The Kia Sorento is a mid-size crossover SUV manufactured by the South Korean automotive company KIA. The Sorento was introduced in 2002, it started life as a traditional 5-seat SUV but has since evolved into a more modern three rows 7-seat, car-like crossover.
Let’s take a look at this offering from Kia and see how it has evolved throughout its generations. Please follow through.
2002 – 2008
The first-generation Kia Sorento was unveiled in 2002 for the 2003 model year. It had a body-on-frame structure that enhanced its towing and off-roading capabilities found in traditional SUVs but jeopardized its interior space, ride quality, and handling offered by other crossovers.
The 2003 Sorento was offered in two trim levels: the base LX and the high-end EX. Standard features include an eight-speaker audio system, an AM/FM stereo receiver with a single-disc CD player, air conditioning, a power-adjustable front driver’s seat, cloth upholstery, interior wood trim accents, power door locks and windows, keyless entry, dual front airbags and front and rear side-impact SRS airbags, privacy glass, aluminum-alloy wheels, and a split-folding rear seat. Optional features found on the EX trim include a ten-speaker high-end audio system, an in-dash CD changer, cassette and CD players, leather upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power front bucket seats, heated front seats, power sunroof, satellite radio (on later models), fog lamps, step bars, a roof rack, 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, and a security system (standard on both trims).
Initially, the first generation Sorento came fitted with a choice of either one of two engine choices, 3.3-liter V6 petrol with 242 hp and 228 lb-ft of torque and 3.8-liter V6 petrol with 262 hp and 257 lb-ft of torque. These engines were paired with either a 4-speed and 5-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission. Both engines came with a four-wheel-drive system, but the smaller engines system was part-time while the larger engine had a full four-wheel drive. An optional 2.5-liter turbo-diesel engine was also available.
2009 – 2013
The second-generation Sorento was released in 2009 for the 2010 model year. This model shifted from a body-and-frame structure to a unibody platform. The 2010 Sorento was available in four trims, starting with the Base, LX, EX, and the premium SX.
The external appearance of the redesigned 2010 Sorento followed Kia’s new design language which made it more appealing than the outgoing model. Some of the exterior changes include the introduction of Kia‘s corporate Tiger Nose grille and twin round headlights.
The 2010 Sorento is well-equipped, standard features include a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, air conditioning, satellite radio, cruise control, and a third-row seat on V6 models. The EX trim adds leather upholstery, a power driver’s seat, keyless ignition, automatic headlights, backup sensors, and 18-inch wheels. Optional features include a DVD entertainment system, a premium audio system, navigation, a sunroof, and Kia‘s UVO voice-command system.
The 2010 Sorento came fitted with either a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with 175 hp and a 3.5-liter V6 with 276-hp petrol engines or a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 183 hp and 2.2-liter 4-cylinder with 197 hp diesel engines. These engines were paired with either a 5- or 6-speed automatic and a 5- or 6-speed manual transmission. Front-wheel-drive was standard, with all-wheel drive optional on all trims except the base manual transmission.
2014 – 2019
Kia unveiled the third-generation Kia Sorento in 2014 for the 2015 model year. The 2015 Sorento was 189 inches longer, 0.2 inches wider and its ground clearance was reduced by 0.6 inches to improve handling.
Exterior styling also changed, its front end was a bit meaner, thanks to its larger headlights, bigger upright tiger-nose grille, and wide-opening vents. On the sides, the surfaces were slightly reshaped while at the rear a shark fin antenna is fitted at the top of the roof, a spoiler with a stoplight is placed at the top of the tailgate, slimmer wrap-around LED tail lights, and a new bumper fitted with a skid plate underneath.
Inside, the cabin is spacious, thanks to the growth in size. The seats were slightly realigned to create enough room for up to seven passengers and cargo.
Standard features include an upgraded infotainment system with an 8.0-inch touchscreen display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity, split-second-row seats, fabric upholstery, the Around-View Monitor, Infinity premium audio, real-time traffic info, and a next-gen Kia UVO eServices feature. The top-of-the-line SX model added a wood-trimmed heated steering wheel, Nappa leather upholstery, ventilated seats, heated rear seats, second-row sunshades, a power inverter, and HID headlights.
The 2015 Sorento comes fitted with either a 3.3-liter Lambda II V6 with 290 hp, a 2.4-liter GDI 4-cylinder with 190 hp, or a 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder with 240 hp. An optional turbocharged 2.2-liter CRDi diesel engine with 199 hp is also available. These engines are paired with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Available drivetrains are front-wheel drive as standard or all-wheel drive as an option.
On the outside, the car looked the same but the detailing was different. At the front, it came fitted with a razor grille, a crispy-looking bumper, and LED headlights and fog lamps (depending on trim). On the sides, a touch of chrome adorned the side scoops.
Inside, it came with a new gear knob, the cupholder sliding cover was removed, while the heated mid-row seats and the heated and ventilated front seats remained.
Under the hood, the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine was dropped.
2020 – Present
In 2020 the fourth-generation Kia Sorento was unveiled. This model grew in size compared to the outgoing with its wheelbase 1.4 inches longer and the vehicle’s overall length extended by 0.4 inches.
The design of the 2021 model is edgier, whereas previous models were curvy. Its new shape features a creased bonnet, an electric-razor grille, and LED headlights at the front, while at the rear, its two-part LED taillights pivot 90 degrees, and a big rear window. On the sides, the Sorento features metallic fender flags.
The 2020 Sorento has better interior space than before, in part due to the growth in size which improves the second-row passenger experience. The third row still has limited space, the third-row seats can only accommodate adults over short journeys. With the third-row seats folded down, the cargo area can handle up to 2124 liters of cargo.
Standard features on the 2020 Sorento include an 8.0-inch infotainment screen with Android Auto and Apple Carplay, and the latest version of Kia’s Uvo software with better voice-control functions that allow for control of the audio system, steering-wheel heating, and climate settings. Other new features include a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a wireless phone charging pad, a rotary gear selector, and up to eight USB charging ports.
The 2020 Sorento came fitted with either a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder petrol engine with 191 hp, a turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder petrol engine with 281 hp, or a turbocharged 1.6-liter and a single electric motor hybrid with lithium-ion batteries. These engines are paired with a 6-speed or 8-speed automatic transmission.
The Kia Sorento humbly began life in the automotive world in 2002 and so itself climbing slowly up the ladder to where it is today. Over the years, the Sorento has amassed a solid reputation for reliability, practicality, and towing ability. And twenty years later it has become an increasingly upmarket SUV and it currently serves a viable role as an alternative to the more expensive European rivals.
Written by: Samuel H. Mponezya