After the Kia Telluride stole the lion’s share of the headlines in 2019 with its splashy, stylish debut, I surmised that it might signal the end of the road for the Kia Sorento. It’s not that the Sorento was bad; I reviewed the updated 2019 model and found it to be a “thoroughly easy-to-use and easy-to-like family vehicle.” The bigger issue is that the Telluride was so much better — and roughly the same price.
Well, it seems that I was wrong. The Sorento is not only still alive, it’s punching back in a big way. The 2021 Sorento has been redesigned and is set to make its international debut in March at the 2020 Geneva International Motor Show. Where the Telluride zigs, the Sorento zags, eschewing its larger sibling’s rugged vibe for something more sleek and modern. If the Telluride looks more at home in a field slinging mud, the Sorento’s place is in an urban environment among glass-and-steel skyscrapers. Its smaller footprint will also make it a bit easier for folks who live in or have to park in cities, where every inch can matter.
Kia has released another set of images (illustrations, really) that tell us a bit more about what to expect from the Sorento, including our first look at the SUV’s interior. The multimedia screen is immediately familiar, which is no surprise: The 10.25-inch touchscreen that currently resides in the Telluride and forthcoming 2021 Seltos (look for the full report on our first drive of that vehicle soon) looks to make its way into the Sorento, as well. Also note the absence of a traditional gear lever, replaced here by a rotary dial. This is roughly similar to the setup seen in the Hyundai Palisade, which opened a large storage space below it that front occupants can access. That appears to be the case here, too.
Behind that, there appears to be another feature nicked from the Telluride: a Drive/Terrain button to cycle between the various drive modes and terrain surfaces the Sorento might be traveling over. We would also hope that the all-wheel-drive system with a locking center differential will continue to live in the Sorento.
If the 2021 Sorento’s updates do the trick and elevate it to the level of the Telluride, that will more than justify its continued existence and give consumers an additional option. It’s even going to return with a hybrid model that can hopefully give the Toyota Highlander Hybrid some needed competition.
Rumors of the Sorento’s demise seem to have been greatly exaggerated (my bad).
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