New Model News

Kia reveals an electrifying powertrain lineup for the redesigned 2021 Sorento in the U.S.

The Kia Sorento has undergone a bold redo for 2021

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

We already knew what the redesigned 2021 Kia Sorento would look like thanks to its global reveal in March. Now we now what the U.S.-spec will be getting.

The Sorento will be available to U.S. customers in a new X-Line trim. It features a one-inch lift resulting in improved approach and departure angles. The grade also includes all-wheel drive with Snow mode, and a more robust roof rack.

201 Kia Sorento SX The Sorento has a new, sturdier roof rack.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia will offer the Sorento with four engine options in the U.S. The base power plant is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine achieves 191 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. It achieves 27 mpg combined. Front-wheel drive is standard with this engine and all-wheel drive is available.

Buyers will be able to upgrade the base model Sorento to get a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood that delivers 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with an eight-speed wet-clutch dual-clutch transmission - the same as what is offered in the Hyundai Veloster N - and is expected to achieve 25 mpg combined. Front-wheel drive is standard with this engine and all-wheel drive is available.

The front-wheel drive Sonata Hybrid will feature a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that is paired with a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, 44.2 kWh electric motor, and six-speed automatic transmission.. That powertrain produces approximately 227 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That's more powerful than the standard four-cylinder in the 2020 Sorento but less horsepower than buyers would get with the 2020 Sorento with a V6. Kia says the model gets 37 mpg combined.

201 Kia Sorento X-Line The new Sorento X-Line model features black design accents and wheels.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

That same engine powers an all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid variant of the model that will be available in 2021 and feature 261 horsepower and 30 miles of all-electric range.

U.S. drivers will be able to configure the model with either 4+2 or 5+2 seating. The three-row SUV offers best-in-class front and rear legroom and overall interior passenger volume.

The fully upgraded interior includes a standard 8.0-inch infotainment touch screen that gets bumped up to a 10.25-inch screen in higher trim levels. An available 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster is available. There are eight USB charging ports (six in the LX model) and the larger screen allows for dual-phone Bluetooth Capability.

2021 Kia Sorento The interior of the Sorento features a new design for the automaker.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Opting for a system with UVO telematics adds cloud-based connected routing that allows navigation to be adjusted in real time according to evolving traffic and road conditions. There’s also weather information for up to 25,000 cities, voice assistant functionality, keyless entry user profiles, smart speaker integration, and advanced notifications for things like extended idle times and rear occupancy alerts. The system will automatically contact 911 should it sense that an airbag has deployed.

For the first time, Kia offers the model with on-demand Find My Car functionality with surround view technology that captures images of the vehicle’s surroundings then pushes them to the Kia Access Uvo app to aid in location. Additionally, last mile navigation provides walking directions to a final destination if the vehicle is parked between 0.1 and 1.2 miles away from the destination as entered in the navigation system.

A 12-speaker Bose sound system and wireless charging capability is available.

2021 Kia Sorento A 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen is available, Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia has given the Sorento a host of standard safety features including forward collision avoidance assist, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, and rear occupant alert. Blind spot collision avoidance assist, passenger safe exit, and blind view monitor technologies are available.

The 2021 Sorento is assembled in West Point, Georgia alongside the Telluride and the K5.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Motor racing boss Tony Vandervell (standing behind car) inspecting a new motor car with a group of mechanics, April 12th 1952.

Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In the early 1950s, Tony Vandervell took the considerable money he made producing thin-wall bearings and his passion for speed, marrying them together and forming Vanwall. The racing team constructed their first Formula One cars for the 1954 season and achieved their first win at the 1957 British Grand Prix, becoming the first British-built car to win a World Championship race. The company won the first F1 Constructors' Championship in 1958 with six wins.

In those days Vanwall cars, with Stirling Moss behind the wheel, were known for their unique engineering. Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus Cars, designed their chassis. Famed automotive engineer Frank Costin, best known for his advancement of monocoque chassis design, created the car's aerodynamics.

1957 Pescara Grand Prix Stirling Moss of Great Britain driving the #26 Vandervell Products Vanwall VW5 takes the checkered flag to win the Pescara Grand Prix on August 18, 1957 at the Pescara Circuit near Pescara, Italy. Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Their cars used disc brakes rather than the drum brakes that were popular in F1 at the time. This is cited as the main advantage Vanwall had over Ferrari on the track.

By late 1959, the failing health of Vandervell caused the team to pull out of racing. The Vanwall name was dormant until 2013 when Iain Sanderson purchased the trademark.

Sanderson will now offer five continuation cars for sale out of six constructed. The remaining car will be heart of a Vanwall Historic Racing Team.

"The Vanwall name is too important to consign to history," said Sanderson. "The Vanwall story is untold to many, but it is a great British tale of innovation and achievement and shows what happens when the right team come together and push themselves fearlessly to reach a clearly defined goal. On this anniversary, we think the time is right to celebrate this great British story of success. Faithfully recreating the iconic 1958 championship winning car with six 100-percent accurate and authentic continuation cars is a fitting tribute to their historic success. The DNA that made those cars so successful also serves as an inspiring foundation for the future of the Vanwall marque, which I look forward to sharing in due course."

The vehicles will take thousands of hours to build and will be crated by historic racing and vehicle restoration experts from Hall and Hall in Lincolnshire, England. The continuation cars will have a 270 brake horsepower 2,489cc Vanwall engine powering them. Each engine has been engineered using original drawings and blueprints from the 1950s.

The cost of each car is £1.65 million excluding VAT.

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The Subaru Crosstrek has been revised for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek is an excellent example of what can happen when a car company stops spending its time, efforts, and marketing dollars on chasing the biggest competitors in the room and chooses instead to focus entirely on building and selling what its customers want.

The Crosstrek received a significant overhaul for the 2018 model year, but it's the updates that Subaru put in place for 2021 that have genuinely made it a complete car. Headlining the changes is a newly available engine, which at 2.5 liters is both larger and more powerful than the 2.0-liter mill that powered the Crosstrek line before. The car also got a nose job and new standard safety gear for 2021.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport The Crosstrek has been given a new face.Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is adequate but lacks power where it counts. With the lesser engine on board, reaching highway speeds is a real chore. There's far more noise and vibration involved than there should be, which accentuates the fact that, no matter how hard you stomp the accelerator pedal, it's not going anywhere fast.

The available 2.5-liter four-cylinder spices things up considerably, with 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. It's still paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), but the extra power mitigates many of the transmission's annoying quirks and makes the vehicle much more engaging overall. It's more refined, has great low-end grunt, and is much quieter in everyday use.

As you'd expect, a tall ride height makes the car more useful when the pavement ends, but what you might not expect is how well Subaru has tuned the suspension and chassis to gracefully deal with the lifted body. For the most part, the ride is sublime, as the beefy suspension and tires soak up all but the worst potholes and broken pavement. Despite that, the Crosstrek, which comes standard with all-wheel drive, remains surefooted when pushed, and like many crossovers, doesn't feel floppy or soft in the corners.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport The dimensions of the Crosstrek have remained basically the same for the 2021 model year.Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The Crosstrek's surprisingly spacious interior is a pleasant place to spend time, but luxurious is not a word that comes to mind to describe the cabin in any of the car's trim levels. Form here follows function, but that's not a terrible thing. Headroom is generous in both rows, though the driving position can lead shorter drivers to feel like their face is uncomfortably close to the windshield. Even so, there's plenty of hip and shoulder room, both front and back, and the back seat can squeeze a full-size rear-facing car seat without breaking a sweat.

The Sport trim I tested comes with synthetic leather upholstery that Subaru calls "StarTex," which is essentially a high-tech polyurethane material made from recycled plastics. It's far from leather, but it's equally as far from feeling entry-level or cheap. It's a different thing altogether, and while I didn't get to take my dog for a ride or take the car camping, I can see several situations where a water- and dirt-resistant synthetic upholstery material could come in handy.

The optional 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen sits high on the dash, making for excellent visibility and usability from either of the front seats. The upgraded screen in the Crosstrek Sport is a 1.5-inch step up from the standard display and makes good use of the extra real estate with bright, crisp text and images. It comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM radio, Bluetooth, two USB ports, voice controls, and HD Radio. The top-level Limited trim gets the same display with navigation, but most people will be just fine with maps provided by Apple or Google in other trim levels.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport The interior of the Crosstrek is perfectly functional.Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

It'd be irresponsible to write this entire review without mentioning Subaru's safety efforts in the new car. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) hasn't crashed the 2021 Crosstrek yet, but the organization awarded the 2020 model, which has the same core body structure, a Top Safety Pick designation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rated it five stars overall.

Those successes come thanks in part to Subaru's standard EyeSight technology, which brings driver assistance features like pre-collision braking, lane departure alerts, and adaptive cruise control. The Sport trim adds high beam assist and is available with blind-spot monitors.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport Dark accents and wheels make the Crosstrek Sport stand out in a crowd.Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

If there's one thing that Subaru does better than anybody else, it's listening to its customers. The automaker knows that its buyers want a comfortable car but need one that won't fall apart at the first sign of abuse. It also knows that many people who walk onto a dealer's lot looking for a new Crosstrek are doing so because they believe it will be better for their active lifestyle, better at transporting their pets, and better at keeping them safe. The best part about all of that for buyers, besides the fact that their car company listens to them, is that Subaru hit the mark on all accounts.

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