2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid, A Stylish, Efficient In-Betweener


As 2020 draws to a close, crossovers of various flavors remain the most popular form factor in the American automotive market so it’s important for manufacturers to keep those products fresh. That’s exactly what Kia is doing and by the end of 2021 it should have at least five models that are less than two years old including the just launched fourth-generation Sorento. Along with a fresh design, like many other new utilities, the Sorento is now also offered with an optional hybrid powertrain for the first time.

The Sorento shares its basic platform with the new K5 midsize sedan that launched earlier in the year as the replacement for the Optima. Like the K5, the Sorento features the brand’s new design language including a fresh take on the “tiger nose” grille treatment. There is no longer a body colored gap between the LED headlamps and the grille area. The grill itself is also more concave than before. This gives the fascia a somewhat more sporting and aggressive stance. 

For the most part the exterior is clean as the past two generations of Sorento have been, but the designers have added a couple of questionable flourishes. Where many other vehicles feature a faux vent in the area between the front fender and doors, the Sorento has a piece of chrome trim that clearly isn’t trying to be anything functional, it just sits there with no real purpose. Similarly, behind the rear doors is a sort of reverse shark-fin that extends about halfway up the C-pillar from the chrome trim surrounding the side glass. While these bits clearly distinguish the Sorento from the dozens of other crossovers out there, deleting either or both probably wouldn’t do any harm. Aside from that the rest of the body is well proportioned and has a sporting stance. 

Inside the Sorento has an attractive new look with the eight-inch touchscreen central display standing on top of the dashboard but its surround integrated and flowing directly into the instrument cluster. This approach keeps the display up closer to the driver’s line of sight while driving without the look of a tablet tacked onto the dash. 

Like many 2021 models, the Sorento now supports wireless connectivity for both Apple

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Carplay and Android Auto in addition to the embedded functionality of the infotainment. Connecting my Google Pixel 5 was straightforward, after pairing with Bluetooth, the phone prompted me to activate Android Auto as it would usually do when connected via USB. Once I accepted, I could put the phone down on the wireless charging mat in the bin at the bottom of the center stack and it reconnected each time I got in the car. There are also 8 USB charging ports including one on the inner edge of each of the front seats for second row passengers to access. 

The Sorento is unique in the Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) lineup (including Kia, Hyundai and Genesis) in being very much a midsize utility vehicle but with three-row seating capability. It’s more than four-inches shorter than the K5 and just half an inch longer than the Santa Fe. However, in the Hyundai lineup you have to step up to the larger Palisade to get three rows. Kia explains that the larger Telluride is only available in North America and the Middle East while the Sorento is a global product. Since there is a demand globally for midsize three row vehicles, the Sorento gets that capability. 

The second-row is roomy enough for adults and as long as they are willing to use less than maximum legroom two adults can get in the third row. However, that last row is basically on the floor and my five-foot eleven-inch frame was in a distinctly knees up position although my head wasn’t touching the headliner. The third row offers flexibility for carrying an extra pair of pre-teens or shorter adults, but you won’t want to use it for long road trips. With the third seats up, there is a mere 12.5 cubic feet of very shallow cargo space in the back. With those seats folded flat, there is 38.5 cubic feet with the second row all the way back and 45 with those seats pushed forward. 

Perhaps the most notable new feature of the 2021 Sorento is the availability of a hybrid drive option. The gas-powered models feature a pair of 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines with or without a turbocharger. The hybrid features the latest iteration of the HMG hybrid system that pairs an engine with a conventional 6-speed automatic transmission where the torque convertor is replaced with an electric motor. Previous applications have used naturally aspirated engines of either 1.6-liter or 2.0-liter capacity for the Niro and Optima respectively. 

The Sorento hybrid gets a 1.6-liter turbocharged four paired with a 60-hp electric motor for a total output of 227-hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. That slots it neatly between the numbers for the hybrid variants of Toyota’s Rav4 and Highlander while the size also slots right between those. Similarly, the Sorento’s 37 mpg combined fuel economy rating also slips into the same gap with the Rav4 hitting 40 mpg and the larger Highlander at 36 mpg. 

I had 24 hours with the Sorento hybrid during which I drove it through a variety of traffic conditions including urban stop and go, interstate, suburban highway and some twisting country roads. It was a cold day with temperatures hovering right around freezing and some fresh snow coming down but not really sticking to the pavement leaving it cold and damp. The Sorento averaged about 38 mpg which is good considering that hybrids typically see degraded fuel efficiency in cold weather. 

On the road, the Sorento was generally pleasant and refined to drive although not perfect. The ride quality was quite good, thanks in part to the use of 17-inch wheels with 235/65R17 tires that provide some extra compliance. The body was well controlled even over rough pavement, but a surprising amount of road noise was transmitted into the cabin. It wasn’t objectionable, and certainly not out of line for this market segment, but most automakers try to keep noise suppressed in hybrid models to minimize the transition between engine on and off modes. 

Aside from that, the only other issue I noted was some wheel hop when accelerating hard from a dead stop on the cold, wet pavement. Since most drivers of such vehicles aren’t likely to do that, they’ll probably never experience it. It is important to note that the hybrid Sorento is only offered with front-wheel drive for now. Other hybrid crossovers including the Ford Escape, Toyota Rav4 and Honda CR-V all offer all-wheel-drive. There is a more powerful 261-hp plug-in hybrid version of the Sorento coming in mid-2021 that will have AWD. 

One of the best aspects of HMG hybrids including the Sorento is the overall feel of the powertrain. Since they use a conventional step-ratio transmission rather than a continuously variable setup, they don’t exhibit any of the motor-boating effects that you would expect when accelerating. When coasting on level ground or slightly downhill even at highway speeds, the engine will shut off when there is sufficient charge in the battery and you can cruise around your neighborhood in complete silence and with zero emissions. 

The 2021 Sorento hybrid is offered in S and EX trim levels with lots of standard equipment even in the S. That includes a suite of driver assistance capabilities including forward collision assist with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, blindspot monitoring and more. The EX adds a radar sensor to the front camera for adaptive cruise control and also fuses it with the camera data for the collision and pedestrian detection. The Sorento hybrid S starts at $33,590 while the EX adds $3,000. The EX I tested with the optional Runway Red paint came to a reasonable $38,205 including delivery. For a stylish, roomy 4/5 wagon with decent performance and excellent fuel economy and the option to carry two more passengers when needed, the 2021 Kia Sorento should definitely be on your shopping list.



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In WWII 3 out of 4 German KIA Were by Soviet Army


The best available estimate of WWII German military deaths comes from German historian Rüdiger Overmans. Most estimates are based on wartime casualty reports of the German military; but Overmans shows convincingly that the system was unreliable and eventually broke down, so that earlier estimates underestimate the number of German military men who fell in WWII.

Overmans, after extensive research of his own, put the total German military war dead at 5,318,000. This figure includes deaths of Volksturm militiamen and foreign volunteers of the Waffen SS and Wehrmacht. It does not include the deaths of Soviet citizens in German service.

Of these, 459,000 are known to have died in captivity, including 363,000 as prisoners of the Soviets. Overmans suggests the figure of German POWs who perished in Soviet captivity may be far higher than the 363,000 recorded deaths, and could reach as many as one million men. This is speculation, however, since Overmans, working from the German archives, had no way to study the subject.

The Russian historian Krivosheev, who was better positioned to study the subject, instead estimates there were a total of 450,000 German POW deaths in Soviet hands, including the deaths of 94,000 prisoners who never made it to POW camps and whose deaths are thus not reflected in the Soviet records.

After reducing his 5,318,000 figure by 459,000 confirmed POW deaths, Overmans distributes the rest (which necessarily includes the 94,000 unrecorded POW deaths in Soviet hands and another 22,000 German military men executed by their own side), as follows:

Eastern Front2,743,000
Western Front + Africa + Italy506,000
Final Battles in Germany in 1945 – of which at least 2/3rds to Soviets1,230,000
Northern Europe30,000
The Balkans104,000
Other (Including sea and air war over Germany)246,000
Total4,859,000

 

 

 

As said of the 1,230,000 German dead in the final battles of WWII according to Overmans, at least two-thirds were in the East.

The figure of 104,000 killed in the Balkans includes casualties sustained against Yugoslav and Greek partisans as well as those killed as the Red Army swept much of the region in late 1944. 

Fighting in Northern Europe corresponds to the Norwegian campaign against the western allies, the “Lapland War” against Finland in 1944/45, and most of all, the fighting against Soviet forces in northern Finland and the Russian Karelia region around Murmansk. 

The German dead in sea battles and in the air war over Germany would have been overwhelmingly due to the western allies, but the Soviets must have extracted a non-insignificant toll as well. 

Taking everything into account by a conservative estimate, German KIA to Soviets is just over 3.5 million. This would include 2,743,000 for the Eastern Front, 820,000 for final battles in Germany, as well as a guesstimated 100,000 in the Balkans, Northern Europe, and the seas; reduced by 94,000 unrecorded deaths in Soviet captivity and 20,000 executed on the Eastern Front.

In other words, of the total estimated 4,743,000 German KIA in WWII, some 3,549,000 or 75% were to Soviets.

Nor is this the extent of Axis KIA sustained fighting Soviet forces. According to Krivosheev, some 215,000 Soviet citizens were killed fighting in German uniform of the army, auxiliary police, or the Waffen SS.

Furthermore, Germany’s Axis allies lost hundreds of thousands more. 

1941-45 Finland, for which there is reliable data, suffered some 60,000 KIA. For the other Axis participants figures are somewhat elusive. 

By some estimates Italy lost over 90,000 military men on the Eastern Front including some 50,000 who perished after being captured by the Soviets. 

Krivosheev gives figures for Hungarian and Romanian military dead less POWs as 350,000 and 480,000 respectively; but this is likely an exaggeration.

Going from the fact 300,000 Hungarian soldiers are believed to have died in WWII, and Krivosheev estimates 55,000 deaths in Soviet captivity, between 200,000 and 250,000 may have been killed in battles against the Red Army.

Romania left the Axis in August 1944, but contributed twice as many troops to the Eastern Front as Hungary before that. Its battle dead to the Red Army is therefore at least as high as that of Hungary, and probably higher.

Roughly speaking, against the Soviets, Axis forces suffered the loss of some 4.3 military men including 3.55 million Germans, 0.2 million Soviet collaborators and over 0.5 million Axis allies. These are military combat deaths without counting any POW deaths.

As I have argued, the corresponding figure for Soviet forces is 7.5 million, of which 7.25 million were Red Army regulars and the rest were partisans and militia. Adding fatalities sustained by Polish, Czechoslovak, Romanian, and Bulgarian units subordinate to the Soviets, but not part of the Red Army, might push up the number of allied dead in the east to 7.6 million.

This gives a rough ratio of losses in the east of 1:1.8  (4.3 million compared to 7.6 million).* The ratio, while in Axis favor, gives lie to the often held impression of Soviet forces as fighting the war by unleashing trainloads of barely armed or unarmed men in massive “human wave” attacks to overcome the enemy by the sheer weight of their numbers.

Discounting the first two years of war which hit the Soviet Union unprepared and in which the Red Army was the most mismanaged, the ratio is even more balanced. In fact, since Soviet losses disproportionately occured in the disastrous early stage of the war and the German losses in the final stage of the war, the losses ratio towards the end of the war, and in the best-executed Soviet operations, was actually in the Soviet favor.
 


* Ratios more to the disadvantage of the Soviet side frequently encompass all Soviet military death disregarding the fact that over 3 million of them perished in Wehrmacth POW camps, underestimate German losses by incoroporating only reported deaths and omit Germany’s Axis allies in the east.

Sources

Overmans,  Rűdiger. Deutsche militärische Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Oldenbourg 2000.

Krivosheev, G. F.. Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century. Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books 1997



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Kia recalls 295,000 U.S. vehicles for fire risks


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WASHINGTON — Kia Motors Corp said on Saturday it is recalling 295,000 U.S. vehicles for engine fire risks.

The Korean automaker said the recall covers some 2012-2013 model year Sorento, 2012-2015 Forte and Forte Koup, 2011-2013 Optima Hybrid, 2014-2015 Soul, and 2012 Sportage vehicles because an engine compartment fire can occur while driving.

Dealers will inspect the engine compartment for fuel or oil leaks, perform an engine test and make any repairs including engine replacement, as necessary. Kia said it is currently developing a Knock Sensor Detection System software update.

Last week, Kia and affiliate Hyundai Motor Co agreed to a record $210 million civil penalty after U.S. auto safety regulators said they failed to recall 1.6 million vehicles for engine issues in a timely fashion.

The Korean automakers agreed to consent orders after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said the automakers inaccurately reported some information to the agency regarding the recalls.

Kia’s civil penalty totaled $70 million, including an upfront payment of $27 million, requirements to spend $16 million on specified safety measures, and a potential $27 million deferred penalty.



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Kia Sorento diesel review: Seven-seat SUV looks and drives like a European car


Many car makers are now deleting the diesel option from their local model line-ups. Hyundai, for example, has no diesel variant in its new 2021 i30 range and Toyota’s RAV4 now offers petrol/electric hybrid power instead of diesel for buyers who prioritise fuel economy.

Diesel still makes sense in big, heavy SUVs, though, for exactly the same reason it’s still used in 99.99 per cent of trucks. As a fuel for shifting a substantial mass with maximum efficiency, it works.

This week we’re testing Kia’s new Sorento, a large seven-seater SUV, powered by a 2.2-litre four cylinder turbodiesel that’s being asked to move more than two tonnes fully laden, yet can do it while returning single-figure fuel use and close to 1000km on a tankful. Range anxiety? What’s that?

media_cameraKia’s new Sorento brings style and luxury in an affordable package.

VALUE

Kia’s fourth generation Sorento kicks off at $46,990 drive away for the 200kW 3.5-litre V6 petrol/eight-speed auto/front-wheel drive S model. Sport is $49,990, Sport+ is $54,390 and GT Line is $61,990.

The 148kW 2.2-litre four cylinder turbodiesel is paired with a dual-clutch eight-speed transmission and all-wheel drive in the same models grades: S, at $49,990; Sport at $52,990; Sport+ at $57,390 (tested here) and GT Line at $64,990.

COMFORT

Sport + is the value sweet spot in the Sorento range, with partial leather upholstery, luxuriously comfortable, power-adjustable heated front seats, tinted glass, a power tailgate, keyless entry/push-button start and 19-inch alloys as standard. Fit, finish and material quality is excellent.

Diesel power means you can drive for about 1000km without having to refuel.
media_cameraDiesel power means you can drive for about 1000km without having to refuel.

Infotainment is via a hi-res 12.3-inch screen atop the dash. The left side of the screen is too far away to reach easily, the menu layout is complex and stand-alone voice control is not provided (you need to connect with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto to use voice commands) so it requires too much eyes off the road time to use safely on the move. Wireless phone charging is not included.

All seats in Sport+ get USB connectors, cupholders and storage and Sorento is one of more spacious, practical seven seaters around.

There’s lots of (adjustable) legroom in the 60/40 split-fold second row, plus adjustable backrest angle, and all you have to do to access row three is push a button, though the gap for access is still tight. Vents are provided for each row, and row three in Sport+ also has fan speed control.

There are plenty of tech and luxury features.
media_cameraThere are plenty of tech and luxury features.

Row-three seats are fine for kids up to teen age. They are manually raised from the floor with a strap.

SAFETY

Rear passengers (which in most cases would be kids) can’t open a door if a cyclist is approaching from behind. An airbag between the front seats is a first for the class, but curtain airbags do not extend to the end of row three – a potential deal breaker for many parents.

DRIVING

Kia’s new turbodiesel is an all-alloy engine that weighs 19kg less than the iron block engine of the same capacity in the previous model.

It goes nicely, too, with big grunt off idle and through the mid-range that makes for completely effortless progress in the higher gears, even when fully loaded. Power drops off a cliff at about 4000rpm, but it doesn’t matter because you never have to go there. It responds strongly and immediately whenever you put your foot down, and can hold its own with Europe’s best diesels.

There is plenty of grunt from the diesel engine, even when fully loaded.
media_cameraThere is plenty of grunt from the diesel engine, even when fully loaded.

Eco/Comfort/Sport/Smart (adaptive) drive modes are provided, but Sport is not at all sporty, just a touch busier. Sand/Mud/Snow traction control/torque distribution modes can also be selected on unsealed surfaces. The eight-speed dual-clutch transmission works almost — but not quite — as smoothly as a torque converter automatic, and is employed to maximise fuel efficiency.

Which it does. The test car used 6.5-7.0L/100km on the highway; expect 8-10L/100km in town.

Kia puts considerable effort into tuning its suspension for Australia’s rugged roads, and it really shows in Sorento Sport+, which has one of the best ride/handling compromises of any seven-seater SUV, regardless of price.

Handling is remarkably taut and tidy for nearly two tonnes, with disciplined body control and secure roadholding from the firm, fixed rate suspension, complemented by adhesive Continental tyres. The ride is controlled, compliant and comfortable, especially at speed on country roads, where many seven-seaters get pretty nautical and, for the kids in the back, nauseous. Steering is typical big SUV, though, in that it feels remote and imprecise.

As with all big SUVs the steering is a but remote and imprecise.
media_cameraAs with all big SUVs the steering is a but remote and imprecise.

HEART SAYS

I know I need a seven-seater to transport the tribe, but I would really, really like one that doesn’t drive like a bus.

HEAD SAYS

It looks European, and drives European, but the price tag is South Korean.

VERDICT 3.5/5

As a drive, Sorento diesel is one of the best seven-seaters on the market, however no curtain airbag coverage for row three, and user unfriendly infotainment, hurt it.

ALTERNATIVES

Hyundai Santa Fe, from $47,020

A twin under the skin with the just superseded Sorento. Runs a 147kW 2.2-litre turbodiesel/eight-speed automatic/all-wheel drive. A new model is imminent, so deals should be doable.

Mazda CX-8, from $46,910

A direct seven-seater rival, though slightly smaller. The 140kW 2.2-litre diesel/six-speed auto is available in front or all-wheel drive.

KIA SORENTO SPORT+ VITALS

Price: $57,390 drive away

Warranty/servicing: 7yr w’ty; $3463 for 7yrs

Engine: 2.2-litre 4-cyl turbodiesel, 148kW/440Nm

Safety: Not yet tested, 7 airbags, auto emergency braking, lane keeping, adaptive cruise, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert

Thirst: 6.1L/100km

Spare: Full size alloy

Boot: 616L (five-seater mode)

Originally published as Cheap alternative to European luxury



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