It’s all change for Kia’s Sorento off-road flagship. Snapped here undergoing initial towing and endurance tests in Arizona, the next generation Sorento is expected to debut late next year at the Frankfurt motor show, before arriving in the UK at the end of 2009. The next-generation Sorento gets new styling, a chassis overhaul and a range of punchy new turbodiesel engines.
Tell me more about the new Kia Sorento
In a bid to boost its on-road appeal the new Sorento will switch from a ladder-frame chassis to a monocoque set-up, promising sharper driving dynamics and greater body control for a more composed ride. Insiders claim the new Sorento will be much less of a mud-plugger and more of a crossover.
Although Kia is considering a number of drivetrain options for its biggest off-roader, it’s understood the Sorento will stick with its permanent all-wheel-drive layout, with a part-time 4x4 system arriving later in 2010. The switch to a monocoque will impact on the car’s towing abilities (hence the towing tests) which will drop from the current car’s 3500kg to around 2700kg. Still plenty for horseboxes, boats and… ahem… caravans.
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Will the Sorento get new engines too?
Yes. As you’d expect, it’s the diesels that will dominate the European engine line-up. While the Americans will be offered a V8 petrol model – which borrows the 300bhp 3.6-litre V8 from the Hyundai Genesis – the Sorento will arrive with a new family of Euro 5-complaint turbodiesel engines. Specifics are scant at the moment, but expect a big capacity four-cylinder powerplant to arrive first, followed by a bigger V6 turbodiesel in 2010. Manual and automatic transmissions will both have six speeds.
So what lies beneath that black disguise?
While the Sorento will follow the design direction boldly signposted by the Kue concept car that bowed in at 2007's Detroit motor show, it won't follow the concept’s edgy and chiselled lines as closely as the new Sportage – here in 2010 – which insiders claim is a dead ringer for Californian-designed Kue.
This means there will be a few visual links – check out that arrowhead crease that runs from A-pillar along the window line – but the Sorento will stick to a relatively conservative update of its current looks, complete with bluff front end, clamshell bonnet and raked C-pillar.