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The Striking New 2021 Kia Sorento SUV

Art Michalik

For the midsize 2021 Sorento SUV, Kia has distilled all of the popular full-size Telluride’s goodness into a fun-size package.

Making a Best-Seller Better

2021 Kia Sorento - kia.com

2021 Kia Sorento – kia.com  |  Shop new Kia Sorento on Carsforsale.com

The Sorento is an essential model for carmaker Kia, having sold 1.5 million examples since its 2002 introduction. The Sorento is also Kia’s most popular seller and one of the most recognized model names in their lineup. So, when it’s time to replace a Sorento, Kia has to get it right. By all appearance, they did just that with the all-new 2021 Sorento mid-size SUV.

Why Mess With Success?

2021 Kia Sorento - kia.com
2021 Kia Sorento - kia.com

With a hit on its hand with the midsize Kia Telluride, why wouldn’t the company want to capitalize on its success in the Sorento design? After all, the interiors and exteriors of both were designed in Kia’s studio in Southern California.

2021 Kia Sorento - kia.com
2021 Kia Sorento - kia.com

According to Kia, the new Sorento features “crisp lines, bold fascias and distinctive details combine with an interior that exudes rugged elegance.” Elements the company points to include the modernized wide grille extending into the headlight and hood structure, hood edges that wrap around the body side, and other elements to deliver a “muscular and athletic profile.”

An Interior That’s a Step Above

Part of the success of the Telluride is its premium interior at a not-so-premium price. Kia was smart to clone that success with the new three-row Sorento. The roomy (best-in-class), comfortable interior of the Sorento is available with high-quality materials like wood inlays and embossed leather with subtle ambient lighting. The interior is configurable with either a second-row bench seat or with two captains’ chairs.


2021 Kia Sorento infotainment - kia.com
2021 Kia Sorento infotainment - kia.com

Primary access to the infotainment system is through a seven-inch UVO play touchscreen interface, though Kia has taken the belts-and-suspenders approach by including traditional buttons as well. Through either interface, drivers can access terrestrial radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, while several popular apps are preinstalled. Audio files on your smartphone can also be accessed through either the 3.5 mm auxiliary audio jack or through one of two USB ports. Music then comes out on the other side through a standard six-speaker audio system.

2021 Kia Sorento dash - kia.com
2021 Kia Sorento dash - kia.com

While two additional USB charging ports come with the LX trim, the big upgrades come in the top-level SX trim. The SX sound system features a Harmon Kardon ten-speaker audio system (with subwoofer), while the touchscreen increases by about 30%. Navigation is added to the software suite, and a wireless charging pad is available.

Two Gas Direct Injected Engines, Two Hybrids

2021 Kia Sorento 2.5L Turbo I4 engine - kia.com
2021 Kia Sorento 2.5L Turbo I4 engine - kia.com

While there’s no V6 among available engines, there is a choice of three four-cylinder motors. The base 2.5-liter four-cylinder delivers 191 horsepower, driving through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Unlike some of its competitors who make you step up from the base model to get AWD, both FWD and AWD are available on the base Sorento. An optional turbocharged 2.5 L engine bumps power to 281 horsepower, powering through a new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission in both FWD and AWD.

Chevy Blazer Through the Years

Kia also plans to offer the 2021 Sorento a hybrid powertrain option. The FWD-only standard hybrid combines a 1.6 L four-cylinder turbo engine and a 44 kW electric motor, which combined produce 227 horsepower and deliver an estimated 39/35/37 mpg EPA city/highway/combined rating. An AWD plug-in hybrid version combines a larger 66.9 kW electric motor for a total output of 261 horsepower, and the advantage of a 620-mile total and a 30-mile electric-only range is set to launch for the 2022 model year.

All powertrains include a 10 year/100,000 mile limited warranty.

Some Light Off-Roading?

2021 Kia Sorento - kia.com
2021 Kia Sorento - kia.com

For those destined to drive the road not taken, the new X-Line trim features a 1.0-inch higher ground clearance, improved approach/departure angles, torque-on-demand AWD with center-locking differential, and downhill descent control. Wheels are upgraded to 20-inch alloys. It comes topped off with a more robust roof rack than the outgoing Sorento.


The 2021 Kia Sorento offers additional standard Advanced Driving Assistance functions, including Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning, and Rear Occupant Alert. In total, the 2021 Sorento there are 16 “Kia Drive Wise” Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems that are either standard or available options.


The 2021 Kia Sorento is set to do battle against other mid-size SUVs like the Nissan Murano, Honda Passport and Chevrolet Traverse. With its contemporary exterior design, premium interior, advanced infotainment and safety features, along with several engine options, the Sorento appears ready to take on its segment.

2021 Kia Sorentos - kia.com

2021 Kia Sorentos – kia.com  |  Shop new Kia Sorento on Carsforsale.com

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Art Michalik
Art Michalik

Art Michalik brings a career full of experience in the automotive industry to his writing. He has guided marketing at two major tire companies, represented some of the biggest names in the automotive aftermarket at an ad agency, built the enthusiast social media presence at a major online retailer and even managed one of the most famous racing schools in the world.

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