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2021 Kia Sorento touches down with premium aspirations

The new Sorento has touched down with a new look, a new interior, and the promise of plug-in hybrid and hybrid power.

2 weeks ago
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Scott Collie
News Editor

The seven-seat Kia Sorento SUV is finally here.

The Stinger fastback is a performance hero for Kia Australia, but the seven-seat Sorento is a stronger seller, and debuts a new suite of technology features. Given we don’t get the Telluride in Australia, it’s going straight to the top of the tree for Kia.

When it hits showrooms, the Sorento will go head-to-head with the related Hyundai Santa Fe, new Toyota Kluger, and the current Skoda Kodiaq, Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, and Peugeot 5008.

Kia says it’s aiming higher than the current segment benchmarks, though. Apparently, it’s been tested alongside the Volvo XC90, BMW X5, and Volkswagen Touareg.

Although it will launch with 3.5-litre petrol V6 and 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine choices, both series hybrid and plug-in hybrid options will follow in the first half of 2021.

When they arrive, the hybrid options will make the Sorento the only car in Australia to offer petrol, diesel, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid powertrains.

Inside, it debuts a number of technology features for Kia in Australia. There’s a blind-spot monitor that shows a live camera feed from under the wing mirrors, like a more advanced version of Honda’s LaneWatch system, and Smart Park technology allowing owners to squeeze their Sorento from tight parking spots without actually being in the car.

Following in the footsteps of the Toyota Yaris, Mazda BT-50, and Isuzu D-Max, the Sorento will debut with a centre airbag that fires between the driver and passenger to prevent flailing limbs (and heads) from colliding in a serious side impact crash.

Kia is aiming to sell 400 cars per month, or 4800 per year. That would represent an improvement over the 3777 it shifted in 2019, and the 4385 it sold in 2018.

That target leaves it behind the Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota Kluger based on 2019 sales figures, but narrowly ahead of the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace.

The Sorento won’t have everything its own way. The next-generation Toyota Kluger is larger and higher-tech than the car it replaces, and will touch down with hybrid power for the first time in welcome news for families on a budget.

The Kluger hybrid blends a petrol 2.5-litre engine with two electric motors and a compact battery, delivering a combined 179kW to all four wheels. A naturally-aspirated petrol V6 option will also be available.

A full suite of Toyota Safety Sense systems will be available, from autonomous emergency braking and lane-keeping assist to adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert.

Standard local specifications will be revealed closer to launch, but the new Kluger is likely to carry a price premium over the current model, which kicks off at just under $45,000 before on-road costs.

Also gunning for the Sorento is the new Hyundai Santa Fe, which is being billed as a facelift but actually rides on an all-new platform.

Expect to see the same petrol and diesel options as the Sorento, along with a regular hybrid powertrain. Hyundai hasn’t managed to lock in the plug-in hybrid, but CarExpert understands it’s lobbying head office hard to bring it Down Under.

Inside, the Santa Fe benefits from a new 12.3-inch digital instrument binnacle and a fresh 10.25-inch infotainment screen. Both are similar to those in the Sorento.

The transmission tunnel has been redesigned with a new off-road mode selector and a more button-heavy look than the current model. Under the raised transmission tunnel is a large storage space, according to Hyundai.

The company also promises “every component” is finished in “premium soft-touch materials” for a more luxurious, upmarket feel from behind the wheel.

Which seven-seat SUV takes your fancy?


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