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    Kia Sorento 2022 review: PHEV

    • DrivetrainPlug-in hybrid
    • Battery Capacity14kWh
    • Battery typeLithium-ion
    • Electric range68km (WLTP)
    • Plug TypeType 2
    • AC charge rate3.3kW
    • Electric motor output67kW/304Nm
    • Combustion engine output132kW/265Nm
    • Combined output195kW/350Nm
    • Petrol efficiency1.9L/100km
    Complete Guide to Kia Sorento

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    When the new-generation Kia Sorento launched in Australia over a year ago, there was a lot to like about it.

    It experienced a revolutionary design overhaul, had a versatile seven-seat interior, and was pleasant to drive. The only thing that seemed to be missing from an otherwise impressive package, was any kind of electrification.

    Indeed, launching with a big front-drive V6 was a bold move in 2020, with the only other option being a new 2.2-litre diesel. So despite its strides in refinement and design, the Sorento would still face stiff competition from the incoming hybrid Kluger.

    Enter this car, Kia’s first hybrid Sorento. Unlike its Toyota rival, the electrified Sorento is a plug-in rather than a ‘self-charging’ type, and it takes its place at the top of Kia’s price-scale as the flagship offering.

    Does it add another dimension to an already good seven-seater, or does it simply add too much to the price? We took one at its Australian launch to find out.

    Price and features - Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

    Kia’s first hybrid Sorento is not cheap. Far from it, actually. Only available in the top-spec GT-Line trim, the Sorento PHEV offers all the bells and whistles, but also packs a 14kWh battery pack good for nearly 70km of purely electric driving range.

    While that’s pretty impressive for a car this big, it also adds over $15,000 to the price compared to the next grade down, the 2.2 diesel AWD, bringing the total MSRP to $79,330. That’s close to premium car territory. Ouch.

    Standard gear at the GT-Line grade is great, including a 10.25-inch multimedia touchscreen, 12.3-inch digital dash, 8.0-inch head-up display, quilted Nappa leather interior trim, full electrical adjust for the front seats with heating and ventilation, dual-zone climate control, heated rear seats, a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, keyless entry with push-start ignition, ambient interior lighting, a 360-degree parking suite, and a motorised tailgate.

    Standard gear at the GT-Line grade is great, including a 10.25-inch multimedia touchscreen. (Image: Tom White) Standard gear at the GT-Line grade is great, including a 10.25-inch multimedia touchscreen. (Image: Tom White)

    There are only a few subtle differences for the PHEV over other GT-Lines, including a slightly extended use of piano-black trims, and 19-inch instead of 20-inch alloy wheels.

    It’s worth noting Kia only bundles the Sorento PHEV with a wall socket to Type 2 cable for charging, you’ll need to bring your own Type 2 to Type 2 cable to make the most of public charging opportunities.

    It’s challenging price tag puts it well above rivals like the Toyota Kluger (Grande hybrid AWD - $75,400), Mazda CX-9 (Azami 2.5 Turbo AWD - $73,751), or Hyundai Santa Fe (Highlander 2.2 diesel AWD - $65,200) although that last one will have a more direct ‘self-charging’ hybrid version launch next year.

    The GT-Line grade includes LED headlights. (Image: Tom White) The GT-Line grade includes LED headlights. (Image: Tom White)

    Still, there’s no avoiding how expensive this car is. Kia says it’s chosen to go with a top trim, as it expects an initially limited number of sales to customers who understand what they’re getting into with a PHEV – like all brands, it is facing supply shortages globally at the time of writing.

    Design - Is there anything interesting about its design?

    The Sorento is a standout piece of design, even in the current environment, against stiff competition like Mazda’s also pretty CX-9. Even a year on from its launch, the Sorento’s design takes you aback with its bold lines, glittering grille, LED light fittings, and muscular stance.

    I think this car’s design is so strong it manages to look good in every colour, especially with its contrasting black detail strips.

    Even a year on from its launch, the Sorento’s design takes you aback with its bold lines, glittering grille, LED light fittings, and muscular stance. (Image: Tom White) Even a year on from its launch, the Sorento’s design takes you aback with its bold lines, glittering grille, LED light fittings, and muscular stance. (Image: Tom White)

    The rear is squared off nicely with light fittings which look like they belong on a Mustang or something. A roof spoiler rounds it out nicely, and from a side-view leaves this big SUV with balanced proportions. The new badge for this year only adds to an already contemporary package.

    The Sorento’s interior thankfully matches its bold exterior, with signature design elements and a continuation of the chunky squared-off design.

    The motifs present give it a flow throughout, from the fish scale design running through the doors and into the dash, to the blocky air vents which match front and rear.

    A roof spoiler rounds it out nicely, and from a side-view leaves this big SUV with balanced proportions. (Image: Tom White) A roof spoiler rounds it out nicely, and from a side-view leaves this big SUV with balanced proportions. (Image: Tom White)

    The quilted Nappa leather seat trim lifts the cabin ambiance to something which feels semi-premium, and while the interior will be tough to keep clean with its liberal use of piano-black finishes, it feels well resolved.

    The pairing of the large multimedia screen and entirely digital dash seals the futuristic vibe, and this is built on by the GT-Line’s ambient lighting package and contrast silver toggles for climate functions. This top-spec car also trades out the mechanical shift-stalk for a classy dial-shifter.

    The motifs present give it a flow throughout, from the fish scale design running through the doors and into the dash. (Image: Tom White) The motifs present give it a flow throughout, from the fish scale design running through the doors and into the dash. (Image: Tom White)

    Practicality - How practical is the space inside?

    The Sorento’s interior does more than look good. It’s a breeze to use too, with many little practicality tricks and extra features which are often forgotten in rivals.

    In the front the seating position feels fantastic, a sort of alchemy has gone on here to let you sit low enough to give the Sorento a slightly sporty feel, whilst also making the dash cladding itself feel low and out of the way so that it’s easy to peer down on the road.

    There’s also healthy storage options for front passengers, with big bottle holders in the doors and in the centre, a huge console armrest box, and a large bay up front which houses the USB ports and a wireless charger.

    The second row is excellent for space, which should come as no surprise given the length of the Sorento. (Image: Tom White) The second row is excellent for space, which should come as no surprise given the length of the Sorento. (Image: Tom White)

    Both front seats are electrically adjustable, with the passenger seat scoring adjusting buttons on the side so the driver and second-row passengers can easily move it if need be.

    The second row is excellent for space, which should come as no surprise given the length of the Sorento, and there plenty of amenities on offer from two full-size bottle holders in the doors, heated outboard rear seats, dual adjustable air vents, a plethora of USB outlets for charging, a drop-down armrest with more bottle holders, and dual-layered pockets on the backs of the front seats.

    As for the third row, I’m pleased to report you can legitimately fit an adult my 182cm (6'0") tall size back there, if you move the second row forward to a position which still fits me in relative comfort.

    The impressive quilted leather trim continues back there, with my only gripe being the tight headroom on offer. I had plenty of room for my knees and feet, which is particularly impressive given there’s meant to be a huge battery under the floor somewhere.

    The rear row also offers decent amenities, with adjustable air vents with an independent fan controller, a large storage tray, and a full size bottle holder. There’s also a USB port on either side.

    As for the third row, I’m pleased to report you can legitimately fit an adult my 182cm (6'0") tall size back there. (Image: Tom White) As for the third row, I’m pleased to report you can legitimately fit an adult my 182cm (6'0") tall size back there. (Image: Tom White)

    Both the outboard seats in the second row, and both seats in the third row offer ISOFIX child-seat mounting points, and somewhat unbelievably there’s a full-size alloy spare mounted on the outside under the rear of the car.

    Boot space is down compared to the V6 and diesel variants, but by less than 30L in each configuration – virtually unnoticeable.

    This leaves 1988-litres (VDA) with the second and third rows folded, 604L with just the second row folded, or 175L with all seats up. I was impressed to find the smallest CarsGuide luggage case still managed to fit with all the seats up.

    • Boot space is down compared to the V6 and diesel variants, but by less than 30L in each configuration. (Image: Tom White) Boot space is down compared to the V6 and diesel variants, but by less than 30L in each configuration. (Image: Tom White)
    • The boot has 604L of space with just the second row folded, or 175L with all seats up. (Image: Tom White) The boot has 604L of space with just the second row folded, or 175L with all seats up. (Image: Tom White)
    • This leaves 1988-litres (VDA) with the second and third rows folded. (Image: Tom White) This leaves 1988-litres (VDA) with the second and third rows folded. (Image: Tom White)

    Powertrain - What are the key stats for the powertrain?

    Kia’s solution here is a little different, and will surprise prior hybrid buyers used to a Toyota 'self-charging' hybrid, for example.

    The Sorento pairs a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, producing 132kW/265Nm, with an electric motor mounted inside the transmission, producing 67kW/304Nm.

    Kia says the two have a combined output of 195kW/350Nm, which is very close to the output of the front-drive only V6 variant.

    The Sorento pairs a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor mounted inside the transmission. (Image: Tom White) The Sorento pairs a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor mounted inside the transmission. (Image: Tom White)

    On that topic, the PHEV variant is the only way you can select petrol and all-wheel drive in the Sorento range.

    Energy consumption - How much does it consume? What’s the range like, and what it’s like to recharge/refuel?

    The Sorento PHEV backs its electric motor with a relatively large 14kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which is located under the second row.

    It is charged via a European-standard Type 2 charging socket, which is the most common kind in Australia. Unfortunately, it charges at a rate of 3.3kW, which is only slightly faster than the maximum speed available from a wall socket.

    AC charging can go from wall-socket speed (2.7kW) to 22kW depending on a car’s inverter, but with the Sorento’s charging speed it seems best suited to charging overnight in a garage, rather than relying on convenience charging at a public location.

    It is charged via a European-standard Type 2 charging socket, which is the most common kind in Australia. (Image: Tom White) It is charged via a European-standard Type 2 charging socket, which is the most common kind in Australia. (Image: Tom White)

    With that mild inconvenience out of the way, the official combined consumption for the Sorento PHEV is claimed to be as low as 1.9L/100km. This, of course, will vary greatly depending on how you use it.

    Given it is possible to drive this car nearly 70km in electric mode, you may score even lower, as the engine doesn’t seem to need to turn on for any reason at most speeds.

    During my week of testing, I used some pure EV mode, but mostly used the very good hybrid mode as this helped me preserve my battery for the life of the review.

    My average score by the end was 5.0L/100km, which is still excellent for an SUV this large. The Sorento can run on entry-level 91RON fuel and has an unchanged 67L fuel tank from other variants. Theoretically this can allow for over 1000km of combined range.

    Safety - What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

    As the top-spec GT-Line, the plug-in hybrid Sorento comes with the full suite of active safety gear, which is amongst the best in the segment.

    It has auto emergency braking (works to freeway speeds) with pedestrian, cyclist, and junction detection, reverse auto braking, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot cameras in the digital dash, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, driver attention alert, intelligent speed limit assist, and safe exit warning.

    Elsewhere the Sorento scores a total of seven airbags, with the new-generation front centre airbag. It is worth noting that the airbags do not totally cover the third row, a consideration if you plan to regularly use those seats.

    The Sorento has a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating to the 2020 standard, and this includes the plug-in hybrid.

    Ownership - What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

    Kia is well known for its pioneering seven-year and unlimited kilometre warranty. It’s still amongst the best in the market, although some challenger brands seem to be closing the gap.

    Regardless, the PHEV is also covered by a seven-year capped price servicing regimen. While CarsGuide has only seen preliminary pricing for the servicing thus far, the PHEV version does carry a premium over the V6 and diesel variants.

    Kia is well known for its pioneering seven-year and unlimited kilometre warranty. (Image: Tom White) Kia is well known for its pioneering seven-year and unlimited kilometre warranty. (Image: Tom White)

    The PHEV variant needs to visit a Kia workshop once every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever occurs first.

    Driving - What's it like to drive?

    Across the market, PHEV models drive starkly differently. This seems to vary with each brand’s priorities. For example, some PHEVs are excellent in pure electric mode, with powerful electric motors.

    Some are great at letting you remove all of the electric features for a sportier combustion drive. But few I’ve driven manage to blend electrification and combustion as well as the Sorento.

    This is because the Sorento has an excellent true hybrid mode. It does an excellent job of blending the best characteristics of each component.

    It will rely heavily on the electric motor for the brunt of acceleration, while only using the petrol engine where it absolutely has to.

    Driving mainly in hybrid mode (with a day or two in electric mode) I was able to make the battery last the whole week. (Image: Tom White) Driving mainly in hybrid mode (with a day or two in electric mode) I was able to make the battery last the whole week. (Image: Tom White)

    Unlike many plug-in hybrids, it transitions between them seamlessly, to the point where it’s difficult to tell when the engine turns on if you’re not monitoring it through the dash.

    Many rivals suffer from a jarring transition between the electric motor and engine, or tend to rely heavily on one or the other, or lack a true hybrid mode altogether.

    The Sorento is the plug-in hybrid I have been waiting for. The hybrid mode gives it smooth, efficient driving, and on top of that helps to maintain battery life for much longer.

    Driving mainly in hybrid mode (with a day or two in electric mode) I was able to make the battery last the whole week, with my fuel consumption still remaining below what I’d expect from a 'self-charging' hybrid of this size.

    On the downside, the Sorento doesn’t have controllable regenerative braking modes. The only setting has you controlling the regen manually via the brake pedal. It will max out before it uses the brakes.

    This makes the Sorento feel more conventional to drive, but I think it’s a lost opportunity to make the most out of its electric efficiency.

    In terms of its other characteristics, the Sorento is excellent for an SUV this size. Its nicely balanced ride and steering make it a breeze in traffic and betray its sheer size from behind the wheel.

    Inside, the cabin is relatively quiet, and visibility is excellent from the big windows and smart driving position.

    • DrivetrainPlug-in hybrid
    • Battery Capacity14kWh
    • Battery typeLithium-ion
    • Electric range68km (WLTP)
    • Plug TypeType 2
    • AC charge rate3.3kW
    • Electric motor output67kW/304Nm
    • Combustion engine output132kW/265Nm
    • Combined output195kW/350Nm
    • Petrol efficiency1.9L/100km
    Complete Guide to Kia Sorento
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    There is so much to like about this plug-in hybrid version of the Sorento. Everything new here only adds to an already great seven-seat SUV. That unfortunately includes the tall price, and with some drawbacks when it comes to charging you will have to have a garage spot to charge it up to make the most of it.

    Those early adopters who fit that criteria, and are willing to take a chance on a car with such a hefty price, will be rewarded with a brilliantly packaged, lovely-to-drive and semi-premium seven-seat offering.

    $79,330

    Based on new car retail price

    Score

    4.2/5
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    Price Guide

    $79,330

    Based on new car retail price

    This price is subject to change closer to release data
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