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Kia bets big on Sorento to revitalize flagging sales

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Published : 2014-08-19 20:54
Updated : 2014-08-19 20:54

Kia Motors on Tuesday unveiled a fully altered version of its flagship sport utility vehicle, the Sorento, with which the carmaker hopes to revive its recent sluggish sales in South Korea.

The country’s second-largest automaker offered a sneak peek of the All New Sorento, ahead of its official launch next week, at the carmaker’s new global quality control center in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province.

“We have poured all of our resources into (making) a globally competitive SUV,” said In Chi-wang, executive vice president and general manager of the Sorento project.

“We are confident that the car has gained competitiveness through the harsh testing at the new quality control center.”
Kia Motors’ All New Sorento

Since its debut in 2002, the Sorento has sold 2.07 million vehicles globally.

Also, Kia has already secured sales contracts for more than 5,000 All New Sorentos since preorders began on Aug. 12, the company said.

The new masculine model, its first major revamp in five years, aims to lure male drivers in their 30s or 40s who enjoy riding with their family and dynamic driving.

The Hyundai Santa Fe and the Chevrolet Equinox were cited as its key competitors in Korea and the U.S., respectively.

The new Sorento has been tested traveling 1.1 million kilometers around the world to ensure safe driving in diverse road and weather conditions, officials said.

It has used high-strength steel for 53 percent of the framework, compared to 24 percent for its previous model, increasing the SUV’s overall durability and agility, the company said.

Despite the slightly reduced headroom, the wider body allows more room for passengers, especially young families who are now increasingly choosing SUVs for leisure activities.

New high-end features include a panoramic sunroof frame made of carbon fiber for the first time in Korea and an “active hood” that lifts the hood in the event of accidents to minimize pedestrian impact.

More specifications, including its price and fuel economy, are expected to be announced at the official launch event next week, officials said.

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)

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