Kia Sorento: Chronicling the Changes

Revised: September 22, 2023

The Kia Sorento is a midsize, three-row crossover utility vehicle with space for seven. Launched in 2003 as a traditional body-on-frame SUV model, the Sorento eventually transitioned to a crossover. In 2020, the slightly larger Kia Telluride debuted; both models are sold today.

Kia logo

Chronicling the Changes

2023 – Few changes this year, mostly involving equipment levels.

2022 – One year removed from its most recent overhaul, the Sorento receives light changes. An X-Line Appearance Package is available on additional grades.

2021 – A fully redesigned Sorento launches this model’s fourth generation. The look is sharper and edgier, a fitting complement to the Kia Telluride. Tech upgrades include a 10.25-inch display and an available 12.3-inch digital instrument panel. Smartphone compatibility, wireless device charging, and eight USB ports are included. This model now features four powertrain choices, including standard and plug-in hybrid variants.

Fourth-Generation Kia Sorento

The fourth-generation Kia Sorento
The fourth-generation Kia Sorento

2020 – For the final year of the Sorento’s third generation, this SUV receives modest changes to the front bumper and exterior lighting. Further, the EX and LX grades were dropped.

2019 – Updated interior styling accompanies this model for its mid-product-cycle update. Kia drops the base 2.0-liter engine and upgrades to an 8-speed automatic transmission with the V6. A third-row seat is now standard across the model range.

2018 – No significant changes to report.

2017 — Two new package choices as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay accompany this model, largely carried over from the previous year.

2016 — The third-generation Sorento debuts and is now available with two- or three-row interiors, seating as many as seven. Customers have a choice of five grades: L, LX, EX, SX and SXL. The two previous engine choices return; a third engine joins the duo, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. All three engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Expanded telematics packages, driver-assist safety technologies, and additional audio system choices mark this model.

Third-Generation Kia Sorento

The third-generation Kia Sorento
The third-generation Kia Sorento

2015 — Following a significant update a year earlier, the 2015 Sorento is unchanged.

2014 — Just three years removed from its last major update, a heavily refreshed Sorento debuts. This model offers a new chassis, an updated interior, a new 3.3-liter V6 engine, and a late-arriving SX Limited model.

2013 — Expanded and updated package choices dominate the changes for this year.

2012 — One year removed from a new model, the 2012 Sorento swaps out the base engine with a new one offering improved horsepower and fuel efficiency. A newly available Microsoft-based UVO telematics system rolls out along with upgraded anti-bacterial cloth seats.

2011 — An all-new Sorento debuts, a car-based SUV available in LX, EX, and SX trim levels. The 2011 Sorento offers two engine choices: a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and 3.5-liter V6. Both come paired with a new six-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment includes a tilt and telescopic steering column, Bluetooth, and satellite radio.

Second-Generation Kia Sorento

The second-generation Kia Sorento
The second-generation Kia Sorento

2010 — For 2010, the Sorento sat out the model year.

2009 — For its final year, the first-generation Sorento offers no changes.

2008 — For 2008, Kia adds a 3.3-liter V6 engine, replacing the previous 3.5-liter V6.

2007 — A refreshed Sorento debuts with an updated exterior and interior. A new V6 engine displacing at 3.8 liters debuts. Towing capacity is increased from 3,500 to 5,000 pounds.

2006 — Alloy wheels are now standard across the model line.

2005 — For 2005 the automatic transmission is now a five speed. Other changes are limited to package upgrades.

2004 — The LX grade now offers a sport package complete with a five-speed manual transmission, alloy wheels, side step bars and other enhancements.

2003 — The original Kia Sorento is a truck-based, medium-sized SUV with room for five. Available in LX and EX trims, all models are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine paired with a four-speed automatic transmission.

First-Generation Kia Sorento

The first-generation Kia Sorento
The first-generation Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento Considerations

Kia offers a dual thrust in the midsize crossover market with the Sorento and Telluride. The Telluride is the roomier of the two and more difficult to find thanks to high demand.

The three-row midsize segment contains numerous competitors for consideration. These models include the Chevrolet Traverse, Hyundai Palisade, Nissan Pathfinder, Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Honda Pilot, and the Ford Explorer. Additionally, the Toyota Highlander, Mazda CX-9, Dodge Durango, Subaru Ascent, Buick Enclave, Volkswagen Atlas, and the GMC Acadia are other models to weigh.

See AlsoKia Sorento: Style, Value, & Capability

Image by Greg Goebel from Loveland CO, USA – Yvsto_2b, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

By Vauxford – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

By Vauxford – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *