The Kia Sorento PHEV is a 7-seater, four-wheel drive, plug-in hybrid SUV that can drive up to 35 miles on electric power, with an official fuel economy figure of 176.6 mpg.
The Kia Sorento SUV is now available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the first time. Kia has worked its magic on many other plug-in cars, so what about the Sorento?
The Kia Sorento is a 7-seat SUV with a 4-cylinder, 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and a 67kW electric motor powered by a 13.8kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, all of which produces 261bhp, with a six-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive.
The Kia Sorento offers lots of space, and it needs large 19-inch alloy wheels to look in proportion.
The middle row of seats can slide and recline, and the passengers in the third row get their own heating and ventilations controls and two USB sockets. Self-levelling rear suspension is standard on ‘3’ and ‘4’ grade models.
The Kia Sorento is comfortable to drive, and it feels refined on the motorway. However it’s a big car, so, perhaps not surprisingly, it feels like a big, heavy car to drive (it weighs 2,099kg). This is fine most of the time, but thanks to the weight, high SUV centre of gravity and relatively softly sprung suspension, there are body control issues around corners.
You can drive the Sorento on electric power (EV mode) or primarily on petrol power with the battery being used at standstill or when coasting (HEV mode). There are no Save or Charge modes. The gear selector is a rotary dial with a Park button in the middle. There are drive modes of Eco, Sport and ‘Smart’ – but no Normal.
Like most plug-in hybrids the Sorento is better to drive in electric mode rather than petrol because there’s instantly available torque and it’s quiet and more refined; the near-silence of the electric powertrain sounds better than the petrol engine, which can be quite vocal.
However there’s not much response in electric mode, and if you ask too much of the car, it will go into petrol mode with little provocation. It also frequently hunts around for gears, and setting off from standstill can be slow and jerky.
The all-wheel drive Sorento has a Terrain Mode switch which gives a choice between three modes – mud, snow and sand. A very gentle off-road test resulted in no dramas, however the tyres don’t have a mud & snow or all-season tread so ultimate off-road ability is likely to be limited.
Kia interiors are generally clearly laid out, and the Sorento mostly conforms to this rule; it has a large central touchscreen with shortcut buttons around it, and there are also separate buttons for the climate controls, all of which is helpful.
However the satnav mapping graphics feature a green background with grey roads, both of which are tonally very similar, which doesn’t result in the mapping being very clear.
And the Sorento doesn’t give a permanent display of how many miles are left on the car’s battery range, something which seems to be a big omission.
Good news is that there’s a button on the steering wheel to easily banish the lane departure warning system.
The Kia Sorento PHEV AWD has an all-electric range of up to 35 miles (up to 43 miles in city driving), and official combined fuel economy figure of 176.6mpg, with CO2 emissions of 38 g/km. Over a week of mixed driving we averaged 47.1mpg in the real-world which isn’t bad for a two-tonne all-wheel drive 7-seater SUV. At 70mph on the motorway using the petrol engine the Sorento averaged 42.6mpg.
To fully charge the Sorento PHEV from 0%-100% using a 3.3kW charger takes 3 hours 25 minutes.
The Kia Sorento PHEV AWD costs £49,555. There are three specification levels – ‘2’, ‘3’ (as tested) and a flagship ‘4’ model. The Kia Sorento has a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty.
The Kia Sorento PHEV is a rare breed because it offers 7 seats, all-wheel drive, and an electric driving capability of up to 35 miles. It’s good to drive overall, if you take its size, height and weight into account. It’s also generally easy to live with. As with all PHEVs, the more you drive it on electric power, the more chance you’ll have of creeping towards the official economy figure of 176.6 mpg. The Kia Sorento PHEV gains a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10.