“We gave 100%”: Kia designers talk about the new Sorento
The design of the Kia Sorento is definitely a success: the large crossover looks elegant and sporty, there are many interesting details that you want to consider for a long time. All this is the result of the hard work of talented designers Kia. Want to take a look behind the scenes of their creative work? We present an interview with the artists who were responsible for the exterior and interior of the novelty.
Seo Ji Won is Kia’s senior designer responsible for the exterior of the new Sorento. We asked him about the evolution of crossover design and what makes the latest generation of the model so attractive.
What are the unique design characteristics of each generation model?
The first generation Sorento was a classic short wheelbase SUV with long overhangs and a tall "chunky" body. The second-generation monocoque Sorento had a longer wheelbase and a lower body, bringing its proportions closer to those considered “golden" in car design. It was already more aerodynamic, more urban design, with a maximum of space and convenience for passengers. In the third generation, the model acquired even softer, smoother forms and became more elegant.
The fourth generation Sorento on the new platform represents an equally significant step forward in a new direction. Sorento becomes more brutal, bolder, with a stronger character.
How has the tiger smile grille evolved on the Sorento?
At the front of the new Sorento, we see a reinterpretation of the signature tiger smile grille that first appeared on the second-generation crossover. It has become wider and is naturally continued by integrated headlights. The headlights feature new “tiger stripes” – LED daytime running lights that create an additional bright accent, forming a kind of stripes framing the eyes of a tiger.
This expressive and self-confident image is complemented by a wide lower air intake with “wings” of thin air ducts at the edges. The sharp lower edge of the bumper is completed by a protective plate, enhancing the brutality in appearance. In addition, the new generation has become wider than the previous one.
What design elements of previous generations of Sorento have you tried to keep?
Sorento remains recognizable thanks to the characteristic wide C-pillar, the overall massiveness of the body and the plastic lining on the arches of the wings. All these features determined the appearance of three generations of the model. In the new generation, we tried to add sharp edges to the sculptural forms, which give the car a more sophisticated, even chic look.
What is the "refined boldness" that describes the exterior of the new Sorento?
Inspired by the concept of “graceful boldness” invented for the new Sorento, Kia designers sought to preserve the brutal aesthetics of previous generations of Sorento, but at the same time add a certain amount of refinement, elegance and even sportiness to the car. Therefore, the body has more straight lines and sharp edges, it has become more sculpted than its streamlined predecessor. With more modern geometric details, longer proportions and a rearward-facing cab, the design is more confident, mature, more desirable than ever before.
What is the characteristic line on the body of the Sorento?
Looking at the car in profile, we can see that the proportions of the Sorento have changed a bit, making it look longer. The wheelbase has increased, and this has subtly affected the perception of the crossover, it has become visually longer and more dynamic. The edge of the bonnet wraps around the front fenders and becomes a strong characteristic line that runs along the sidewalls and into the taillights. The large hood of the "island" design further emphasizes the length of the car and its impressive volumes.
What significance did the new platform play in the exterior design?
The new Sorento provides an outstanding amount of space for people and luggage through a thoughtful layout. Thanks to this, the crossover is one of the most versatile and spacious in its class. The new platform is built around a more compact engine bay with short overhangs and a longer wheelbase, leaving more cabin space between the axles. This allowed not only to create a more stylish design and increase the cabin; the structure and layout of the new platform also mean that the Sorento is safer and can be made more powerful.
It looks both brutal and elegant, depending on the angle.
We gave 100% to achieve this effect. We wanted the Sorento to look strong and confident from the front, but sleek and elegant from the side. It’s all about the magic of the characteristic line on the sidewall. Usually on crossovers and SUVs, this line is horizontal to support the rectangular rear end typical of this class of car. However, the characteristic line on the Sorento is arched, almost like on sedans. Thanks to this, the design as a whole looks elegant and swift, despite the clearly defined angles throughout the body.
What is the concept behind the design of the rear of the Sorento, especially the lights?
The new Sorento gets new vertical taillights that extend into the side of the body, an element inspired by the even larger SUV, the new Telluride. Sharp edges echo the clear geometric lines of the front of the car, while horizontal elements make the body visually wider and more imposing. The underside of the rear bumper is trimmed to mimic twin tailpipes, while an underbody protection plate extends over the rear bumper to enhance the vehicle’s off-road aesthetic. As with other Kia models of the latest generation, the name "Sorento" is in large letters in the center of the tailgate
What design elements do you find most attractive?
I’d say it’s the aforementioned grille with integrated headlights and tiger eye stripe-style LED daytime running lights. The grille itself also looks great, the cells of which are made in the style of Crystal Flake (“crystal scales”), inspired by the shape of snowflakes and precious stones.
The “shark fin” on the C-pillar also invariably attracts attention. And I want to once again draw attention to the vertical air intakes in the front bumper – usually such details are used on sedans or sports cars to give a more sporty look.
Interior and color
The new Kia Sorento has completely changed not only outside, but also inside. Senior Designer Kim Yong Moo from Kia’s interior design department and designer Choi Yong Hee from the color department talked about what makes the Sorento’s interior unique and what new colors have been developed for the new generation of crossover.
What can you tell us about the interior concept?
The fourth-generation Kia Sorento’s interior concept was "Functional Emotionality". This is one of the highest quality interiors on modern Kia. Technological interior with intuitive controls is riddled with straight lines. At the same time, it retains the spaciousness and versatility that have always characterized the interior of the Sorento.
Tell us more about the Sorento interior design.
The attractive, premium-feeling interior features next-generation dual-screen architecture at the front. The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is complemented by a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen in the center of the dashboard. These displays put information in the driver’s line of sight and create an innovative widescreen cockpit. Many of the vehicle’s functions can also be controlled using touch buttons with tactile feedback located at the edges of the screen. The same buttons are located below on the center console and are used to control the climate control system.
A number of other technologies are discreetly integrated into the interior of the new Sorento, such as the Crystal Mood ambient lighting system. It emits soft background light downwards from under the door and dash trims, creating a lounge-like feel and highlighting the cabin’s spaciousness. The eye-catcher on the front fascia is the vertical chrome-look air vents that continue below the center console.
Is there anything special for passengers?
A practical feature of the Sorento was the third row for passengers, and in the new generation, the crossover offers them even more convenience. The second row seats can now be moved further, making access to the third row easier and providing more legroom for rear passengers. Sitting in the seat, third-row passengers will notice the increased length of the armrest on the third row, thanks to which it was possible to place a cup holder and a smartphone compartment in it. These features make the Sorento a great family crossover.
Tell us about the new color for Sorento and the features of each color.
Mineral Blue has been specially developed for the new Sorento. It is inspired by the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean and symbolizes huge waves in which minerals shimmer. The paintwork is made with the addition of Xirallic blue and pearl white "shimmering" pigment. It emphasizes the crossover’s sculptural forms and gives it a serious yet trendy look.
The Sorento is also available in Pearl White, Steel Gray Silver, Aurora Black Pearl, Platinum Graphite Dark Platinum and Essence Brown. All of these colors look harmonious on the new Sorento and will suit a variety of tastes and lifestyles.
The volumetric finish of the panels looks very elegant.
It took us a lot of effort to reflect the refined character of the new Sorento in the finishes and at the same time retain its brutal nature. One example of this is the diamond pattern on the aluminum-look trim on the front panel. In addition, the interior of the new Sorento is decorated with metal surfaces, on which a pattern of lines as thick as a human hair is applied. Sophistication incarnate!