Kia Australia plans to end the year with a bang, with the mid-life update of the Sorento due in the fourth quarter of 2023.

In addition, Kia is also launching the new EV9 three-row electric SUV and updated Picanto light hatchback during the fourth quarter.

When the facelifted Sorento arrives in Australia, Kia Australia has also hinted it could reopen orders for the heavily supply-constrained Sorento Hybrid and PHEV.

“As soon as the order bank is back under control, which could potentially be with the PE [product enhancement, or mid-life update], then we’ll reevaluate it then,” said Kia Australia chief operating officer Dennis Piccoli.

Kia Australia was forced to close order books for the Sorento Hybrid and PHEV late last year due to growing backorders.

Supply had maxed out at just 20 HEVs and 10 PHEVs per month.

A number of updated Kia Sorento prototypes have been spied over the last few months with camouflage on the front and back.

It’s expected this mid-life facelift will keep the Sorento fresh up against the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe, which is set to receive a Land Rover Defender-like redesign.

“Obviously Sorento is such an important product for the Kia brand,” said Kia Australia product planning general manager Roland Rivero.

“We work hard to ensure that it remains extremely competitive in the Large SUV category, even though it is a facelift as opposed to a full model change.”

“A facelift is never going to be as substantial as a full model change,” added Mr Rivero.

Notable changes on spied Sorento prototypes include vertically oriented headlights like the EV9 and Telluride, tweaked tail light signature, and new wheel designs.

It’s expected Kia will make changes to the updated Sorento’s cabin, potentially bringing a less cluttered dashboard more in line with the smaller Seltos and Sportage.

A quasi-wraparound assembly encompassing the digital instrument cluster and infotainment display has already appeared in those smaller SUVs. The Sportage is offered with a larger 12.3-inch central touchscreen.

The Sorento currently tops out with a 10.25-inch touchscreen, though in GT-Line trim it also boasts a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

Kia Australia has already confirmed all updated and new-generation models will gain Kia Connect capabilities. A combination of both live services and a smartphone app, Kia Connect uses an onboard modem and Optus SIM.

We’re also expecting Kia to de-clutter the dashboard fascia, as we’ve seen with the likes of the EV6 and Sportage. The media and HVAC controls could be combined into a capacitive touch bar, with physical switchgear pared back.

Given the Sorento’s flagship status for Kia on a global level – the Telluride is exclusive to markets like North America and the Middle East – we could also expect to see new Hyundai Motor Group technology and/or more luxury features like ventilated second-row seating and tri- or quad-zone climate control.

Depending on the market, we could also see things like matrix LED headlight technology – the Sportage now offers this in Europe.

The current fourth-generation Kia Sorento launched globally in 2020, and offers a range of powertrains depending on market.

Australia is one of the few markets where a naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V6 is offered, with other markets offering both naturally aspirated and turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engines.

The Australian-market Sorento is also available with a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine, as well as turbocharged 1.6-litre hybrid and plug-in hybrid four-cylinder powertrains.

Given the diesel is sold in Europe, it could be in line to get a 48V mild-hybrid system as we’ve seen in other Kia models in the region. It’s unclear whether this tech would make it to Australia.

MORE: Everything Kia Sorento

Jack Quick

Jack Quick is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne. Jack studied journalism and photography at Deakin University in Burwood, and previously represented the university in dance nationally. In his spare time, he loves to pump Charli XCX and play a bit of Grand Theft Auto. He’s also the proud owner of a blue, manual 2020 Suzuki Jimny.

Buy and Lease
Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers
Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers
Also on CarExpert