Many automakers are introducing new direct-injection engines across their lineups, which can offer more horsepower at the same time as improving fuel economy. Kia has employed the same strategy for the Sorento SUV, endowing it with a 2.4-liter direct-injection four-cylinder for the 2012 model year.

Kia hasn't yet shared the power outputs or economy ratings of the new engine, but in the 2011 Optima sedan, that same engine peaks at 200 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. Presently, the 2011 Sorento is offered with a choice of two engines: a non-DI 2.4-liter inline-four with 175 hp and 169 lb-ft, and a 3.5-liter V-6 with 276 hp and 248 lb-ft.

When equipped with the four-cylinder and front-wheel-drive, the 2011 Sorento's fuel economy comes in at 21/29 mpg (city/highway). Expect those figures to climb slightly with the new engine, despite the addition of more horsepower. Interestingly, Sorentos built with the new DI engine also receive chromed dual exhaust tips as a small cosmetic improvement.

In other upgrades for 2012, both the Sorento and Sportage gain Yes-Essentials seat upholstery materials that resist stains and bacteria. Seventeen-inch wheels are now standard on base Sportage models, replacing 16-inchers. The Sorento gains optional power-folding mirrors, a new wheel design for EX trims, and a heated wood-trimmed steering wheel for range-topping SX models.

Source: Kia