Bold frontal styling incorporates Kia's new 'signature grille' that blends seamlessly into the new Sorento's four-light, black bezel wrap-around headlamps. The profile's rising upper belt-line and the dynamic bevel treatment beneath the greenhouse plus the unique trapezoid C-Pillar adds tension and endows new Sorento with a unique appearance. Extending the rear window to the outer edges of the simply styled tailgate hints at the spacious cabin and the large tail lamps enhance the sporty appearance.
During the development of the new Sorento, Kia engineers ditched the body-on-frame structure and designed an all-new unitary (monocoque) bodyshell with room for up to seven occupants.
The new, longer bodyshell created for the new Sorento, with its repositioned A-pillars and dashboard (moved forwards) and extended tailgate (moved rearwards), ensures that the cabin is much more spacious than the current model. The real and perceived quality of the cabin is greatly enhanced and available high-tech features will include: keyless entry, engine start button, reversing safety camera, built-in sat-nav and panoramic glass sunroof.
The thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel is becoming a Kia trademark feature and through it the driver can view another element of Kia's developing design DNA – the 'three-cylinder' instrument cluster. Similar to the cluster fitted to the latest version of Magentis and the recently-launched Kia Soul, the new Sorento's cluster has clear and precise graphics.
Depending on the model, new Sorento will be equipped with a six, eight or 10-speaker audio system, with MP3 and iPod connectivity, plus built-in or external amplifier and a new sat-nav system with a 6.5-inch screen. Remote controls for the audio system are mounted on the steering wheel.
Kia's all-new Sorento will be manufactured with up to four different engines to meet the needs of motorists in every region of the globe. For the Korean market, Kia is offering the new Sorento with three engines, including a version of its 2.7-litre V6 engine running on low-cost LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) called the 'Mu LPI'. This unit delivers 165 ps and 244 Nm – the reduced outputs are a consequence of using LPG which contains 25% less 'stored energy'. New Sorento will also be available in the Korean market with the four-cylinder 2.4-litre Theta II petrol engine that delivers 175 ps and 225 Nm, as well as the new four-cylinder R2.2 diesel engine.
New Sorento buyers will be offered a wide choice of transmissions and drivetrains – depending on model. Five-speed and six-speed manual and automatic transmissions will be offered. Both six-speed transmissions are new or upgraded.
Kia's all-new six-speed automatic transmission is a regular 'torque converter' automatic, but it incorporates a unique 'flat' torque converter, which allows the unit to be 54 mm shorter, has 62 fewer parts (than a five-speed unit), weighs 12 kgs less and boosts fuel economy by up to 12per cent over a traditional automatic transmission.
New Sorento buyers can select from two advanced drivetrains to 'best-match' the on-road and off-road abilities of their new Kia vehicle to their lifestyle. The 2WD drivetrain offers lower weight and enhanced fuel economy, while the 4WD drivetrain will be meant for buyers who regularly face difficult driving conditions, tow trailers (weighing up to 2,500 kilos, depending on model) or go off-road.
Traction is also boosted by the available HAC (Hill-start Assist Control) which prevents the vehicle slipping backwards, and DBC (Down-hill Brake Control) that limits vehicle speed to just 5 mph on steep declines.
New Sorento presents buyers with a range of safety systems and equipment as standard or as options – depending on market. Active safety technologies that buyers can specify include ESC, HAC, DBC, TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) and RPAS (Rear Parking Assist System), plus several systems to boost braking performance during extreme conditions.
Reversing is made even safer by a new Kia Reversing Safety Camera mounted on the tailgate. This camera is fitted with a 130 degree wide-angle lens and transmits images to a 3.5-inch LCD display panel set within the cabin's rear view mirror whenever reverse gear is selected.
The new Sorento is not expected to reach the UK market until 2010.