Making its first appearance in U.S. trim, the 2014 Kia Sorento represents a major rethink of the automaker's compact crossover SUV. With over 80 percent new or revamped components, improved powertrains, enhanced features and a premium SX Limited variant joining the existing LX, EX and SX models, it should become an even more prominent player in one of autodom's most competitive segments.

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While its overall scale is unchanged, the new Sorento will roll out of the firm's West Point, Georgia, assembly plant on a fully redesigned platform that's significantly stiffer and stronger, thanks to the expanded use of high-strength steel. In addition to having a lower roofline, the new Sorento also features a lower ride height. Other changes in the formula intended to improve its overall dynamic character and enhance ride comfort include the adoption of Kia's energy-saving Motor Driven Power Steering system, revised suspension elements and more precisely tuned shocks and chassis bushings. Bigger brakes bolster the Sorento's stopping power and all models feature Electronic Stability Control with Downhill Brake Control, Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) and Hill-start Assist Control.

This comprehensive remake also adds a more contemporary edge to the Sorento's exterior while maintaining the classic Kia cue set. The recast front clip features more aerodynamic contouring and new lamp designs for both the projector-beam headlights and LED running lamps. Out back, the recontoured rear fascia has a cleaner appearance and is fitted with more horizontal taillights that help create a wider, lower look. Setting it off are new 17-, 18- and 19-inch wheel/tire packages — the latter an SX Limited exclusive.

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Inside, the 2014 Kia Sorento boasts even more people space than before. Increased use of soft-touch materials and richer-looking trim elements are complemented by an extensive roster of standards and a redesigned center console that houses a larger touchscreen display with controls for the various navi/infotainment systems — including the first appearance of Kia's next-gen UVO eServices voice-command telematics package.

The new Sorento will offer two engine choices, both of which feature direct injection. The formerly optional 2.4-liter GDI four that makes 191 horsepower returns as standard issue in the LX and EX models while the LX V6, EX V6, SX and SX Limited are fitted with the automaker's new all-aluminum 3.3-liter GDI six that churns out 290 horses. Both are backed by a 6-speed automatic transmission, while AWD versions of the Sorento use a new Torque On Demand system that adds a Torque Vectoring Control feature.

The 2014 Kia Sorento is scheduled to arrive at U.S. dealerships during the first quarter of next year. Pricing will be revealed closer to the on-sale date.


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