The updated Sorento is likely to arrive in the US market some time in the spring of calendar 2015 as a 2016 model. The 2015 Sorento is already available at dealers, which is why we speculate about the 2016 model year.
Kia calls this the third-gen Sorento, as Europe is less concerned with model years than we are in the USA.
Overall, the styling update is a big success. It is paired with a new refinement on the road, an all-new cabin, and a much larger third row of seats than before.
The design upgrade really helps keep the Sorento feeling young and competitive. Its previous chassis update only minorly tweaked the headlamps and grille style of the existing model, and was less-than-convincing as an all-new vehicle.
Staying fresh is critical in the Sorento’s market, where new entries like the Nissan Rogue on the low end, the Toyota Highlander in the mid-range and the Acura MDX at the top end are all safely in the competitive set.
Kia has done well with this car, and a thorough revamp for the European market cements Kia as a player in the big crossover segment. Few models as large as the Sorento are available for such attractive pricing — which is often half that of the similarly-sized Audi Q7.
Dynamically, we are excited to report that the new Sorento will come as standard in Europe with the very-good new steering setup from the Sonata Sport here in the US. Called R-MDPS by Kia, the rack-mounted electronic power steering is far, far better than the current model, as explained below….
The system is optional on the 2015 Sonata, where it totally transforms the front end of the car and feels precise and heavy and accurate.
2016 Kia Sorento SXL
2016 Kia Sorento – Euro Spec
The Kia Sorento has the makings of a great SUV – but needs a few extra tweaks to really get to the same levels as its Hyundai Sante Fe cousin.
Those changes required include a fresher and more appealing exterior style, some dynamic tweaks, and a sportier cabin and driving position.
2014 Kia Sorento SX-L
Kia looks set to address all three of these needs in one fell swoop for the all-new 2015 (or perhaps 2016) Kia Sorento. The latest preview for Paris in October shows a far more organic flow to the sheetmetal, a more macho and premium nose, and a sportier tail with a large roof spoiler.
The window-line of the current car looks set to carry forward, which is no bad thing for this seven-seat crossover.
The real appeal of the new Sorento will be a fresh nose – enlivening the current generic-premium face. The current model vaguely resembles assorted SAAB models as well as just about any other quasi-premium brand. The badge could be swapped without much notice to shoppers.
But the latest Kia grille is a deep chain-linked mesh inside a three-dimensional oval ring of brightwork. It has been shown most recently in the new Sedona minivan — but do not hold a minivan style share against it!
2015 Kia Sedona
The new Sorento will also be influenced by the amazing K900. Fingers crossed that the quad-beam LED lights make the jump….!
The new Sedona looks extremely premium and distinctly Kia from the front and front-three-quarter angles. Paired with the racy and low-roof proportions of the next Sorento, Kia is primed to have not just features and price appeal – but new style that pips the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander as well.
2016 Kia Sorento
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Third-generation Kia Sorento set for European premiere at Paris Motor Show 2014
European premiere on 2 October at Paris Motor Show
Sophisticated new design for third-generation Kia Sorento SUV
All-new bodyshell improves ride, handling and crash safety
Improvements to NVH and a step-change in interior quality and design
Range of three improved gasoline and diesel engines for Europe
(SEOUL) September 29, 2014 – The all-new Kia Sorento will make its European premiere in Paris on 2 October, exhibiting a unique blend of style, practicality and technology, which builds on the success of the outgoing model. The new’s SUV’s smoother, swept-back profile and deeply sculpted surfaces introduce a higher level of sophistication for the third-generation model, delivering a premium look and feel, with more space and numerous innovative features.
The designers of the third generation Kia Sorento named their inspiration for the new car as ‘Streetwolf’. Although the styling changes are evolutionary, they subtly alter the character of the new Sorento, highlighting its sleek, sinuous, profile, while creating a sophisticated appearance and ensuring the new model has a bolder on-the-road presence.
The front of the new Sorento incorporates long, wrap-around headlamps and more prominent fog-lamps, as well as a larger, more upright ‘tiger-nose’ grille, with a distinctive three-dimensional diamond pattern, first featured on the 2013 Kia Cross GT concept.
In profile, the new model retains the Sorento’s hallmark long bonnet and characteristic wide D-pillar, but a lower roofline, higher beltline and swept-back shape give the car a more dramatic, muscular stance.
The rear of the car features more prominent ‘shoulders’ and a highly sculpted registration plate surround. The latter is made possible by the introduction of new laser welding manufacturing techniques – a first for a Kia model – which renders weld lines invisible, meaning the Sorento can do without the traditional (joint-masking) garnish on the tailgate.
The sleeker look of the new Sorento is enhanced by its increased length (+95 mm to 4,780 mm)*, reduced height (down 15 mm to 1,685 mm) and extra width (+5 mm to 1,890 mm).
The exterior styling of the new car was led by Kia’s Namyang design studio in Korea, with significant input from the brand’s Frankfurt, Germany and Irvine, California design studios.
‘Modern and wide’ theme for interior styling
Inside the all-new Sorento is where some of the most significant improvements are to be found. Interior styling was led by the brand’s European design team, based in Frankfurt, and Kia’s designers have created a more sophisticated, more luxurious cabin, featuring significantly higher quality materials.
The styling of the cabin follows a ‘modern and wide’ theme, providing the interior with a stable, horizontal layout and appearance. This width is echoed in the wider instrument cluster, interior garnish and the wrap-around shape of the dashboard which extends into the door trims. A higher proportion of soft-touch materials and leather creates a modern luxury feel to the cabin and gives the new Sorento a genuine premium vehicle ambience.
One of the most distinctive interior styling features is the Swiss watch-inspired user interface, which incorporates Kia’s latest HMI (human-machine interface) technologies, surrounded by new silver-look border.
The flowing contours of the dashboard rise to incorporate the driver’s instrument binnacle, while the smoothly-styled design curve in the doors, which leads from the audio speakers up to the SUV-style grab handles, also endows the cabin with a more luxurious, sophisticated appearance.
Customers will be able to specify the interior in either single-tone (black) or two-tone (black and stone beige) colour schemes with cloth or leather trim. Additionally, brown or light gray colour schemes in leather trim will be offered as an option.
Comfort, convenience and new technologies
Compared to the previous-generation model, the increased exterior dimensions and the extended wheelbase (+80 mm to 2,780 mm) have liberated additional space in the cabin of the new car.
Although the roofline is 15 mm lower, repositioned seat cushions ensure increased headroom for occupants in all three rows, who will also enjoy greater legroom. Cargo space also increases, with a longer cargo bay floor (up by 87 mm), and capacity with the third row seats folded flat up 17.5 percent, from 515 to 605 litres (VDA). The new Sorento also features a new under-floor tonneau cover storage compartment.
Available in 5- or 7-seat versions, the new Sorento features 40/20/40 second row split folding for improved versatility, with a higher folding centre armrest. The second row seats of the 7-seat version are equipped with ‘remote folding’ controlled by two levers in the side of the cargo bay, and also slide to allow easier entry and exit to the third row of seats.
The new Sorento debuts a number of new, advanced on-board technologies to improve convenience and further enhance the ownership experience. Depending on market, new available features will include: an Around-View Monitor, with four cameras helping the driver to manoeuvre when parking by displaying a birds-eye view of the vehicle on the dashboard display screen, and a Smart Power Tailgate. This system opens the tailgate automatically when the key is ‘sensed’ in close proximity to the trunk, so owners can slide their shopping bags or heavy objects straight into the vehicle.
Throughout the development of the new Sorento, Kia engineers also focused on strengthening the bodyshell structure and improving NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) characteristics to increase refinement and create a tranquil travelling environment that is as sophisticated as the new model’s styling.
The increased torsional rigidity of the new bodyshell (up by 14 percent compared to the outgoing model) provides an excellent foundation for both enhanced refinement and improved safety.
NVH-reducing measures adopted for the new Sorento include new soundproofing material for the transmission tunnel, a 29 percent thicker dashboard soundproofing panel (increased from 0.7 mm to 0.9 mm), larger engine and transmission mounts for greater powertrain refinement and, for diesel models, a new DPF cover and an acoustic shield integrated into the engine’s timing chain cover. Cabin noise is reduced by 3-to-6 percent, depending on driving conditions.
Improved powertrains, ride and handling
To match consumers’ rising expectations, Kia engineers worked to improve every aspect of the new Sorento’s driving experience, creating upgrades for the engines, steering and suspension.
Three engines are available with the new Sorento, offering power outputs ranging from 185 to 200 ps. These include a 2.4-litre gasoline direct injection (GDI) unit, and two turbo-diesel engines, in 2.0-litre and 2.2-litre capacities, which are expected to account for the majority of European sales.
When developing the new Sorento, a key focus for the Kia chassis engineering team was achieving improvements in ride comfort, high-speed stability and handling response to match the leaps forward in interior quality and NVH.
The fully-independent suspension retains the format of the outgoing model (MacPherson struts at the front and Kia’s multi-link system at the rear), but features a range of modifications. At the rear, the subframe supporting the suspension has larger bushings to better isolate it from the cabin and the larger shock absorbers are now mounted vertically behind the axle line, improving body control motion.
These changes, together with the longer wheelbase, deliver a more compliant ride, with a more progressive response to bumps in the road, making the new Sorento a very comfortable place in which to spend time on longer journeys.
At the front, an all-new electric motor-driven power steering system (R-MDPS), available as standard across Europe, is mounted directly onto the steering rack – rather than the steering column as on the outgoing model. This provides greater steering feel and quicker response, ensuring that new Sorento will be among the more agile and sporty vehicles in its segment, without sacrificing the ride quality that customers expect from a luxurious SUV.
Better passive and active safety
The structure of the new Sorento is significantly stronger, thanks in large part to the more widespread use of ultra-high tensile steel. The previous-generation model was made up of 24.4 percent ultra-high tensile steel (UHTS), while the bodyshell of the new model consists of 52.7 percent UHTS, aiding the integrity of the car’s core structure in the event of an impact and also improving torsional rigidity. The stronger steel has been used to reinforce the wheel arches, tailgate surround and rear-wheel surround.
The new Sorento also features more than twice as much ultra-strong hot-stamped steel as the outgoing model, up from 4.1 percent to 10.1 percent in the new model, greatly strengthening the A- and B-pillars.
Buyers of the new Sorento will be able to choose from a wealth of ‘active’ safety technologies – depending on market. Available systems will include: ASCC (Adaptive Smart Cruise Control); LDWS (Lane Departure Warning System), which emits an audible alert when the driver strays from the chosen lane without using indicators;; BSD (Blind-Spot Detection), with a visual warning in the door mirror when another car is in the driver’s blind spot; RCTA (Rear Cross-Traffic Alert), which warns against other cars driving behind the Sorento in car parks; and SLIF (Speed Limit Information Function), which displays the speed limit in the driver’s instrument cluster based on cameras detecting roadside signs.
* Vehicle features, specifications and engine line-up are for the European model.
About Kia Motors Corporation
Kia Motors Corporation (www.kia.com) – a maker of quality vehicles for the young-at-heart – was founded in 1944 and is Korea’s oldest manufacturer of motor vehicles. Over 2.7 million Kia vehicles a year are produced in 10 manufacturing and assembly operations in five countries which are then sold and serviced through a network of distributors and dealers covering around 150 countries. Kia today has around 48,000 employees worldwide and annual revenues of over US$43 billion. It is the major sponsor of the Australian Open and an official automotive partner of FIFA – the governing body of the FIFA World Cup™. Kia Motors Corporation’s brand slogan – “The Power to Surprise” – represents the company’s global commitment to surprise the world by providing exciting and inspiring experiences that go beyond expectations.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.