New Kia Sorento SUV shown off in European spec

Published: 18 March 2020

► Kia's big Sorento refreshed
► Blocky design with widest grille yet
► More tech than ever

Kia had intended to reveal its new Sorento at the 2020 Geneva motor show, but with the Covid-19 epidemic putting paid to that, it’s chosen instead to launch it separately.

This is the first time we’ve seen a European-spec Sorento, which is the largest car Kia sells over here. Its blocky and assertive design takes inspiration from some of its other global products – particularly the Telluride, a full-sized SUV that’s currently up for top spot in the World Car of the Year awards.

2020 Kia Sorento rear three quarter

The Sorento is a size down from that car but still takes the form of a girthy, seven-seat SUV – aimed at big families, caravan or towing enthusiasts, and those who simply want a lot of metal for significantly less money than you’d spend on a Land Rover Discovery. It’s certainly got plenty of competition, with the in-house rival the Hyundai Santa Fe rubbing shoulders with the Skoda Kodiaq, SEAT Tarraco and SsangYong Rexton.

Looks as if it would be at home stateside…

That’s because the Sorento is a collaborative effort between Kia’s styling teams in Korea, Europe and North America. It’s not a bad-looking thing, from the front anyway – with the widest incarnation yet of Kia’s ‘Tiger Nose’ grille now flowing seamlessly into LED headlamps. It’s an upright and blocky front end, with DRLs and foglights incorporated into the front air intakes.

Round the back it’s more divisive, covered in cuts and slashes and with the oh-so-fashionable addition of its name picked out across the tailgate. The taillights are vertical, like the Telluride’s, and there’s ample chrome all over – from the grille, to the reverse-flash on the C-pillar, to the side skirts and splitters.

2020 Kia Sorento interior

You’ll find a pretty Americanised layout inside, too, with a full-width horizontal slab across the dash and wide centre console. Some markets will get interesting upholstery colours, but Europe will only get black, grey, or two-tone monochrome finishes.

What’s new on the engine front?

A 2.2-litre diesel, identical in displacement to the current car’s sole powertrain but now with an aluminium rather than cast-iron block to save weight. It’s good for 199bhp and 324lb ft, though as yet there’s no performance or economy data to get lukewarm about. It gets a new eight-speed, dual-clutch auto, too.

More interesting is the addition of a hybrid option for the first time. It’s not confirmed whether the UK will get this yet, but we’d certainly hope so to provide an alternative to diesel.

2020 Kia Sorento front three quarter

It pairs a 1.6-litre turbo petrol to a tiny 1.49kWh battery and 59bhp electric motor. Total system output is 226bhp and 258lb ft. That dinky battery pack won’t allow for much all-electric running, but a plug-in hybrid’s also on the way towards the end of 2020.

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Optional all-wheel drive is paired with what Kia calls ‘Terrain Mode’. It’s basically the equivalent of Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, but we doubt the Sorento will give a true off roader much cause for concern.

Any headline tech?

Nothing hugely groundbreaking but plenty for family buyers to get excited about. Top-spec models will get a 12.3-inch digital dashboard and 10.25-infotainment display – the latter runs Kia’s latest connected operating system, which can connect to a companion app as well as pull in live weather, traffic and parking reports.

Two phones can be paired at once via Bluetooth, and Apple Carplay and Android Auto come on all models. And for the most harmonious family road trips possible, there’s a USB charging socket for every one of the Sorento’s seven seats.

2020 Kia Sorento infotainment

You’ll get the usual blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, semi-autonomous lane-keeping aids and autonomous emergency braking – Kia hasn’t said which safety kit, if any, will be optional in the UK. There’s also two particularly clever additions. Safe Exit Assist locks the doors from opening if the vehicle detects an approaching hazard – preventing you from ‘dooring’ a cyclist, for example. There’s also BMW-alike remote parking assist, which will let you guide the Sorento into a tight spot or small garage from outside the car.

When’s it coming, and how much?

It’s arriving before the end of 2020 – at least, that’s the current plan, though the coronavirus crisis could change that. As for cost, it’s fair to expect an increase over the current model’s £30,250 starting price. Kia’s well-known for good value, though, so it might not be a huge step up. We’ll find out more later in the year.

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By Tom Wiltshire

Bauer Automotive staff writer; Cotswoldian, Peugeot enthusiast, SsangYong Turismo apologist

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