We've caught camouflaged prototypes testing on Germany's famed Nuerburgring and knew changes were coming to Kia's bread-and-butter midsize SUV. Since switching from its body-on-frame platform to a transverse unibody design for the 2011 model year in the U.S. market, the Sorento has been one of the brand's consistent best-sellers, coming second only to the red-hot Optima midsize sedan.
Despite the U.S. being the largest single market for the Sorento, it appears as though Europe may get first dibs on the new styling. In terms of what this means for the U.S. model, it means either an abbreviated 2013 model run with an early introduction of the 2014 or the U.S. market getting the updates after everyone else.
As you can see from the photos, exterior changes are relatively subtle. The most noticeable difference is the design of the rear taillights, which goes from the square, boxy style on the current model to a thinner, more tapered one that incorporates LED lighting (currently standard in the U.S.-spec SX trim). LED driving lights are also added to the headlights, like in its little brother Sportage, on EX and SX trims.
The release also promises an updated interior with more soft-touch surfaces and an updated powertrain lineup. Since the Sorento is already sold in Europe with a four-cylinder turbodiesel, it's likely that engine choices will differ for the U.S. model. With the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe getting all-new engines, the updated Sorento could also get similar changes. We're almost certain the 2.4-liter GDI four-cylinder, currently optional on the entry-level LX trim, will become the new standard engine. Whether the Sorento will follow the Santa Fe's suit with an available turbo four and 3.3-liter GDI V-6 remains to be seen, but it will likely get one or both those engine options along with its exterior refresh.