Yes, these photos snagged by our spy shooters show a refreshed version of the Kia Sorento three-row crossover testing on Germany’s famous Nürburgring. Don’t think this means Kia is building a sport-tuned SUV: it’s now fairly common for automakers to button-down all sorts of vehicle suspension designs on the Nordschleife.
We previously spotted the Kia Sorento being tested in the snow, and as before an abundance of heavy camouflage obscures most of the visual updates. We expect the crossover’s nose will be softened a bit, and it may gain the LED running lights seen on many other new Kia vehicles. The rear appears to show a different taillight design, and it’s possible the entire rear fascia could be tweaked.
There are unlikely to be major changes under the hood; the Sorento was only launched for the 2010 model year and already received a new direct-injection, 191-hp four-cylinder engine for 2012. It seems likely, however, that the non-DI base four-cylinder engine, which has 175 hp, might be nixed from the options list. The new direct-injection mill is both more powerful and more efficient than the old engine, rendering it obsolete.
The fact that this Kia Sorento is being tested on the ‘Ring also suggests some suspension changes are in store. Most likely those comprise different spring and shock absorber settings; we don’t believe that Kia is developing a high-performance or sporting version of its crossover.
The refreshed Kia Sorento will be labeled a 2014 model, and it may debut by the end of this year or in early 2013.