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2021 Kia Sorento Revealed with Sharp New Look (UPDATE)

Kia has taken the wraps off its upcoming 2021 Sorento SUV, ahead of the vehicle’s official debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show.

UPDATE (2020.02.19): Kia has released details on the domestic-market Sorento’s engine lineup. The trio of engines includes a hybrid powertrain—a first for the Sorento—pairing a 177 horsepower 1.6-liter turbo with a 59 horsepower electric motor. Combined outputs sit at 227 hp and 258 lb-ft. Also available is a 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder, packing 277 hp, 310 lb-ft, and hitting the wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch. Finally a 2.2-liter turbodiesel pairs the DCT with 199 horsepower and a stout 325 lb-ft of torque. North American engines are still unknown; the original article follows.

As far as engines are concerned, the new Sorento will initially be offered in its domestic market with a hybrid powertrain combining a turbocharged 1.6-liter gasoline engine producing 177 horsepower and 265 Newton-meters (195 pound-feet) with an electric motor rated at 59 hp and 264 Nm (195 lb-ft). Total output will stand at 227 hp and 350 Nm (258 lb-ft).

There’s also a beefier 2.5-liter turbocharged gasoline engine producing 277 hp and 421 Nm (310 lb-ft) sent to the wheels through a Kia-first wet double-clutch automatic transmission with eight gears.

The new model transforms the exterior of Kia’s smaller seven-seat crossover, aligning it with the sharper designs found elsewhere in the lineup, like the Telluride and all-new Seltos. That being said, the 2021 Sorento forges its own stylistic path: this isn’t a same-sausage-different-length approach. It’s also a team effort, with Kia’s Korean, European, and North American design teams all working together to create the final product.

Up front is the latest evolution of Kia’s “tiger nose” grille. It stretches across the entire visage, enveloping the LED headlights in a similar way to the smaller Seltos. A character line extends from the headlights right to the lights out back, which look like nothing else on the market. Blocky and bisected, they frame an angular hatch with a sizeable, flicked-up lip. Integrated exhaust tips anchor the rear design. There are a lot of angles here, but they come together well in our eyes. The current model’s rounded, anonymous rear gave off a lot of minivan vibes, which we can’t accuse this one of.

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We also can’t ignore the little shark fin behind the C-pillar either. It’s an interesting design cue not typically seen on this side of the Atlantic—some Euro-market Citröens feature them—but could be very color-dependent.

Riding on a brand new platform, the 2021 Kia Sorento features a longer wheelbase. Kia’s designers have massaged the proportions, pushing the wheels closer to the corners of the car. They’ve also moved the windshield base back 1.2 inches, giving the Sorento a more cab-rearward stance. It looks classy and substantial, much like the well-received Telluride.

As drastic the exterior redesign is, it’s arguably nothing compared to the interior. Kia’s released a handful of snaps of the new digs drivers will find and, well, we’re impressed. The two-tone, quilted-and-perforated leather interior is sharp, with ambient lighting peeking through the dashboard design. Angular vents mirror the shapes found in the taillights, and flank the dedicated climate controls in the center console. Kia’s 10.25-inch touchscreen sits beside an all-digital instrument cluster as well. We can just make out a rotary-style gear selector too. This is likely a higher trim however: it’s unclear what a base-spec Sorento would keep.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Kia Forte GT Review

Kia hasn’t announced drivetrain options, but we’d expect them to reflect the existing model. For 2020 that means standard front-wheel drive with an available all-wheel drive option, plus 2.4-liter four-cylinder (185 hp) or 3.3-liter V6 (290 hp). The Sportage’s turbo 2.0-liter could also find its way under the hood, effectively splitting the difference in available horsepower.

The official debut of the 2021 Kia Sorento will happen at the Geneva Motor Show, which kicks off March 3. Stay tuned for more details on Kia’s next crossover around then.