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Kia Sorento Concepts Point to Brand’s Desire To Battle Jeep, Ford

Kia has revealed two concepts – the Yosemite Edition and the Zion Edition – that it says shows the Korean’s automakers desire to bring customers a new level of trail-ready toughness not yet seen from the brand.

Kia has been evolving as a sporting brand over the last few years. Now, it wants buyers to consider it rugged with the introduction of the Sorento Yosemite and Zion concepts. Will it work?

That’s a good question because the Kia brand keeps evolving. It first came to our shores as a cheap, somewhat reliable mode of transportation. Now it is perceived as the sporty alternative to its corporate sibling Hyundai (but I’m sure the folks at Hyundai would disagree with that assessment).

Kia says the two new concepts signal the “brand’s focus on adventure, capability and trail readiness.” The concepts were introduced at the brand’s recently held, virtual national dealer meeting.

The first thought that comes to mind is Kia wants to tackle Jeep. It continues to build on its brute heritage with the recently announced Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 with 470 horsepower. That brand is massively successful and stealing even just a sliver of its sales would mean huge gains for Kia.

The second brand in Kia’s sights is Ford, which is working hard to maintain its off-road chops with the Bronco and the F-150. The Bronco R prototype was unveiled this week as part of the Baja 1000, the ultimate off-road test.

2021 Kia Sorento Zion Concept

The Sorento Yosemite Edition, according to Kia, aims at exploring high-elevation locales and mountain living. The Sorento Zion Edition is a dune-defeating desert escape vehicle, whatever the heck that means.

LGE-CTE Motorsports of San Dimas, California, customized both concepts. Last year, the company debuted the LGE-CTS Motorsports Baja Forged Ford F250. See? Kia went with a customizer with experience building Ford off-road concepts.

LGE CTS Motorsports F250 conceptKia Concepts
The Sorento Yosemite Edition is a dream build for high elevation adventuring and mountain living, painted in “Pine Green” in a matte finish with gloss and matte black accents. The Sorento Zion Edition is a desert escape vehicle made for stomping dunes, painted in “Desert Sand” in a gloss finish with gloss black accents.

Both feature custom fender flares that sit atop 20-inch wheels and 32-inch all-terrain tires. Body armor includes custom skid plates and brush guards in a satin chrome finish. For packing gear, the Yosemite edition wears a brawny roof rack, while the Zion Edition comes equipped with a full-length cargo top.

The two wilderness-themed SUVs build upon the production Sorento X-Line model, a variant that highlights off-road prowess with unique 20-inch wheels, increased ride height to 8.3-in., improved approach/departure angles, more advanced AWD with snow-mode, and a more robust roof rack than the outgoing Sorento.

2021 Kia Sorento Yosemite Concept

The two concepts will be touring the country to whet consumers’ appetites for Kia’s range of port-installed and dealer-installed accessories. Customers can tailor their Sorento with attachments such as roof rack crossbars, tow hitches for trailers, and side steps for easier load-in of toys.

The new 2021 Kia Sorento hits dealers this month. Its lineup includes a plug-in hybrid model. That’s definitely not targeted to off-roading, unless you have a really long extension cord.

Keith Griffin covers Hyundai and Kia at Torque News. He has been writing continuously about cars since 2002. Keith used to be a researcher/writer for US News & World Report, as well as numerous car sites, including Carfax and Car Gurus, and a contributor to The Boston Globe. Most recently, Keith was the managing editor for American Business Media. Follow Keith at @indepthauto on Twitter, on @LinkedIn and on his Indepth Auto Facebook page.