An all-new platform for the 2021 Kia Sorento permits new hybrid powertrain options. (Kia)

Turbocharged hybrid: 2021 Kia Sorento revealed

An all-new platform and unique hybrid powertrains for Kia’s mid-size SUV.

Kia has revealed its 2021 Kia Sorento, an all-new version of its popular 3-row, 5-door mid-size SUV. This is the fourth generation of the Sorento, which was first introduced in 2002, and the latest iteration is built atop the Hyundai/Kia N3 platform underpinning the new Kia K5 and Hyundai Sonata sedans. The new SUV will eventually feature four powertrains, including turbocharged hybrid and plug-in hybrid options, providing what Kia claims will be the best estimated fuel efficiency (37 mpg combined) for a 3-row SUV.

According to Kia, compared to the previous version, the all-new 3rd generation N3 platform provides the Sorento with a 1.4-in (36-mm) longer wheelbase, along with reductions in body-in-white (5.6%) and overall weight (3.1%, or 119 lb/54 kg). Kia claims the platform’s average tensile strength has improved 4%, along with the distribution of kinetic impact forces and NVH characteristics. The new platform also accommodates the hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains.

The 2021 Sorento will be offered in five trims with either front-wheel drive (FWD) or torque-vectoring all-wheel drive (AWD), including a new adventure-focused X-Line package. The X-Line trim will feature a torque-on-demand AWD setup with a locking center differential, an extra inch of ground clearance (8.3 in/211 mm), improved approach/departure angles, descent control and a reinforced bridge-type roof rack.

Three powertrains will be available at launch, with the plug-in hybrid expected to become available in MY2022. The base engine on the 2021 Sorento will be a direct-injected 2.5-L 4-cylinder (191 hp/142 kW; 182 lb-ft/247 Nm) paired to an 8-speed automatic. An optional turbocharged GDI 2.5-L 4-cylinder (281 hp/210 kW; 311 lb-ft/422 Nm) will be mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch automated transmission, providing 3,500 lb (1,588 kg) of towing capacity along with a claimed 3-mpg increase in EPA combined fuel efficiency versus the previous Sorento V6.

The FWD-only hybrid Sorento makes use of a turbocharged 1.6-L GDI 4-cylinder combined with a 44-kW electric motor and 5-kWh battery mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The combination is estimated by Kia to produce 227 hp (169 kW) and provide the model’s highest estimated EPA fuel efficiency ratings (39 city/35 hwy/37 combined). The AWD plug-in-hybrid version expected in the next model year will use the same transmission and gasoline turbo engine, paired with a 70-kW electric motor and 8-kWh battery, to produce 261 hp (195 kW) and an estimated 30-mile (48-km) all-electric range.

The 2021 Sorento’s all-new interior is available with second-row captain’s chairs permitting 4+2 or 5+2 seating. A clever feature of the available 12.3-in digital gauge cluster is a Blind View Monitor activated by the turn signal (similar to Honda’s LaneWatch), which projects a live view of adjacent lanes into the circular space normally occupied by the virtual tachometer.

A host of family-focused safety and convenience features will be available on the new Sorento, including: 8 USB charging ports; a new multi-connection Bluetooth that allows pairing two phones simultaneously; Amazon-Alexa or Google-Assistant remote start functionality; a rear-occupancy alert that can send push notifications if movement is detected inside the vehicle; a find-my-car feature that uses the vehicle cameras to capture and send an image of the vehicle’s surroundings; and a safe-exit function that can alert passengers and lock the rear doors if approaching traffic is detected.

No pricing was announced at the reveal, but the Sorento is expected to go on sale before the end of the year. The Sorento will be assembled at the Kia Motor Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) facility in West Point, Georgia, Kia’s sole manufacturing location in the U.S., which also assembles the Telluride SUV and K5 sedan.

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