Kia Gears Up for Utility Battle with New Sorento, Niro

New utes help Kia with ever-more competitive segment.

by on Nov.30, 2017

The 2019 Kia Sorento gets new front and rear fascias giving the ute a more sophisticated look.

Like so many other automakers, Kia is looking to jump on the wave of crossover and sport-utility vehicle sales that have driven the market recently with its new 2019 Sorento and 2018 Niro models unveiled in Los Angeles.

The new Sorento and Niro, the South Korean automaker upgrades and fills holes in its utility vehicle portfolio as demand continues to soar. The larger Sorento gets some exterior upgrades as well as additions to its technology features.

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In the highly competitive crossover category, the Sorento is a clear example of how world-class design and craftsmanship are executed,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, KMA.

“Our popular utility now ups its game even further with enhancements in styling, packaging and content, making it even more attractive to shoppers seeking a premium level 3-row SUV.”

In addition to completely new front and rear fascias designed to give the Sorento a more sophisticated look, it gets a slew of new technology aimed at making the vehicle safer and more responsive, including Driver Attention Warning, Lane Keep Assist and QuantumLogic Surround Sound.

The new Kia Niro plug-in hybrid travels 26 miles in electric only mode.

(Kia cranks up the attitude for SEMA show. For details, Click Here.)

Those technological advancements are get two options under the hood: a 2.4-liter inline 4 cylinder mated to a 6-speed transmission putting out 185 horsepower or a 3.3-liter V6 putting out 290 hp and mated to 8-speed transmission to help with fuel economy.

Standard luxury features and amenities continue to be available across five trim levels – L, LX, EX, SX and SXL.

Meanwhile, Kia brings an exciting variant to the small ute-market, the Niro Plug-In hybrid — the maker’s third hybrid model. It’s capable of traveling 26 miles in purely electric mode and achieves 105 MPGe or an overall combined 46 mpg.

“The Niro Plug-in is the exciting next step in Kia’s progression toward offering more alternative fuel vehicles by 2020,” Hedrick said.

“Consumers who are intrigued by the Niro hybrid’s fantastic versatility and design, but want even more EcoDynamics technology and the ability to drive only using electric power, will find more to love in the Niro Plug-in Hybrid.”

(Click Here for a review of the 2018 Kia Rio.)

The Niro Plug-in Hybrid is another vehicle introduced under the Kia Motors EcoDynamics sub-brand and represents an important next step on the path to nearly tripling the brand’s global line-up of alternative fuel vehicles by 2020, which includes the Niro, Optima Hybrid, Optima PHEV and the Soul EV, the company note.

The new Niro Plug-in Hybrid offers all the same feature-rich packaging and driving fun of the hybrid Niro, but with a few PHEV-exclusive touches, such as a subtly-modified front grille insert and surround, hybrid blue exterior accents, available LED headlamps, a charge port door (on left front fender), available 7-inch color meter cluster with digital tachometer and “ECO/Plug-In” badges.

The Niro PHEV pairs an all-aluminum, efficient 1.6-liter GDI (gasoline direct injection) four-cylinder engine with an 8.9 kWh (59 kW) lithium-polymer battery pack and a powerful 60-HP (44.5 kW) electric motor, a set-up for optimum fuel efficiency and electrically driven range.

The Niro PHEV employs the same six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT) as the Niro, which translates to more enjoyable and engaging driving. Drivers can choose from several driving modes, including EV mode, Hybrid mode, (default) Eco mode, or Sport mode for quicker transmission response that takes advantage of the powertrain’s combined output of 139 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque.

Another notable energy-conserving feature is the Driver-Only Air Conditioning, which directs the ventilation toward the driver only and decreases the power consumption of the air conditioning system.

(To check out TDB’s first drive in the 2018 Kia Stinger GT, Click Here.) 

Both vehicles are expected in showrooms early next year, and no pricing details were made available.

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