The new-generation 2021 Kia Sorento is right around the corner, and the Korean brand has big plans for its flagship SUV in Australia.
In addition to the overhauled design inside and out, Kia will be offering a range of brand-first features and technologies in the Sorento, as well as some segment firsts in Australia.
With a range of high-end features and technologies on offer, Kia is pitching the Sorento as a genuine alternative to some of the premium marques.
The new Sorento will be the first Hyundai/Kia model in Australia to offer the company’s Blind Spot View Monitor system, which is already available on the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride overseas, and will soon be added to the heavily-revised 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe.
Similar in concept to Honda’s LaneWatch camera system, the Blind Spot View Monitor projects a live feed of the vehicle’s blind zones into the digital instrument cluster, though in Hyundai and Kia’s implementation the cameras operate on both sides of the vehicle and show the feed in the instrument cluster, rather than the infotainment system.
At this stage it appears just the flagship Sorento GT-Line will feature the Blind Spot View Monitor as standard equipment, though it hasn’t been confirmed whether it will be available as an option on lower grades.
In a first for the large SUV segment in Australia, the new-generation Sorento will come with a front-centre airbag between the driver and front passenger seats as standard across the range.
The additional inflator, which will become a requirement under 2020 ANCAP and Euro NCAP protocols to achieve a full five-star safety rating, will deploy out the side of the driver’s seat, protecting both front-seat occupants from colliding their heads during a side collision or rollover.
Seven airbags will be fitted including the new front-centre inflator, with dual front, front side, and side curtain airbags to feature across the range. Unfortunately, going by the overseas image above, third-row occupants miss out on curtain airbag protection.
We’ve seen similar systems available on luxury vehicles from the likes of BMW, but Kia’s new Remote Smart Parking Assist function is something of a rarity in the mainstream segments.
Fitted as standard to the flagship GT-Line, the technology enables drivers to move their car autonomously out of a front-and-back parking space remotely with their key fob.
Check out the same tech in the Hyundai advertisement below:
The system is designed to make it easier for passengers to get in and out of the car in tight spaces, or if another driver parks too close to access any the doors.
Additionally, Remote Smart Parking Assist can brake the Sorento autonomously if it detects another car, cyclist or pedestrian behind the vehicle or crossing behind it.
Diesel versions of the new Sorento in Australia will debut a new eight-speed dual-clutch (wet) automatic, with the engine and transmission forming part of Hyundai/Kia’s new ‘Smartstream’ family of powertrain technologies.
Outputs for the revised diesel are largely unchanged, developing 148kW of power and 440Nm.
The biggest changes come from the transmission, which is a new dual-clutch unit likely related to the shifter seen in the Hyundai Sonata N Line and Kia K5 GT, as well as the upcoming Hyundai i30 N facelift.
Kia claims the eight-speed wet-clutch DCT offers a torque capacity improvement of 58 per cent compared to the seven-speed dry-type unit offered in a range of current models.
Additionally, the eight-speed DCT is claimed to be 3.0 per cent more efficient than the outgoing eight-speed torque converter auto through reduced power loss and increased hydraulic efficiency, which also results in improved acceleration.
The new transmission is also available in hybrid versions of the Sorento – which won’t be available at launch but could join the line-up later on, according to Kia Australia – as well as the 2.5-litre turbo petrol model available in Korea.
Official fuel consumption data is still to be confirmed for the new Sorento, though we’re betting there should be an improvement over the outgoing generation – the Korean model claims economy of 7.0L/100km, a 0.2L/100km improvement over the current model’s claim in Australia.
The Sorento GT-Line will join the Stinger in offering high-grade nappa leather-appointed upholstery – with quilting.
The Sorento won’t be the first non-premium model to offer nappa hide, but it’s another high-end feature available that helps Kia close the gap with luxury brands, and one of the few vehicles with such trim available.
It’s unclear what colours will be available locally, though black is pretty much certain, with grey and cream colourways also available in South Korea.
Other vehicles in the mainstream segments offering nappa leather include the Mazda CX-9 Azami – a key rival for the Sorento – as well as the Nissan Qashqai Ti, and the Volkswagen Golf R Final Edition.
The fourth-generation Kia Sorento is due in Australian showrooms by the end of August.
Kia’s local division has confirmed diesel all-wheel drive versions will touch down first, with V6 petrol front-drive variants to follow “within months”.
Pricing starts at $49,990 drive-away for the Sorento S diesel AWD, climbing to $64,990 drive-away for the Sorento GT-Line diesel AWD.
Meanwhile, the S petrol will kick off at a more affordable $46,990 drive-away, with the front-drive GT-Line petrol to start from $61,990 drive-away when V6 versions arrive around the end of the year.
Read our full pricing and specifications breakdown here.