Kia's 2013 Sorento is a tricky one to define: there's an all-new platform underneath, but to the average passer-by, the big SUV could easily be written off as a mere makeover. This month, Australian buyers will get a chance to feel the difference.
As makeovers go, tweaks to the 2013 Sorento would be classed as subtle. Mechanically, it's a different story.
The new architecture is the selling point here, but there's also updated engines and a host of new features.
Styling changes are the usual tweaks, of course. There are new LED-loaded lights at both ends (completely restyled at the rear), along with a shorter grille, new bumpers and new wheels - including a large new 19-inch option.
Inside, there are new soft-touch surfaces, an eight-inch centre display (up from the current 6.5-inch option) and a new LCD screen in the instrument cluster.
There's also a new centre console with a straight-gate gear selector and, in automatic models, a leather-booted lever.
The Sorento's optional panoramic sunroof also does away with the centre cross-beam - thanks to the stronger new platform - offering a clearer view and more natural light. The panoramic roof also features a powered blind.
There's now also 30mm more legroom in the second row, and a further 9mm in the third row of seats.
Peel back the skin and you'll find a version of the platform underpinning Hyundai's upcoming new Santa Fe.
As always, Kia has made its own changes, and the carmaker promises a stronger bodyshell than the outgoing Sorento.
The new model gets new ultra-high tensile steel - which Kia claims is 25 percent stronger than in most of the Sorento's rivals - designed to deliver greater rigidity and better crash protection.
The Korean carmaker says torsional rigidity is improved by 18 percent, contributing to a more refined ride, with greater comfort and handling.
The suspension package, which continues with MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear, benefits from numerous tweaks and upgraded cross-members.
Unlike the current model, which arrived a little too soon and picked up only basic tweaks, the 2013 Sorento will benefit from Kia Australia's full tuning program to suit local conditions.
Kia says the changes - both local and with the new global enhancements - are a response to buyer feedback.
And while an all-new look for the Sorento is on the way, the platform of the 2013 model marks a major step forward for the big SUV.
There are also improvements behind the pedal. In Australia, the 2013 Sorento is expected to continue with the 2.2 litre R-Series diesel and 3.5 litre V6 petrol options, but both have come in for an efficiency-focused massaging.
The 145kW 2.2 diesel gains a new exhaust-gas recirculation system, reducing CO2 emissions to 153 g/km - down from 177g/km in local models.
The 3.5 litre V6 will remain available, and an improved version of the 2.4 litre petrol engine features in the overseas Sorento - delivering nine percent more power and seven percent greater torque - could also make its way to Australia if needed.
Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions will feature, along with front-wheel-drive and on-demand (but lockable) all-wheel-drive layouts.
The 2013 Sorento will be launched in Australia this month.
Full local specification and pricing will be announced closer to next week's launch event. Watch for TMR's 'first drive' review.
- Related News & Reviews at TMR ▼
- Sorento news and reviews | Kia news and reviews
- SUV news and reviews | Family Car news and reviews
- Interested in buying KIA SORENTO? Visit our KIA SORENTO showroom for more information.