KIA Sorento PHEV review


Seven seat family cars are always a compromise between design styling and practicality. In terms of priorities a car’s exterior good looks get put far down any list of demands from buyers who frequently have to transport the world, its friend and all their kit. When life takes over ‘boxy’ becomes good. Thankfully the current demand for SUV and crossover styling means boxy really is good!

The new Kia Sorento is a very handsome SUV that seats 5+2 and features a really well executed design inside and out. The Sorento’s body has the right amount of chunkiness with enough good detailing in its design to annoy even the snobbiest German premium brand buyer. Sorento’s wheelbase is 2,815mm and this is seen in the enlarged cabin. Inside there is lots of space and the cabin is very well executed with a premium feel – leather seats standard. On the top grade K4 model you get tons of gadgets.

One safety aid that stands out as quite cool are the side view cyclist-friendly cameras (K4) that activate with the turn indicators. They show, on the driver’s display, a wide angle view of what is right beside the car. The feature is great for parking and overtaking/lane changing too. Another fun thing is the atmospheric sounds you can play through the Bose sound system like ‘outdoor cafe’, ‘log fire’ and ‘snowy village’ etc.(that we first experienced in the new top grade Hyundai Tucson hybrid). The Sorento is a connected car with its ‘UVO Connect’ system and there are plenty of smartphone aids and USBs in all three rows to keep all occupants happy. In five-seat configuration the boot holds 604 litres and this expands to 1,988 with all seats folded.

At 2,099kgs the new Sorento plug in hybrid is a heavy machine but the KIA is a big family-sized car. The new car is 10mm longer than the outgoing model and also 10mm wider and taller too. Two types of power are available with Sorento in Ireland and both have automatic gearboxes – diesel and petrol PHEV. For the Ireland market diesel is used in front wheel drive versions while the PHEV version features AWD. The 200hp 2.2 diesel will be popular in rural areas where diesel is still king. The Sorento that attracts our eye more is the considerably greener plug in hybrid.

The PHEV is powered by a turbocharged 1.6 litre four cylinder petrol engine (GDi) and an electric motor. It is 150kgs heavier than the 2.2 litre diesel but the good news for both is they have a weighty premium feel. The PHEV plug in hybrid can run for up to 57 kilometres in zero emissions electric mode or as far as 70 kilometres in what KIA calls ‘city’ range from a full battery. Charging the PHEV’s 13.8kWh Li-ion battery fully takes 3 hours 35 minutes at a 3.3kW charger (the on-board charger’s capacity) via its Type 2 plug. At a three-pin domestic socket it will take 5 hours (2.2kW) to charge fully. The battery pack is positioned neatly beneath the driver and front passenger seats and is ‘saddle-shaped’ to lays over the top of the prop-shaft.

The Kia Sorento’s 1.6-litre T-GDi engine produces 180hp and 265nm of torque. Combined with an electric motor producing 90hp and 304nm of torque, the Sorento Plug-in Hybrid delivers a combined 265hp and 350nm of torque, making it the most powerful Sorento ever sold in Europe. The PHEV’s drive is sent to the front wheels or all four wheels, depending on road conditions, via a quick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission.

0-100km/h takes 8.7 seconds (9 sec. diesel). Top speed is 193km/h (205km/h diesel). Progress is confident and brisk rather than electrifying (no pun intended) and there is always sufficient grunt to safely overtake. Motorway cruising is a joy and with a good degree of autonomous driving ability – adaptive cruise control and automatic steering/lane keeping – the experience can feel stress free and assured. Both fuel types have a 67 litre fuel tank. CO2 emissions from the PHEV are just 38g/km (165g/km diesel). In terms of towing the PHEV can pull 1,500kgs (braked) and has a gross train weight capacity of 4,180kgs (horse owners take note).

The Sorento scored highly in Euro NCAP safety testing with a five start rating: 82% for adult occupant protection, 85% for child occupant protection, 63% for pedestrian protection, and 87% in the ‘Safety Assist’ category. Standard safety features include Bind Spot Detection, Front Collision Avoidance, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Follow Assist, Smart Cruise Control, Highway Drive Assist, Smart Cruise Control and Parking Sensors Front and Rear. The Sorento PHEV offers enhanced all-terrain capability thanks to a new ‘Terrain Mode’. You use a rotary mode select dial on the centre console to choose the type of traction needed. You can choose from ‘Mud’, ‘Snow’ and ‘Sand’ modes. The system automatically optimises the drive-train to best suit each scenario, adjusting engine torque output and distribution, as well as stability control characteristics. Terrain Mode also adjusts shift timings for the PHEV’s six-speed automatic to suit different surfaces.

The two equipment grades are K3 and K4. The diesel K3 starts at €52,440 rising to €57,430 for the K4 – both net of private buyer grants. The K3 PHEV is €50,000 and our K4 PHEV test car has a price tag of €55,000. The K4 adds a panoramic sunroof, power front seats, a great 12-speaker Bose sound system, front and rear heated seats, power opening/adjustable tailgate, Blind View Monitor, Around View Monitor and Parking Collision Avoidance.

The Korean built Kia Sorento PHEV is an impressive car that should exceed most families needs with ease.


About Author

Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan is a senior and highly respected motoring journalist based in Ireland. He is a frequently heard voice on motoring, transport and mobility matters and has multiple credits on national television, national print media, national and local radio and other outlets. Michael Sheridan has been a Car of the Year Judge for more 20 years (& more recently a Van of the Year judge). Michael has produced and directed many international and national motoring TV programmes and documentaries both on cars and motorcycles - including four films on the iconic Route 66. Michael Sheridan is a former Chairperson of the Association of Professional Motoring Press (APMP).

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