From the original Sorento’s reveal back in 2002 to the all-new, fourth-generation model, Kia’s large family SUV has forged its own distinctive visual path. Here, Senior Designer Seo JeWon takes us through the new model’s design evolution.
What are the unique design characteristics of each generation?
“The first generation was a very traditional SUV for its body-on-frame design. The design contained a short wheelbase and long overhangs. The second-generation Sorento has a longer wheelbase and lower body. Its sleek, urban design gained extra space and convenience. The third-generation model got much softer, with a voluptuous body and elegant looks.
“Now, on the new platform, the fourth-generation Sorento represents a similar leap forward, engineered to maximise driving stability in all environments. Sorento is becoming more robust, bolder, and stronger.”
How did the Sorento’s ‘tiger-nose’ grille evolve?
“The front of the Sorento evolves with a new interpretation of Kia’s hallmark ‘tiger-nose’ grille, which first featured on the second-generation model. It displays a wider shape that organically wraps around the integrated headlamps on each side. The headlamps themselves feature a new ‘tiger eyeliner’ LED daytime running light (DRL), adding extra focus to the design by depicting the intense impression of the lines around a tiger’s eyes.
“This sharper, more assertive appearance is complemented by a wide, rectangular lower air intake, bookended by wing-shaped air curtains to channel air around the car. A sharp bumper lip is also capped with a skid plate, enhancing its robust appearance. The new model is wider than the third-generation Sorento.”
Which design element of earlier generations of Sorento did you try to retain?
“The new model retains the characteristic wide D-pillar, substantial bodywork and clad wheel arches that have defined all three generations to-date. It also has sculpted body surfaces with sharp creases, giving it a more sophisticated and chic look.”
What does the concept ‘Refined Boldness’ suggest?
“The concept of ‘refined boldness’ inspired Kia’s designers, who sought to maintain the robust, tough-looking aesthetic of earlier generations of Sorento. It applies a greater degree of refinement and elegance and even a sense of sportiness. The body work incorporates shape lines and creases – noticeably more sculpted than its more round-edged predecessor. With more contemporary geometric details and more swept-back, elongated proportions, the result is a more confident, more mature and more desirable design than ever.”
What does the character line represent?
“The subtle changes of the fourth-generation Sorento has made the overall profile appear longer and faster. The additional length can be found in the wheelbase, adding to the visual characteristics of the Sorento. The trailing edge of the bonnet wraps around the front wings as it turns into a single, stronger character line that extends along the side of the Sorento and into the rear lamps.”
Did the new platform play a huge part as you designed the exterior?
“The new platform is based around a compact engine bay structure and shorter front and rear overhangs, with a longer wheelbase creating greater cabin space between the axles. Not only does this enable the new model’s stylish design and a bigger cabin; the structure and layout of the new platform mean the Sorento is able to be more powerful and safer.
“We poured our hearts into this new look. We wanted to make the Sorento look strong at the front, but slender and sleek from the side. The side character line did all the magic.”
How would you describe the rear design elements, especially the tail lamps?
“Inspired by the Telluride, the Sorento adopts new vertical tail lamps which wrap around the sides of the body. Sharper lines in the bodywork echo the straight, technical appearance of the front of the car, with horizontal shapes used to make the vehicle appear wider and more imposing on the road. Trim on the sporty lower rear bumper embodies the appearance of dual tailpipes and, like the front, features a skid plate to add to its tough SUV aesthetic. The next-generation model follows other recent Kia models, with the bigger Sorento model name displayed centrally across the tailgate.”
Which design feature is the most attractive?
“The shark fin garnish at the C-pillar is quite a catch. This sharper, more assertive appearance is complemented by a wider rectangular lower air intake, bookended by wing-shaped air curtains that channel air around the car. These are usually used on sedans or sports cars, but the fourth-generation Sorento achieved the A-sharp bumper lip that is capped with a skid plate to enhance its robust appearance.”