What is it?
The Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) is an ultra-low emissions version of the brand’s flagship SUV.
It’s the second electrified model in the new Sorento line-up, alongside the low-emissions Sorento Hybrid (HEV). The PHEV combines a turbocharged petrol engine with a high-capacity battery pack and high output electric motor.
With a fully charged battery pack, the powertrain enables drivers to complete shorter drives of up to 43 miles on all-electric, zero-emissions power in a city setting (WLTP), while outside of the city a pure electric range of 35 miles is possible.
The latest Sorento, launched in the UK earlier this year, features sharper lines, high-tech details, and elongated proportions while inside the cabin introduces premium-quality materials, latest infotainment technologies, and a new design.
It comes with a larger body to maximise cargo and luggage space – and it has seven seats.
It is also Kia’s most high-tech car ever, loaded with connectivity, driver assistance and infotainment technologies. User-friendly twin digital displays deliver advanced graphics, new telematics features and smartphone connectivity.
Based on a new platform, the latest Sorento features shorter front and rear overhangs, with a 35mm longer wheelbase creating greater cabin space between the axles. It also allows the SUV to accommodate electrified powertrains for the first time.
The electric motor is mounted between the engine and transmission, enabled by the neat packaging of the downsized turbocharged engine beneath the bonnet. The layout allows the Sorento PHEV to operate in all-electric mode or draw on a blend of electric and combustion engine power – providing power to the front wheels or all four wheels, depending on road conditions.
The battery pack is located beneath the driver and front passenger seats, sandwiched between the cabin floor and the Sorento’s underfloor. With a standard all-wheel drive configuration, the PHEV’s ‘saddle-shaped’ battery pack lays over the top of the propshaft. This means the battery pack doesn’t take up valuable boot space.
The clever powertrain packaging means it can carry seven passengers plus one of the largest luggage capacities in its class – up to 809 litres for seven-seat models (with the third row of seats folded down).
The 50:50 split-fold third-row seats are easy to fold downwards independently by pulling the straps on the seat backs, creating a completely flat boot floor. The 60:40 split-fold second row of seats can also be folded down with the help of controls in the side wall of the boot, creating even more space for longer, larger loads.
The PHEV is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged direct injection petrol engine, which produces 178bhp and 265Nm of torque. Combined with the electric motor, producing 67kW and 304Nm of torque, the car delivers a combined 261bhp and 350Nm of torque.
With emissions of just 38g/km CO2 (WLTP, weighted combined), the new model is one of the most efficient vehicles in its class.
What do we think?
Step onside the Sorento and you find black cloth upholstery is combined with a light grey headlining to deliver a smart two-tone appearance in the cabin, and the front seats and leather steering wheel are both heated.
Door scuff plates deliver a premium feel and those seven seats are standard across the range. USB charge ports are handily provided for all three rows, ensuring that occupants continue to be entertained while on the move, and their devices don’t run out of juice. Dual-zone automatic air conditioning also includes outlets and controls in the third row.
Electrically folding, adjustable, and heated door mirrors feature integrated LED indicator lights, and there’s an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rain-sensing front wipers and automatic headlight control. New to the Sorento is a 12.3-inch high-resolution digital instrument cluster.
In-car entertainment features a DAB radio with a multi-device Bluetooth connection with voice recognition and music streaming, as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. A reversing camera system with dynamic guidelines is integrated into the 8.0-inch touchscreen and includes front and rear parking sensors.
Safety systems include Forward Collision Avoidance Assist (FCA) incorporates city, pedestrian, cyclist, and junction detection which detects oncoming cars on the other side of the road when turning across a lane at a junction.
If a collision appears likely, it applies the brakes to stop the car. The system relies on the front camera and radar and it is dependent upon the indicators being operated, as doing so allows the system to understand the driver’s intent to turn across the traffic.
You’ll also find Lane Follow Assist (LFA), Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA), Manual Speed Limit Assist (MSLA), Trailer Stability Assist (TSA) and Driver Attention Warning (DAW) all feature, along with Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Downhill Brake Control (DAC) and an electronic parking brake (EPB) with Auto Hold functionality.
An advanced anti-theft alarm system is provided with remote central door locking with fold-away key.
None of this comes particularly cheaply, though. Kia’s a re no longer the pile ‘em high sell ‘cheap brand that hit the UK in the 1980s.
There’s very much a premium feel to Kia these days and that’s reflected in the Sorento’s £50,000 price tag. The ride is comfortable enough and you sit enough to see what’s going on around you. Meanwhile you are almost encouraged to drive in a relaxed way to ensure you get the best out of the electric motor.
Over a test covering around 500 miles the Sorento PHEV returned an average of 43.7mpg.
Kia set a new benchmark in 2007 when it launched the cee’d with an industry-best seven-year/100,000-mile warranty. That demonstration of faith in the quality and reliability of Kia products was subsequently extended to every model.
The mechanical warranty is supported by a 12-year anti-perforation warranty and a five-year paint warranty. Servicing is required every 10,000 miles, or once a year, whichever comes soonest. The Sorento is available with Kia’s ‘Kia Care’ service plans, which have been developed to provide customers with a wide range of service plan options for any Kia model within the first seven years of the vehicle’s life – matching its industry-leading seven-year warranty.
Kia Sorento ‘3’ 1.6 PHEV T-GDi Auto AWD
Max torque (Nm/rpm): 350Nm
Max power: 261hp
0-60mph: 8.4 secs
Top speed: 119mph
MPG: 43.7 (on test)
CO2: 38 g/km
Battery pack and charging:
13.8kWh Li-ion polymer battery
Max Power (kW): 67Kw
AC charging time (3.3kW): 3hrs 25mins (0% → 100%)