exceed the expectations, of anyone shopping in the seven-seat SUV market,” Mr Meredith said. 

 Kia Sorento MY21  Engine  RRP  Drive-away
 2WD S Petrol Auto  3.5  $45,850  $46,990
 2WD Sport Petrol Auto  3.5  $48,470  $49,990
 2WD Sport + Petrol Auto  3.5  $52,850   $54,390
 2WD GT-Line Petrol Auto  3.5  $60,070  $61,990
 AWD S Diesel DCT  2.2  $48,850  $49,990
 AWD Sport Diesel DCT  2.2  $51,470  $52,990
 AWD Sport + Diesel DCT  2.2  $55,850  $57,390
 AWD GT-Line Diesel DCT  2.2  $63,070  $64,990