We’ve been waiting to see what Kia might have in store for the next version of its global SUV flagship and, no, we’re not talking about the new Telluride but the smaller Sorento.
Set to make its debut at the Geneva International Auto Show next month, the fourth-generation, 2020 Kia Sorento undergoes a complete makeover that starts with an all-new midsize SUV platform – Sorento is the first Kia to adopt the flexible architecture that will underpin a range of future products.
Equally significant, the 2020 Sorento will be the first version of the popular utility vehicle to get a hybrid powertrain option. That should come as no surprise, however, considering the aggressive electrification plans announced last year by parent Hyundai Motor Group.
First introduced in 2002 as a compact crossover, the Sorento was upsized in 2009 and has continued to evolve since then, reflecting the overall move by the Kia marque. Once positioned as a bargain brand, it has been shifting into something more refined and mainstream, a move enhanced by the bigger Telluride model’s win last month as North American Utility Vehicle of the Year.
For now, Kia is offering only a handful of teaser images ahead of the 2020 Sorento’s debut in Geneva. But relying on these and a series of undisguised spy shots that have been captured in recent weeks we’ve gotten a good sense of what to expect.
From a styling standpoint, the 2020 model doesn’t break new ground, picking up on the basic look of the outgoing Sorento. That said, it’s a bit crisper and more distinctive, with a new, larger take on the familiar Kia “tiger nose” grille, framed by triple beam LED lamps. A strong character line runs virtually the entire length of the SUV, wrapping into a more upscale looking rear end featuring new, twin-bar vertical lamps.
We’ll have to wait for a better look at the cabin though, if the Telluride and other recent Kia offerings are any indication, we expect to see the Korean carmaker continue moving up-market, with a richer use of materials, more soft-touch points and an upgraded infotainment system with a larger screen.
Kia hints that it will be “applying a range of innovations to the new Sorento, including advanced driver assistance systems and progressive connectivity and infotainment features.” Again, in line with what we’re seeing on other models look for features like forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, blind spot alert and more Many of those should come standard, as well.
In terms of powertrains, expect more than a few options, though that will vary by market. That includes turbo-2.0-liter and 2.5-liter packages, as well as a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter inline-four. Some markets will get a pair of diesel options. U.S. versions of the 2020 Sorento are expected to be offered with a conventional hybrid option and there has been speculation that a plug-in hybrid may also be in the cards.
As with the existing Sorento, front and all-wheel-drive will be available. Some recent spy shots featured an AWD badge, so that appears to be on the checklist, as well.
There had been some speculation that the Korean version of the 2020 Kia Sorento might be introduced mid-month. But, according to Kia, we’ll all have to wait for the global reveal on March 3, at Geneva’s PALExpo convention center.
As to the idea that Kia calls the Sorento it’s “flagship SUV,” that might confuse some folks considering the new Telluride is bigger, more lavishly equipped – and more expensive. True, but 3 million copies of the Sorento have been sold since it first came on the scene, so who are we to quibble?