Kia is giving its popular Sorento SUV a midlife makeover for 2007.

Exterior changes will require a studious eye, but they amount to new projector-beam headlamps and reworked front and rear bumper trims, with certain models receiving new wheel designs. The changes likely won't do much to alter existing opinions on the SUV, as they are so subtle as to virtually elude detection altogether. Fortunately for Korean automaker Kia, the Sorento is widely regarded as one of the most handsome midsize SUVs out there to begin with.

Sorento's real improvements lurk underhood and on the inside. In the engine room, a new all-aluminum V6 displacing 3.8-liters offers 262 horsepower -- a substantial 36-percent increase over 2006 models, with 260 lb.-ft. of torque routed through a five-speed slushbox (w/manual override). The influx of gumption not only helps expedite the Sorento's reactions, it also bumps towing capacity to a class-topping 5,000 pounds.

(More NYC show photographs, impressions and press release after the jump!)

The Sorento's interior receives a new instrument binnacle, center stack, floor console, and 'wood and metal trim materials,' and steering wheel audio controls, among other changes. The silver EX shown here surprised with its above-average fit-and-finish, as well as handsome silver and black trim, but the HVAC controls sit a bit lower in the center stack than we like, and satellite navigation remains conspicuous by its absence on the options sheet.

Safety-wise, all Sorrentos arrive packing four-wheel discs with ABS/stability control/traction control, along with active headrests, tire pressure monitoring, and a litany of airbags (two-stage fronts, driver's knee and full-length side curtains).

The Sorento was one of Kia's first offerings that consumers sought out for more than just a discount price. The improvements for 2007 should do more than keep that streak alive.

2007 Kia Sorento Makes North American Debut at New York Auto Show;

Mid-size SUV Offers More Power, More Standard Safety and Further Illustrates the ``Power to Surprise''

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 13, 2006--(Grassroots Newswire)- Kia Motors America (KMA) today unveiled the 2007 redesigned Sorento midsize SUV during a press conference at the New York Auto Show. The 2007 Sorento sports a new, more powerful, all-aluminum V6 engine producing 262 horsepower - more than Toyota Highlander V6, Ford Explorer V6 and Toyota 4Runner V8 - more standard safety, class-leading towing capacity and an all-new interior.

"The Sorento SUV is the third in a line of six new or facelifted vehicles Kia will unveil in 2006," said Len Hunt, executive vice president and COO of KMA. "With more power and safety, class-leading towing capacity and a refined interior, it's yet another example of how the Kia brand gives consumers confidence, integrity and value in its products."

The award-winning five-passenger Sorento combines power, utility and style with a new standard for value in its segment. For 2007, the versatile vehicle is loaded with comfort and convenience features, more standard safety features, provides capable on- and off-road performance and - like all Kias - is backed by one of the industry's best warranties.

Exterior Refinements

Available in LX and EX trim lines, as well as LX Sport Package and EX Luxury Package, and two-wheel or four-wheel drive, Sorento builds on the previous-generation model with subtle exterior refinements, including redesigned front headlamps with projection lights, a revised front grille insert, new front fascia and bumper, more rounded body-side cladding, and redesigned tail lamps and rear fascia with reflector inserts. A new 17-inch wheel comes with the optional LX Sport Package and a new 16-inch wheel design fits the EX, while carry-over 16-inch silver and machined wheel designs sit at the four corners of the LX and EX Luxury Package trims respectively.

Upgraded Interior and Packaging

More dramatic changes inside the vehicle take 2007 Sorento's interior to a new level. A new center fascia, gauge cluster and floor console are enveloped in new, upscale wood and metal trim materials, creating a functional and comfortable cabin feel. Inviting first- and second-row seats, with available leather on the Sport and Luxury Packages, feature front active headrests and a new rear seatback lever for easier reclining adjustment. Additional interior upgrades include a standard front passenger side central door lock, and revised steering wheel mounted cruise control and steering wheel mounted audio controls.

Standard comfort and convenience features include air conditioning (dual-zone auto on EX Luxury Package), power windows/door locks/heated mirrors, cruise control, 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, full overhead console with sunglass storage, map lights and garage door opener pocket, four 12-volt power outlets, eight-way adjustable driver's seat, 60/40 split flip-and-fold rear seats, rear privacy glass, cargo cover, roof rails and keyless entry with alarm.

LX Sport Package models have unique and exclusive black interior cloth or leather, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, side step bars, spoiler and the new 17-inch wheels and tires. The EX trim line features a power sunroof, heated power mirrors, fog lights, deluxe door scuff plates, eight-way power driver's seat, HomeLink (R) programmable remote system, trip computer in the multi-meter that includes outside temperature gauge, compass, average speed and travel time to the overhead console and new 16-inch alloy wheels. EX Luxury Package adds leather seating and interior trim, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, heated front seats, auto headlamps, chrome door handles, Torque-on-Demand(TM) (TOD) full-time four-wheel drive and 16-inch machined alloy wheels.

More Power and Performance

A new, all-aluminum, 3.8-liter V6 powerplant producing 262 horsepower - a 36-percent increase over the previous-generation engine - and 260 lb.-ft of torque is mated to an electronically controlled five-speed Sportmatic (R) transmission, allowing drivers to choose between automatic or manual shift mode. The new powertrain setup also yields a class-leading 5,000-pound towing capacity for true versatility and utility.

Featuring large four-wheel disc brakes and standard 16-inch tires and wheels, the Sorento is a serious performer, on-and off-road. A rugged, authentic SUV, the Sorento features body-on-frame construction with nine crossmembers, a double wishbone front suspension and a five-link solid rear axle. A long wheelbase (106.7 inches) and wide track (62.2 inches) provide a comfortable ride and excellent stability in all driving situations, while the short front and rear body overhangs allow the Sorento to navigate steep terrain.

The 2007 Sorento is available in both two-wheel- and four-wheel-drive configurations. In the two-wheel-drive version power is directed to the rear wheels, while the 4WD offering includes a part-time or a Torque-on-Demand(TM) automatic full-time four-wheel-drive system, depending upon the option package. The part-time four-wheel-drive system engages with the turn of a knob for convenient shift-on-the-fly operation and has a transfer case equipped with a low range for the most challenging off-road situations.

The full-time automatic Torque-On-Demand(TM) four-wheel-drive system, also with a low range, is available on the EX trim level as part of the Luxury Package. The system automatically detects wheel slippage 200 times per second, seamlessly transferring power between the rear and front wheels without requiring driver input. With Torque-On-Demand(TM), the Sorento provides all-weather, all-terrain capability.

Additionally, the Sorento offers an Eaton limited-slip differential that quietly transfers up to 50 percent of torque between the rear wheels as standard equipment on all four-wheel drive models.

Even More Standard Safety

Sorento offers even more standard safety features for 2007. Building on the previous model's five-star National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rating for both front and rear side impact crash tests, Sorento offers the following safety features as standard equipment across all trim lines: advanced two-stage airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic stability control (ESC) and traction control (TCS), tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), active front headrests, energy-absorbing steering column, driver knee airbag, rear child door locks, rear seat fixed upper and lower anchors for child safety seats (LATCH), and three-point seat belts for all seating positions with adjustable anchors and pretensioners with force limiters in front.

Industry-leading Warranty

Like all Kia models, the 2007 Sorento is covered by a comprehensive warranty program, which offers unprecedented consumer protection. Included in the package are a 10-year or 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty; a five-year or 60,000-mile limited basic warranty; and a five-year or 100,000-mile anti-perforation warranty. A five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan is also part of the comprehensive coverage program.

Kia Motors America is the sales, marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corp. in Seoul, South Korea. For more information, including photography, visit www.kiamedia.com.

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