Kia is already working on the next-gen Sorrento

The Kia Sorrento started out life as a body-on-frame SUV for the 2002 model year. 2010 ushered in a new generation with a healthy redesign, including a new platform with a unibody architecture. As far as current standards go, the second generation Sorrento wasn’t as lackluster as the first, but it only took four years for the next generation Sorrento to make its world debut. We first laid eyes on it at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, and it went on sale for the 2015 model year. The current Sorrento is the best one so far with stylish styling outside and a rather luxurious interior for a Kia.

Considering the visually pleasing design of the current Sorrento – plus the fact that it is only a couple years old – it comes as a bit of a surprise that our photographers have managed to catch shots of what appears to be a newly-designed Sorrento sitting on the back of a transport truck. Right away, we can see that the model in question is already under pretty heavy camo, but this mule was apparently playing pretty hard in the snow, so the front end is heavily covered in snow and ice – further disrupting our view of what changes may lie underneath.

Normally, we would consider this as a potential facelift since the current generation is so new, but we’ve noticed that the model in these photos has a new code name. Kia tends to use the same codename for facelifted models, so the fact that this one has a new code name reinforces the idea that this may be a whole new design yet again. Its actual debut is most likely a few years away, but it should make it world debut sometime between 2018 and 2020, which would put it right on track with Kia’s traditional strategy.

With that said, let’s take a look at these new spy shots and see if we can make out anything of the new design under all that heavy camo and snow cover. If nothing else, we can at least speculate a little until we get pictures from the next round of testing.

Continue reading for the full review

Spy Shots

March 14, 2016 - Facelift Kia Sorento caught on a transport truck

2018 Kia Sorento Exterior Spyshots
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2018 Kia Sorento Exterior Spyshots
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2018 Kia Sorento Exterior Spyshots
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Exterior

All the padding applied to the exterior makes it hard enough to spot any changes to the body. Someone must have had a lot of fun playing in the snow, though, and they certainly didn’t do us any favors, as that snow cover hampers our view even more. From the look of things, the front end is probably sporting redesigned headlights, a slightly different grille, different fog light assemblies in the corners of the fascia, and a reshaped air dam. We can see the grille behind the camo has a honeycomb shape to it, which is quite different compared to the current model, but with this model being so early in the testing phases, it may not be complete under that camo. The padding on the fenders and the hood also point to redesigned wheel arches and a redesigned hood.

The padding on the fenders and the hood also point to redesigned wheel arches and a redesigned hood.

To the sides, there is padding over the doors, and even thicker padding behind the rear doors, indicating that is where most of the changes will be. Expect to see different body styling on the doors, between the wheel arches, and redesigned side view mirror housings. To the rear, all the padding points to a redesigned stationary window behind the rear doors, which will likely be a bit larger than on the current model. The new glass will also lead to a different look leading up to the rear hatch.

It is rather hard to get a good view of the rear end with the vehicle on the transport truck and all, but it does look like the taillights will be significantly different. It looks like the reverse lights will start on the rear hatch and carry over to the rear-quarter-mounted light assemblies, just like on the current model. The change here, however, is that it doesn’t appear as if the taillights will wrap around as much as they do on the current model and they probably won’t come to a point on the rear quarters either. There is still a rear overhang on the hatch, but the high-mount brake light looks to sit on the lower side of the overhang.

Interior

Our photographer was able to get up close and personal with the window tags indication the new code name and that this is a 2016 Sweden winter test model. Adding a bit of humor to that specific shot, you can also see the notice that says photography is prohibited. Unfortunately, the photographer didn’t manage to shoot anything of the interior, so at this point, it is a complete mystery. It’s likely that the interior isn’t completely finished in this mule, but it would have been interesting to see what was going on in there anyway.

Rumor has it that the interior may take on more luxurious appointments, and may have some design cues from the 2016 Kia Mohave that is currently running the streets in other markets. Hopefully, that means we’ll see wood grain inserts on the door trim, dash and steering wheel, but hopefully, Kia will leave that square center stack, cheap-looking trim, and lackluster instrument cluster in Korea. With any luck, we’ll see a combination of the wood grain appointments integrated with the interior design of the current Sorrento.

Drivetrain

2018 Kia Sorento Exterior Spyshots
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The fact that this model, which would normally be considered a facelift, has a new code name indicates that there are more than just a couple significant changes. This could mean that this model would come with new drivetrain options and updated suspension. Even a new transmission isn’t out of the question. Until we receive further information, however, that is all speculation. At the very least, this model will carry over the current drivetrain configurations of the current model here in the U.S. That means a choice of three different engines.

At the very least, this model will carry over the current drivetrain configurations of the current model here in the U.S.

In current form, the entry-level L trim and the LX trim have a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. The EX and Limited trims have a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The Range-topping Limited V6 trim shares a 3.3-liter V-6 with the SX V6, EX V6, and LX V6 trims. That engine produces 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. All trims come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. This tag on this test mule indicates that it is two-wheel drive, but expect the optional Dynamax All-Wheel Drive system to carry over from the current model along with the optional locking center differential and the torque vectoring cornering control. This options may come in updated form with the debut of the new Sorrento.

I suspect the Sorrento will drop a few pounds, which will also help to increase fuel mileage – if Kia doesn’t have a new range of drivetrains in the works for this model. For what it’s worth the window tag on this mule indicated a 2.0-liter T-GDI with two-wheel drive, which leans toward the new model having at least the turbocharged 2.0.

Prices

With the debut of the next-gen Sorrento at least a couple years away, there is no telling what kind of price range we’ll be looking at. A lot can change in a couple of years, but don’t expect to see pricing fluctuate too much. At the time of this writing, the current Sorrento retails from $25,100 for the entry-level L trim. Prices increase incrementally as you move up the trim range, with the LX coming in at $26,400, the LX V6 at $28,700, the EX at $31,100, the EX V6 at $32,100, the SX V6 at $38,300, the Limited at $39,900 and the range-topping Limited V6 at $41,500. With that kind of price scheduling, expect a price increase of no more than $1,000 across the range of trims.

Model Description Msrp
Sorento L 2.4L I4 FWD - 6 A/T $25,990.00
Sorento LX 2.4L I4 FWD - 6 A/T $27,490.00
Sorento LX 2.4L I4 AWD - 6 A/T $29,290.00
Sorento LX V6 3.3L V6 FWD - 6 A/T $31,290.00
Sorento LX V6 3.3L V6 AWD - 6 A/T $33,090.00
Sorento EX V6 3.3L V6 FWD - 6 A/T $35,590.00
Sorento EX V6 3.3L V6 AWD - 6 A/T $37,390.00
Sorento SX V6 3.3L V6 FWD - 6 A/T $39,990.00
Sorento SX V6 3.3L V6 AWD - 6 A/T $41,790.00
Sorento SX-Limited V6 3.3L V6 FWD - 6 A/T $44,690.00
Sorento SX-Limited V6 3.3L V6 AWD - 6 A/T $46,490.00

Competition

Mazda CX-5

2016 Mazda CX-5 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The CX-5 was released as a brand new model for the 2013 model year, and by 2016 it had already seen its first facelift. This means that by the time the new Kia Sorrento makes its debut, we’ll probably be looking at a new CX-5 as well – that is assuming sales of the CX-5 doesn’t plummet enough to warrant dropping the model altogether. With the crossover market packed full of highly-competitive options, you never know what will happen in the next couple years.

In current form, the CX-5 is offered with a 2.0-liter, SKYACTIV, four-cylinder or 2.5-liter, SKYACTIV, four-cylinder. The 2.0-liter produces 155 horsepower and mates to a six-speed manual transmission. The 2.5-liter mates to a six-speed automatic with manual shift mode and produces 184 horsepower. At the time of this writing, the CX-5 goes for $21,795 in base trim, $25,215 in touring trim, and $28,220 in Grand Touring trim.

Read our full review on the Mazda CX-5 here.

Honda CR-V

2015 - 2016 Honda CR-V High Resolution Exterior
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The CR-V entered its fourth generation for the 2012 model year and saw a mid-cycle refresh for 2015. So, just like the case with the CX-5, we’ll be seeing a new CR-V about the same time the sheet is pulled off of the new Sorrento. When the CR-V went through its mid-cycle refresh, it also came with a new 2.4-liter four-cylinder that pumps out 185 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. With a CVT transmission, the CR-V achieves 27 mpg in the city, 34 on the highway, with a combined overall rating of 29 mpg. At the time of this writing, the CR-V starts out at $23,745 for the LX trim level and climbs to $32,095 for the range-topping Touring trim.

Read our full review on the Honda CR-V here.

Conclusion

2018 Kia Sorento Exterior Spyshots
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It is a bit surprising to see a Sorrento mule testing so soon after the introduction of a new generation, but it goes to show the Kia is on top of its game. With this model already doing testing, With the last generation lasting five years, we normally wouldn’t expect to see the next-gen Sorrento debut until around 2020. But, since we’re seeing a test mule this early after the current generation’s release, it is possible that we’ll see the next generation as soon as 2018. The styling of the current Sorrento was already sporty and luxurious, so it will be interesting to see what Kia has hidden under all this camo. I can’t image the next Sorrento being that much better than the current model, but it wouldn’t be the first time the Korean manufacturer has surprised me.

  • Leave it
    • * Seems to early for a new generation
    • * Too much change could ruin the sporty design

Kia Motors America (KMA) today unveiled the refreshed 2019 Sorento SUV at the Los Angeles International Auto Show. Refined, rugged and roomy, the Sorento remains as capable as ever, but touts a number of visual and feature enhancements, inside and out. Aside from new front and rear fascias, which help achieve a more sophisticated appearance, the cabin is now decidedly more upscale and integrates newly-added technology, including Driver Attention Warning,4 Lane Keep Assist1 and QuantumLogic™ Surround Sound. In addition, the Sorento now pairs its available 3.3-liter V6 with a new 8-speed automatic transmission for an even smoother and more seamless driving experience.

“In the highly-competitive crossover category, the Sorento is a clear example of how world-class design and craftsmanship are executed,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, KMA. “Our popular utility now ups its game even further with enhancements in styling, packaging and content, making it even more attractive to shoppers seeking a premium level 3-row SUV.”

Standard luxury features and amenities continue to be available across five trim levels – L, LX, EX, SX and SXL.

Eye-Catching Exterior

Beautifully proportioned, the Sorento retains its refined and rugged exterior look, which was established when the vehicle underwent a complete redesign for the 2016 model year, and was in many ways inspired by the highly regarded Cross GT concept unveiled in 2013. But a subtle facelift now gives Kia’s popular crossover a tighter, sharper appearance. The revised front-end is headlined by a more artfully detailed radiator grille flanked by a new headlamp configuration, which offers full-LED lighting on upper trims – SX and SXL. The crossover’s familiar ice cube-style foglamps have also been redesigned featuring projection bulbs for EX and SX trims while SXL enjoys the more distinctive LEDs. The Sorento’s front fascia wears a newly sculpted bumper design to achieve a more aggressive overall expression.

The rear fascia of the crossover has also been enhanced with a new bumper design, sleeker taillamps (LED bulbs for EX trim and higher), revised liftgate and a sportier muffler tip. And the Sorento’s muscular body rides atop three newly designed wheels, ranging from 17 to 19 inches, depending on trim level.

Enhanced Cabin

Spacious and sophisticated, the Sorento’s cabin maintains a premium look and feel thanks to an array of upgrades and enhancements, including a new, more tactile steering wheel, new shifter knob and a revised instrument cluster with improved graphics. The makeover also includes alterations to the air vents and the center console design. Although these are minor changes individually, the cumulative effect is a more attractive interior space to be seen, felt and experienced.

In terms of versatility, Sorento offers standard 40/20/40 second-row folding seats and 50/50 third-row folding seats now comes standard on all trims, providing space for up to seven passengers. The seating system is designed to offer optimum comfort and ideal seating positions to fulfill the needs of every occupant. For added luxury, also available are heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, 14-way power driver and 8-way power passenger seats, driver’s seat thigh extension and a 4-way headrest with one-button adjustment. And for 2019, Sorento now offers 2-way powered lumbar support for the front passenger on SX and SXL trims.

The Sorento interior also offers available dual-zone HVAC and panoramic sunroof, as well as available premium Nappa leather trim seating surfaces, similar to those found in Kia’s exciting new sports sedan, the Stinger. Newly available interior/seat colors are Mahogany and Terracotta for the SX and SXL trims, respectively. And updated interior accent trims are standard visual enhancements across all trim levels.

Overall cargo volume accessed through the new rear liftgate is voluminous at 74 cu.-ft., providing an abundance of space for essentials and active-lifestyle equipment without sacrificing rear-passenger room. In addition, an easy-folding lever allows various seating arrangements, flexible luggage space and greater overall versatility.

Tech Savvy SUV

The 2019 Kia Sorento is loaded with technology, including an upgraded AVN 5.0 navigation system5 with Android Auto6 and Apple CarPlay7 offered with higher level trims. The base level L trim gets a standard 7-inch user interface, also equipped with Android Auto2 and Apple CarPlay.3 And to eliminate the need for a charging cord, there’s now an available wireless charging3 tray for compatible Android6 devices, as well as Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone X.8

When it comes to audio technology, the available premium sound system is well suited to Sorento’s upscale atmosphere. The 630-watt, 10-speaker new Harman Kardon® branded stereo system with an 11-channel amplifier features Clari-Fi technology2 and newly integrated QuantumLogic™ Surround Sound technology.2 Clari–Fi works in real-time to rebuild audio details lost in digitally compressed music, while QuantumLogic™ extracts signals from the original recording and redistributes them into an authentic, multidimensional soundstage for playback that is clear, refined and full of detail. Ultimately, the result is a more robust and enjoyable on-road listening experience.

With the Kia App store, select apps9 can be downloaded from iTunes®10 or Google PlaySM11. The Kia App connector is available for partnership with the content community for downloading apps such as Yelp®12, while Soundhound, Pandora®13 and iHeart® Radio14 come preloaded.

On the Road

The spirited front- or all-wheel drive experience is brought to life with a choice of two proven engines, including a 2.4-liter inline-4 GDI or a 3.3-liter V6 GDI. For MY19, the 2.0-liter turbo I-4 will no longer be offered as part of Sorento’s powertrain strategy. However, a new diesel engine with the latest emission controls is currently under development and more information is forthcoming.

The carryover 2.4-liter engine is mated to a revised and more efficient electronically controlled six-speed automatic gearbox featuring Sportmatic® shifting and delivers a capable 185 horsepower. The Sorento’s familiar V6 brings with it a stampede of 290 horses while connecting to a new 8-speed automatic transmission shared with the brand’s Cadenza premium sedan. The result is a noticeably smoother and more seamless interaction between engine and transmission. This pairing also maintains Sorento’s towing capacity at 5,000 lbs when equipped with AWD.

To achieve a more intuitive driving experience, Sorento replaces the former Drive Mode Select setup with the new Smart Shift & Drive feature across all trim levels. This enhancement automatically activates the optimum drive mode – Eco, Sport or Smart – based on driving style or may be set by driver preference.

Kia’s suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) is now standard on Sorento EX trims and higher. In addition to Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS)1, Smart Cruise Control (SCC)1, Blind Spot Detection (BSD)1, Rear Cross Traffic Alert1 and Surround View Monitor (SVM)1, Sorento now offers Driver Attention Warning (DAW)4 and Lane Keeping Assist (LKA).1 DAW is designed to detect when driver concentration has waned by monitoring vehicle and driving behavior and, then, if it detects driver fatigue or inattentive driving practices, issues visual and audible warnings, including a coffee cup icon in the instrument cluster, to encourage the driver to take a break.” LKA helps alerts the driver and can even steer the vehicle back to its original position should the system detect the vehicle drifting out of its lane.

In addition, all Sorento models continue to offer standard active safety features such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC)15, Traction Control System (TCS)15, Brake Assist System (BAS)15, Hill-start Assist Control (HAC)15, Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD)15 and Antilock Braking System (ABS)15. Additional technologies such as Roll Over Mitigation (ROM)15 and Cornering Brake Control (CBC)15 on AWD models are standard equipment for improved dynamic control.

The core of the 2019 Sorento remains its rigid structure, with 53 percent of the unit-body consisting of advanced high-strength steel. Liberal application of industrial strength adhesives, the use of dual-seal lip joints as well as laser and large diameter welding techniques combine to make the Sorento solid and strong.

The Sorento’s well-proven suspension geometry and responsive steering system provide a quick and nimble behind-the-wheel feel. Ride and handling are optimized with the application of an "H" shaped subframe, four-point bushing mountings, and Hydraulic Rebound Stopper-type shock absorbers. And vertically mounted rear shocks contribute to a comfortable ride no matter what the driving conditions. The available Rack-mounted Motor Driven Power Steering (R-MDPS) features direct mounting of the electric motor on the steering rack, enhancing steering response and improving handling.

Sorento continues to offer an advanced AWD system designed to automatically route power to the wheel with the most traction. When conditions call for more sure-footed capability, the 4WD Lock Mode splits engine power evenly between the front and rear drive shafts. The system also provides drivers the added stability of Torque Vector Cornering Control (TVCC).15 The TVCC system is activated when yaw and steering sensors detect unwanted understeer.

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