Koreans are definitely sailing. Hyundai’s sales keep reaching new highs and Kia is doing pretty well, too. The latter certainly doesn’t plan to stop there, as it continues to refine its products to maintain a solid growth. The 2011 Kia Sorento, unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show, is a perfect example.
While the first generation was fairly raw and lacked focus, the new model is going into a whole other direction with regard to driving dynamics and attitude. What used to be a full-on, body-on-frame SUV is suddenly morphing into a car-like unibody crossover. In fact, from now on, the Sorento will share its platform with the Hyundai Santa Fe.
The second generation also marks a radical departure from the original as far as styling is concerned. The lines are much smoother and sleeker and the interior is way more sophisticated. In addition, the Sorento has lost some of its capacity in the process -- but for a good cause. How so? Well, Kia wants to make it a more family-oriented vehicle than a dedicated off-roader.
A new vision
Incidentally, here’s an interesting piece of news: the 2011 Kia Sorento will be more American than ever as the brand’s first vehicle to be manufactured in the U.S. During its introduction at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Kia executives proudly congratulated workers at the West Point Assembly Plant, in Georgia, for their amazing talent and hard work.
Actually, the sweetest moment of the whole event was when two Kia employees came to speak on behalf of their colleagues and started to sing out loud to show how happy and excited they were. I don’t know if this was set up or not, but their performance paid a nice homage to the Georgian workforce.
The automaker wants the world to know how great it is to be around and own a Kia, so much so that they bought a huge advertising billboard in Time Square, New York, right in time for the New Year’s Day celebrations!
Let’s go back to the new Sorento, whose hood hides some very competent powertrains. Both the 175-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine and the 276-horsepower V6 will be mated to Kia’s all-new six-speed automatic transmission. Inside, there’s more passenger and cargo room than ever before.
Of course, we’ll have to wait until the official Canadian debut to learn about pricing (Auto123.com has been invited for a road test next month). In the United States, though, the announcement took everyone by surprise: the 2011 Kia Sorento is several hundreds of dollars cheaper than its predecessor and even offers a base model under US$20,000! Hopefully, Kia Canada will follow suit.
Photos: Philippe Champoux