It’s no secret Kia is gunning for the podium when it comes to the ever-popular SUV segment. Whether it’s in the subcompact, compact, midsize, or whatever-size-they’re-calling-it-now class, Kia’s got a representative touting the South Korean brand. The Soul fits that in-between class filled with sedans that look more like miniature school buses. Then there’s the Seltos, although a newcomer, which competes with its cousin Kona from Hyundai. The Sportage underwent a little surgery to face the compact SUV competition. And the Telluride acts as the heavy-hitter the Sorento used to be.

That being said, don’t mistake the 2021 Sorento for the second-place model it might seem. There’s still plenty to admire about this midsize SUV. To help you even out what you’ve heard and seen about Kia’s lineup of SUVs, we’ve put together a quick guide on the 2021 Sorento. Frankly, it’s a model you should consider no matter what you’re in the market for. Dismissing Kia as a viable option could do your new car search more harm than good, so read on.


Like many SUVs these days, the 2021 Sorento will probably come standard in the base trim with front-wheel drive. Higher-priced trims will then unlock all-wheel drive. Towing capacity hasn’t officially been released yet, along with the exact powertrains. However, many experts speculate Kia will offer a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, a smaller 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder/electric motor hybrid, and a plug-in hybrid model. Both turbo engines above will be paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The larger powerplant should make around 277 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, according to MotorTrend. Meanwhile the baby turbo engine puts out about 227 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Rumors of a V6 or diesel variant are also floating around. However, they won’t be available at launch.

Available Colors

Did you scroll past the engine specs to see what shiny colors you can get your new Sorento in? Feast your eyes on the color palette below. We promise, they all look better in person.

  • Snow White Pearl
  • Dragon Brown
  • Ebony Black
  • Sparkling Silver
  • Everlasting Silver
  • Gravity Gray
  • Sangria
  • Imperial Blue
  • Passion Red

Trims and Features

Kia hasn’t exactly released much concerning the specific trim levels available on the 2021 Sorento. However, various reviewers and experts have chimed in with various details, many of them gushing over the “rhomboidal” air vents that turn the otherwise standard Kia interior into a design statement. Last year’s Sorento had numerous trims, though, including the LX, LX+, Black Line, EX, EX+, and the SV. They ranged between $31,000 and $47,000 in terms of starting prices. As usual, Kia remains ultra competitive when it comes to cost.

Of further note is the two-tone steering wheel, which is complemented by large dual screens. Facing the driver is a 12.3-inch instrument cluster screen, with the 10.3-inch infotainment screen occupying the center stack. Up to seven people can gather within the 2021 Sorento, which offers “one of the most spacious interiors ever offered by the company.” Upgrade options will likely include heated and ventilated front seats, leather seating, and various upscale design elements scattered throughout the interior.

If you park the 2020 Sorento beside the new version, you’ll hardly believe they’re the same model. As summarizes, “the new Sorento’s big continental energy replaces its dowdier minivan shapes from last year.” A much-needed update for the Sorento, the exterior design leads your eye around the vehicle, from the skinny taillights to the nameplate displayed in large letters across the back tailgate. And if you’ve seen some models with “the unusual protruding shark-fin trim just aft of the second-row doors,” a lot of reviewers aren’t sure about it either. A closer look in person will likely clear that up quickly.


Kia has yet to confirm which safety features will be loaded standard on the 2021 Sorento. However, predicts the newest model will “include automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and a highway driving assistant that’s available on other Kia models.” If there’s a model you should be referencing for what the 2021 Sorento will offer in terms of safety features, it’s the new Telluride.

Fuel Efficiency

The 2021 Sorento was scheduled to debut at the 2020 Geneva Auto Show. However, given recent global events, the new Sorento debuted to the world via livestream. As the model has not hit production markets just yet, there aren’t any official fuel efficiency ratings. That being said, we can confirm that smaller engines typically make respectable numbers when it comes to fuel efficiency, even though the Sorento includes a turbo onboard. The expected addition of hybrid variants only ups the ante when it comes to the 2021 Sorento’s appeal. Check back with Kia for updates on the Sorento’s engine options, as well as fuel efficiency ratings.


Even though the 2021 Sorento has been ousted by the Telluride as leader of the Kia pack, both models will still compete against nearly the same lineup. “Targeting Asian competitors like the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander,” the 2021 Sorento will have to work hard in order to beat out the competition. Not only will it spar with the Telluride, but heavy-hitters like the Honda CR-V, Nissan Pathfinder, the Volkswagen Tiguan, and a slew of other SUVs. For a seven-seater, however, you’d have trouble finding a kitted-out model for under $50,000. That is, without sacrificing interior quality, available safety features, or a peppy/hybrid engine.

Beyond comparing the 2021 Sorento to what’s already out there, it’s worth a minute to consider Kia’s efforts in updating this SUV’s look. The “upscale execution” of this “smaller hauler” strikes many reviewers in a positive way. In fact, CarandDriver gushes: “What’s refreshing is that the Sorento, unlike every Volvo and BMW on sale, is not a scaled-down version of a larger, more expensive model.” You’re actually getting a completely separate SUV from even the new Telluride. Some might squint and purse their lips in a “hmm” fashion when considering how many SUVs Kia enters into the market. However, given the success of the segment as a whole, perhaps it’s a smarter move than anyone’s giving this brand credit for. Only time will tell.

The Last Word

Kia announced the 2021 Sorento will be available near the end of 2020. Most experts agree Kia will set the lowest price tag around $30,000, which is actually quite affordable given all the goodies packed on board. Stop by your local Kia dealership for your own take on the 2021 Sorento. While you’re there, give the Telluride a quick peek too. It might be just what you need to get around, or it could give you the perspective on the 2021 Sorento you need.


Rebecca Henderson has a Master's in German and a Bachelor's in Creative Writing. She alternates her time between writing and working on a variety of motorized projects. Most recently, she and her boyfriend have been building a custom drift trike. Rebecca believes that language, love, and a life worth living are only the first ingredients to happiness.