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Kia readies all-new Sorento SUV

Outbound: The current Sorento (pictured) will soon make way for the fourth-generation model that will bring a more aggressive look, sophisticated cabin and a host of advanced new technology.

New-generation Kia Sorento to open with AWD diesel, then V6 petrol, as hybrids loom

30 Jan 2020

KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) will introduce its new-generation Sorento seven-seat large SUV around mid-year, launching with all-wheel-drive four-cylinder diesel variants before adding two-wheel-drive V6 petrol versions later in the second half of this year.


The Australian subsidiary of the South Korean car-maker will also push for all-new hybrid powertrains developed for Sorento – including plug-in hybrid – once early demand from Europe subsides, probably during 2021.


KMAu general manager of product planning Roland Rivero has confirmed to GoAuto that the fourth-generation Sorento will be offered with a full model range, kicking off in about six months’ time with an upgraded version of the existing R-series 2.2-litre turbo-diesel that will be paired exclusively with an automatic transmission and an all-paw driveline – as is the case now.


The current diesel produces 147kW of power and 441Nm of torque, driving all four wheels through a part-time 4WD system and eight-speed automatic.


The company will also stick with the same formula for petrol-powered versions of the Sorento, relying on an updated version of the carryover 3.5-litre ‘Lambda’ V6 to drive just the front wheels.


The current model produces 206kW/336Nm and similarly sends the output down to the road via an eight-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox.


A variety of barely disguised unofficial photographs of the new-generation Sorento have surfaced in recent weeks as the car-maker draws close to its official unveiling in Korea on February 17, showing that the exterior styling will be a little more aggressive but largely derivative.


That said, the interior will take a major leap forward in terms of sophistication, and perhaps the biggest news will come with new technology in areas such as active safety, infotainment, digital instrumentation and the all-new hybrid powertrains – both a parallel hybrid system and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).


The two new hybrids were confirmed by Kia late last month and will be targeted primarily at the European market, where increasingly strict CO2 regulations are forcing car-makers to move rapidly towards electrification across their model lines.


Mr Rivero said KMAu would look at all options available to the Australian subsidiary, and that the company was keen to fall into line with market trends and commitments being made at a global level, adding electrified vehicles to the range as they become available in a bid to reduce emissions and meet ever-changing consumer expectations.


He also said that the Australian suspension tuning program for the new Sorento was almost finished, clearing the way for a smooth run to the local launch.


The current Sorento is priced from $43,490 plus on-road costs for the Si 2WD petrol and tops out at $59,490 plus on-roads for the GT-Line AWD diesel. Other trim levels include Sport and SLi, while a Black Edition is also doing the rounds as the large SUV enters the final stages of this generation.


Kia sold 3777 examples of the Sorento in Australia last year, down 13.9 per cent on 2018.


KMAu will be hoping for a smooth changeover and strong response to the new model to boost its sales performance as the brand targets another year of record growth overall amid a general downturn in the market.


KMAu chief operating officer Damien Meredith said the company was targeting around 5400 sales a year once the new Sorento was up and running and both petrol and diesel variants were available.


“The challenge for us with the new Sorento is to get that number up to around about 400-450 (sales per month),” he said. “And we’ve been averaging around about 320 to 350 with the current Sorento.”

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