2021 Kia Sorento Review

September 10, 2020

Kia’s all-new large SUV promises to be better in every respect, but is it enough to take on such polished segment leaders?

With an onslaught of incoming fresh metal, the large-SUV segment is going to get a shake-up. And the latest new kid on the block is the 2021 Kia Sorento.

Our first taste of Kia’s new large SUV comes in flagship form: GT-Line, with the more expensive diesel all-wheel-drive powertrain.

Under the bonnet of our tester lies a 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine, which makes 148kW at 3800rpm and 440Nm at 1750–2750rpm. That’s one kilowatt more than the outgoing model and one newton-metre less.

This engine is quite new, however. Fuel injector pressure has been boosted to 2200bar (just below 32,000psi), and the engine block is now 19.5kg lighter thanks to alloy replacing cast iron.

The other choice of power plant, a 3.5-litre petrol V6, also sports reduced outputs: 200kW and 332Nm, down from 206kW and 336Nm. We aren’t sure of the reasons why, but we are guessing more stringent WLTP testing criteria are to blame.

Perhaps Kia (and Hyundai, for that matter) is focussing its future driveline tech on electric and hybrid power, rather than investing in new internal combustion engines.

Not all of the driveline is a carry-over affair: new diesel-powered Sorentos are equipped with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. It’s a new wet-clutch design, and will likely see service in Hyundai’s forthcoming i30N hot hatch.

While dual-clutch transmissions can offer good gains in fuel economy over a traditional torque converter gearbox, low-speed smoothness and manoeuvrability can suffer.

Fortunately, Kia’s transmission is smartly tuned to inhibit such behaviour. From the driver’s seat, you can feel the clutch packs coming on gently, and working in sync with the brakes to pick up any slack before any free rolling occurs.


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