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It’s that time of year again. 2021 models are coming out, and the critics are plucking these new rides to evaluate and offer reviews on all the new rides. One SUV everyone seems to be excited about is the entirely fresh 2021 Kia Sorento. And the folks at CNET recently spent some quality time with this new crossover.

There is plenty to be enthusiastic about with the all-new 2021 Kia Sorento. And there are a ton of configuration possibilities to build-out the perfect-for-you SUV. While most of the CNET team’s feedback is favorable, they do point out one area of concern relating to the Sorento’s transmission design.

The overall first impression of the 2021 Kia Sorento

CNET got their hands on a new 2021 Kia Sorento and immediately were impressed. Most of the reviews are positive with these first drive evaluations across other automotive platforms, as well. The Sorento is stylish, with its own unique look, from the textured grille to the sleek side panel lines.

On the outside, the first impression is fantastic. This Kia Sorento has plenty of personality and is looking to distinguish itself from its Telluride and Seltos siblings. Edmunds says it’s so revolutionary for Kia that it almost feels like an entirely different automaker brand at first.

A transmission concern that can’t be overlooked

The 2.5-liter turbocharged engine doesn’t disappoint, and the driving dynamics are generally responsive. But it’s the eight-speed automatic transmission that gave CNET some degree of pause.

Instead of the traditional torque converter, the 2021 Kia Sorento has a dual wet-clutch design. The CNET critics weren’t sure why Kia opted for this transmission version, but to them, it might be concerning.

The dual wet-clutch design is responsible for a slow to respond transmission at lower speeds. And you might even feel disconnected as you press the gas pedal. CNET cited a jitter upon take-off, too.

Other design features that may have you scratching your head

The transmission design wasn’t the only head-scratching engineer decision the CNET critics pointed out. Inside, Kia opted for physical buttons and switches for the climate control functions. But these buttons positioned high on the dash, with close proximity and in a way that seems too crowded.

The air vents came up in conversation, as well. The odd, trapezoid openings seem to work, but the tiny vents below each outlet could present no value to the airflow at all. They even pointed out a bizarre layout of the primary cluster display. There is a section that seems completely out of place and totally irrelevant.

Despite the setbacks, CNET really loved this first drive

Ok, those few setbacks aside, CNET and everyone else so far seems to love this new 2021 Kia Sorento. You’ll have your choice of five trims, four powertrains, and front or all-wheel drive.

The Edmunds reviews point out how stable and controlled the drive is with this new Sorento. It’s clear Kia has come with it’s A-game and radically improved this crossover.

The Sorento offers a marriage of practicality, luxury, potential performance, and versatility in a new and above-average way. And if you don’t mind the positioning of the interior vents or a slight hesitation during take-off from a stop, you’ll probably love it, too.


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