Future Models - Kia 2012 Sorento
Kia Sorento to get new Santa Fe underpinnings
New underpinnings: Kia's forthcoming update for the Sorento SUV will - unusually - include a revised platform.
Platform switch for new Sorento as Kia aligns SUV with Hyundai’s 2013 Santa Fe
13 February 2012
KIA is preparing to take the unusual step of grafting a current model onto a new platform when it updates its Sorento later this year.
The South Korean manufacturer’s mid-sized SUV is expected to retain many of the styling and mechanical features of the current model when the new but conceptually similar version arrives in Australia in the third quarter, this time planted on the fresh platform of the forthcoming 2013 Santa Fe from sister company Hyundai.
The current XM Sorento – which was launched in October 2009 and now ranges in price from $36,490 to $49,190 – sits on a previous generation of the Santa Fe monocoque platform, one step behind the current Santa Fe that was upgraded in 2008.
Now the two Korean-built medium SUVs will be aligned on the same new architecture, giving both the latest levels of dynamic sophistication, although they will maintain their own signature styling, suspension tune and features.
According to Kia insiders, the suspension configuration is not expected to change a great deal, but sufficiently to entice Kia Motors Australia to run the new Sorento through its local engineering development program – like the Sportage, Optima and new Rio before it – to tune the ride, handling and steering to local tastes and needs.
From top: Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Carnival and Kia Optima.
Local engineers have already started benchmarking other SUVs such as the Holden Captiva, Toyota Kluger and even the BMW X5 as they set the parameters for the new model.
Some exterior panels are set to change in the update, but the current powertrain line-up – with a choice of 2.4-litre 128kW/226Nm petrol engine or 2.2-litre 145kW/422Nm diesel – is expected to be carried over.
The new Sorento is expected to land in Australian showrooms about August or September, potentially ahead of the new Santa Fe that Hyundai has hinted will be later in the year.
Ultimately, an all-new Sorento will be introduced, taking the popular seven-seat SUV in a new styling direction.
It is unclear why Kia is not taking the opportunity of a change of platform to put the Sorento through the acclaimed design mill of former Audi stylist Peter Schreyer, but it may be due to the heavy workload at the fast-growing company’s studios in Korea, Germany and California.
Last year, the Sorento was one of Kia’s Australian success stories, with sales growing 24.5 per cent, to 2613 vehicles.
The 2012 Sorento launch is Kia’s only big new-model debut for the rest of this year, with the all-new Carnival people-mover – one of Kia’s oldest models – set for replacement in 2013.
Also to get an update is the mid-sized Kia Optima, but only under the skin, in the form of electric-assisted power steering.
The new system is expected to be introduced as a running change, replacing the lumpy hydraulic system with a new, lighter and more sophisticated system that is also expected to be locally tuned.