2021 Kia Sorento: Design, Powertrains & Everything Else We Know About The Midsize SUV

Kia’s Telluride might be the talk of the town right now as the South Korean carmaker’s biggest SUV, but the bigger news might just be its smaller, mid-sized crossover offering, the all-new 2021 Sorento.

About to enter its fourth-generation, the Sorento (codenamed MQ4) aims to add a lot more spice to an increasingly competitive segment. We take an illustrated preview at what to expect from Kia’s redesigned Explorer rival.

Athletic Aesthetics

While the current car has a conservative design compared to the chiseled appearance of the 2nd-generation Sorento, Kia’s styling game is arguably back on-point. This means the all-new Sorento exudes the same expressive design ethos as seen in its Soul, Seltos, and Telluride siblings.

Take frontal styling for instance; it adopts a chrome-framed adaptation of Kia’s Tiger Nose grille, with brightwork wrapping around slim LED headlights, leading deep into the front fenders to emphasize its stance. The sculptured front fascia is also joined by taut side pressings, and a unique rear quarter window fin also used on ProCeed sport wagon.

Photo Renderings Copyright Carscoops / Josh Byrnes

The view from the rear is muscular in a Range Rover Sport type of way, with rakish rear pillars (a hallmark from previous Sorento iterations), a chiseled tailgate spoiler and large diffuser panel.

A Nicer Place To Be Inside

The Sorento is no means a bad place to spend time, however it’s showing its age on the design and technology front. Luckily, the interior is set for a major overhaul – and following in the footsteps of Telluride. It’s going to be a tech-laden, high-quality affair.

Third-row occupants will benefit from an increase in legroom and a pair of USB ports, whilst the front and second-row chairs gain heating and ventilation functionality. A large infotainment screen dominates the dash and incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

2020 Kia Telluride-36

2020 Kia Telluride interior pictured above

Other goodies consist of a heads-up display, wireless smartphone charging, and multi-Bluetooth wireless connectivity. Expect a plethora of driving aids like smart cruise control with Stop & Go, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and safe-exit assist (SEA) which prevents occupants from exiting the vehicle into rear-approaching traffic.

Power to the people

We anticipate a variety of powertrains will be offered, ranging from a 2.4-litre GDI inline-four, 2.0-litre turbocharged four, a 2.2-litre CRDI diesel, and a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder hybrid borrowed from the latest Hyundai Sonata.

There’s conjecture surrounding a range-topping variant with a potent 3.8-litre GDI V6, with 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque – whether this comes to fruition remains to be seen (fingers crossed).

Power will be fed to the front wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission or to all four, through an active on-demand all-wheel-drive system with multiple drive modes.

Alternatives & Launch Timing

The redesigned Sorento will battle against some seriously worthy competition trying to part you from your money.

The alternatives (depending on the market, of course) include the likes of Mazda’s beautifully-appointed CX-9, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Skoda Kodiaq, GMC Acadia, Dodge Durango, Toyota Highlander, Nissan Murano and close cousin – the Hyundai Santa Fe.

Expect the all-new Sorento to officially bow in the coming months, with sales starting early next year.

Lastly, would you consider the Sorento over the competition? Tell us in the comments below.

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  • boo boo the fool

    we have a 2016 Sorento sxl but the design has really aged. This one is much better

  • boo boo the fool

    wouldn’t it be the Ford Edge instead of the Explorer? considering the Telluride isn’t even as big as the explorer

    • charlotteharry57

      You’re right. This competes with the Edge, BUT, pre-Telluride, Kia added a third row seat as standard, so it effectively competed with the Explorer for a bit.

      • bd0007

        Not really – there are markets where the Santa Fe comes w/ a 3rd row, much less the CR-V.

        Doesn’t make them any less a “tweener” (smaller) midsize and compact CUVs, respectively.


          CX-9 larger than the Telluride? No sir

          • bd0007

            The CX-9 may not be larger inside (due to inefficient packaging), but it is LONGER than the Telluride.

            CX-9 – 199.8″

            Telluride – 196.9″

          • A 🤴🏻 THAT WILL RULE OVER YOU

            What does that even mean? LMFAO 🤣🤣😭😭

  • thejohnnycanuck

    My son bought a new Sorento this year (V6 AWD) and loves it. This new one looks good, especially the front clip.

    It’s an important model for Kia. I’m sure they’d like nothing better than to see it inch closer to the top dogs in the segment.

  • TheToadPrince.$€$

    same interior with a ford and acura look to it……boring

  • charlotteharry57

    My neighbors bought a bare-bones (nearly) LX back in ’15 as an early-release ’16. It’s been flawless. I think this render makes it a bit less attractive, but the big win for Kia with this one will be a huge price hike. The $26K sticker is what drove the neighbors to Kia, but it’ll be $5K higher with this one. Just watch.

    • boo boo the fool

      no bc thats Telluride range

    • chris

      I say it’ll be $2K higher starting

  • Don’tBeSoStupid

    I really dig the Acura headlights, nice touch.

  • jshen

    I would in no way buy this vehicle unless it had a substantial engine change such as the 3.8 or the 3.3 Turbo. As it stands right now it will not get out of its own way on the highway.

    • bd0007

      Pretty much every auto publication has been wrong/ignorant of the upcoming engines in the new Kia (or Hyundai or Genesis) models.

      The base engine will be the new 2.5 NA 4 cyl and the upgrade engine, the turbo variant of the 2.5 mill.

      Remains to be seen if Kia includes a V6 in the engine lineup, but kinda doubt it as the 2.5T will have similar HP and more torque than the 3.8L V6.

  • Alduin

    That doesn’t look good.


      From PoliticScoop

  • marioGTI

    Looks great!

  • klowik

    I think the front grille looks worse than the current one, a bit of step-back in design.

  • disqus_9DIYTVuj54

    As a current Sorento owner, I’ll keep mine until the KIA offers a BEV.

  • Baeyoung ❂

    Take Tiger Nose to the next level but I hate that piece of C-pillar plastic

  • TypicalGeek

    Not a fan of more gears, but 10 Speed is way better than 8 Speed.

  • Harry_Wild

    AS long as Hyundai offers a decent engine, I am happy! Looking for a turbo V6 with 350 hp snd 400 ft. lbs. of torque. Hate driving these high pitch super slow vehicles that are offer now for sale that have 0-60 times in the 9-10 second range. It a hazard in driving the highways it so slow.

  • WalthamDan

    The Sorento has been one vehicle Kia has designed well for years including the very regular updates that keep it fresh. This new one looks like it will continue the formula.

  • Maykel

    I wonder if this will be just a big 5 seater or 5+2? Anyhow give it a hybrid powertrain.

  • CJR

    As a current owner of a 2016 Sorento sx+, I would definitely consider a 2021 Sorento

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