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2022 Kia Sorento Plug-in hybrid Review

Kia Sorento, the only way to go for families?

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It has 7 seats, offers up electric-only motoring and even has terrain modes. The 2022 Kia Sorento seems to deliver everything that a modern family may want, packaged in what is, in my opinion, a beautifully-designed shell.

Despite its lavish inclusions list, its drive-away price of $81,990 puts it in line with its competitors’ top-of-the-range offerings, like the Toyota Kluger Hybrid, while also presenting a more budget-friendly entry point to the world of plugin hybrid motoring than a Volvo XC90 Recharge PHEV.

You’re going to want to evaluate your daily commute, though, before pulling the trigger on the Sorento PHEV because it is priced $17,700 above the petrol GT-Line and $14,500 above the GT-Line Diesel Sorentos.

What’s it like inside?

This plush family cruiser gets all the creature comforts. Up front are comfortable, quilted nappa leather seats featuring 14-way electronic adjustment (10-way for the passenger seat), heating, ventilation and memory functions, which come in handy if there are multiple drivers. 

More leather can be found covering the heated steering wheel, and when you get hands on with it, you will find that you have the familiar Kia steering wheel controls. That means it is functional and well laid out, making it easy to control everything from music and voice controls to the adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping functionality. 

An 8-inch heads-up display (HUD) keeps your eyes on the road and presents all the information you need, including speed, upcoming navigational instructions, song transitions and more.

Behind that is what, at first glance, looks like a giant screen, spanning half the dash. If this were a European vehicle, it could very well be a single screen. However, it actually houses 2 screens: a driver's display and, to the left, a touchscreen for infotainment functions.

This large 10.25-inch widescreen is loaded with Kia’s standard operating software, which comes standard with satellite navigation and DAB+ radio as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. A wireless charging bay also lives below your controls.

There are 12 Bose speakers positioned throughout the cabin to give a surround-sound effect. As you can imagine, with that many speakers, there is some serious power for the audiophiles, and being a Bose, you know sound quality is sharp. 

Cabin space is further amplified by a gigantic sunroof, allowing light to fill the interior. Aluminium inserts on the dash and doors light up, giving a Mercedes-esque look to them.

Gears are selected via a rotary dial and you can also pick between 6 different drive modes: Eco, Sport, Smart, Snow, Mud and Sand for when you're off road. Basically, you’re covered for all the off-roading scenarios you’re likely to face in a Sorento.

You aren’t left wanting if you are a passenger in the back row either. Not only is head and knee room generous, but seating is also heated for those 4am holiday set-offs. When things get too hot though, both doors have retractable shades.

There are 4 cup holders fitted in the back, with 1 in either door and 2 in the centre armrest. It’s a nice touch, but perhaps, this is to make up for a lack of door storage in the rear.

Devices should never run low, with 3 USB ports in the rear, including 1 in the back of the driver’s seat and 1 in the back of the front passenger seat.

Second-row seats fold down 60:40 and reveal the third row of seats, which also gets USB charging and air conditioning controls.

What’s the boot like?

You have a total of 175 litres on offer with all 3 rows in use. For reference, this fits a seated 6-foot human with extra space.

Then, if you fold the third row down, you will have 604 litres of space available, which expands to 1,988 litres with both the third and second rows folded down.

How does this compare to competitors? 

The Toyota Kluger Hybrid has 241 litres with all seats in place, 552 litres with the third row down and 1,150 litres with both the third and second row folded.

If you aren’t looking specifically for a hybrid drivetrain, the Mazda CX-8 has 209 litres with all rows in place, 775 litres with the third row folded and 1,727 litres with the third and second row folded.

What’s it like to drive?

When I first sat in and peeled out in the Sorento, it was somewhat of a weird feeling. It looked like an SUV, but it felt a bit like you were driving a van. 

But these first impressions were short lived.

Once you get used to the driving position, you notice just how good the ride is. As you cruise around town and along highways, at high and low speeds, you can tell that the hybrid Sorento has a good local tune.

Then you notice just how suitable the power is for the vehicle. It isn’t underpowered and it isn’t overpowered – as Goldilocks would say, this one's just right.

It is powered by a 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine producing 132kW of power and 265Nm of torque. The engine is complemented by an additional 67kW from an electric motor.

So despite its heft and the meagre displacement of its petrol power plant, the 2022 Sorento gets up and going fairly quickly. 

When driving, our time was spent around town doing plenty of highway driving. Over the course of our driving, we utilised the electric motor and petrol engine, both individually and in tandem. 

Kia claims a combined fuel consumption of 1.6 litres per 100km. However, during our testing, we averaged out at 5.8 litres per 100km – still not a bad number for a vehicle that weighs over 2 tonnes.

If your daily commute is under 60km, there is a chance that you can motor without burning any dinosaur fossils, as Kia states the 14kW battery can take you 57kms before the engine takes over.

When switching between engine and motor, it is virtually unnoticeable.

There is no escaping that this is a large vehicle. At 4.8 metres long, it is only a smidgen shorter than an Isuzu MU-X. Despite this, steering is light and, as mentioned earlier, the ride is composed and comfortable. In terms of manoeuvrability, for such a large vehicle, its 11.6-meter turning circle is smaller than that of the Toyota Kluger Hybrid and tighter than the brand new Hyundai IONIQ 5. 

Included are a whole host of sensors and cameras, so you shouldn’t find yourself bumping into posts and vehicles when you’re parking.

Being a PHEV, you can charge the battery by simply plugging it into the wall at home and a full charge is achievable overnight.

How safe is the 2022 Kia Sorento?

When it was tested in 2020, the Sorento scored a 5-star ANCAP safety rating. Our tester, being the top of the range GT-Line, comes loaded with a comprehensive safety suite.

As standard, you have these systems protecting yourself, your passengers and vulnerable pedestrians:

  • Blind-spot assist
  • Rear cross-traffic assist
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Lane-follow assist
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Safe-exit warning
  • Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection

There are also 7 airbags around the cabin.

The Verdict

There is a lot to love about the PHEV Kia Sorento – the way it is styled, the way it's appointed (it really does feel surprisingly premium) and the way it drives. They’re all major pros and, overall, the Sorento is a good vehicle.

There are some things to consider, though. The price, for instance, is well above its environmentally-conscious siblings. With that said, if you have an average distance daily commute, you could benefit from pure-electric driving Monday to Friday and then pack up the car and head to Byron Bay with zero range anxiety.

If you don’t need 7 seats, the brand new, spacious Hyundai IONIQ 5 offers up all-electric driving for a similar price, while the Hyundai Kona does so for $15,990 less.

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