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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

US-spec Kia Sorento revealed as a possible local market influencer?

Based on past generations, and retention of a V6 in Australia, a slim possibility exists of local models receiving a petrol option.

Already out in Europe and with the possibility of still making it to South Africa before the end of the year, Kia has unveiled the North America market Sorento possibly equipped with a number of features local model could receive.

Slotting-in below the Telluride, the Sorento’s exterior differences from the model sold in South Korea and the Old Continent are minor and limited to the orange indicator repeaters on the front wheel arches and six alloy wheel designs with sizes ranging from 17 to 20-inches. The interior also continues unchanged with seating for five or seven, as well as a selection of materials and finishes ranging from quilted leather to satin inlays, open-pre dark wood and metal effect textures.

Riding on the same N3 platform as its siblings, therefore making it longer and wider than its predecessor, but lighter by some 80 kg, the expansive Sorento line-up consists of five trim levels; LX, S, EX, SX, SX Prestige and the new off-road focused X-Line SX Prestige that comes as standard with  torque-on-demand all-wheel-drive, unique front and rear bumpers, a roof rack, locking centre differential, Downhill Descent Control and a 25 mm ride height increase for a final ground clearance of 211 mm.

Compared to its siblings, the biggest change resides underneath the bonnet where the 2.2 Smartstream turbodiesel engine has been eschewed in favour of a normally aspirated 140kW/247Nm 2.5-litre petrol, the 210kW/422Nm 2.5 T-GDI from the K5 GT and from next year, the European model’s 162kW/350Nm 1.6 T-GDI hybrid as well as a plug-in hybrid of the same displacement, but with a combined output of 191 kW plus an all-electric range of 48 km.

On both the former engines, drive is routed to the front or all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic or a similar ratio dual-clutch gearbox, while the hybrids receive a six-speed automatic with the only the plug-in version being all-wheel-drive.

In terms of features, and likely to depend on the trim grade, the Sorento boasts up to eight USB ports, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, surround view camera system, an eight or 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a wireless smartphone charger, Rear Occupant Alert and a twelve-speaker Bose sound system.

More extensive is the suite of safety and driver assistance tech, made up of no less than 16 systems under Kia’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems umbrella. Those fitted as standard are Forward Collision Warning, Driver Attention Warning, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with or without Pedestrian Detection, Intelligent Speed Limit Assist, Lane Following Assist and Lead Vehicle Departure.

Available from the options list is a revised Blind Spot Collision Avoidance system now with Parallel Exit, Cyclist Detection for the Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with Junction Turning, Parking Collision Avoidance Assist, Parking Distance Warning Reverse, Highway Driving Assist and adaptive navigation based Smart Cruise Control.

Projected to retail from $30 000 (R510 405) with sales starting later this year, it remains to be seen how the US-spec Sorento could potentially influence the South African market version, although chances are that it might solely be in the spec and safety systems department.

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