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Review of 2022 Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid: An Excellent Hybrid With Great PHEV Technology

Image Source: Daniliuc Victor / Shutterstock

Fuel prices remain high, but if you’re not quite prepared to transition to a fully electric vehicle, the positive news is that there is an increasing selection of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models available. Plug-in hybrids offer the best of both worlds by providing a limited electric range along with a gasoline engine to provide power once the battery is depleted. One appealing new choice for those seeking a plug-in hybrid SUV is the 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV.

The Sorento PHEV builds upon the hybrid variant by incorporating a larger battery that gives it a 32-mile electric range. The Sorento plug-in hybrid is driven by a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with a 66.9-kW electric motor, all connected to a six-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain delivers a total output of 261 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, a significant improvement over the Sorento Hybrid’s 227 hp. All-wheel drive comes standard on the plug-in hybrid model.

When primarily operating in electric mode, the PHEV achieves a combined rating of 79 MPGe, but this drops to 34 mpg combined once the battery charge is depleted.

The interior of the Sorento boasts a unique feature that sets it apart from its competitors, such as the Toyota RAV4 Prime or Ford Escape PHEV – a third row of seating. Within the non-luxury segment, there are limited options for those seeking a plug-in hybrid SUV with three rows of seats. The primary competitor to the Sorento PHEV is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, as it also offers three rows of seating.

Inside, the Sorento’s cabin exudes a premium feel with high-quality materials, a layout conducive to families, and contemporary tech amenities. The driver is presented with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, while a 10.3-inch touchscreen is centrally positioned on the dashboard. Optional features include a 12-speaker Bose audio system and rear-seat entertainment setup. Overall, the Sorento’s interior surpasses that of the Toyota RAV4 Prime with distinctive details such as door stitching and ambient lighting. Nevertheless, the third row of seats, while present, may not be the most suitable for adults due to limited legroom. With both rear rows folded, cargo capacity expands to 75 cubic feet; however, when all three rows are utilized, cargo space diminishes to a mere 12.6 cubic feet. With every seat occupied, there may be limited space for a weekend’s worth of luggage.

How does the Sorento PHEV perform on the road? It serves as a comfortable cruiser for the entire family. The powertrain operates quietly, even under full acceleration, and the suspension provides a smooth driving experience. While the driving dynamics may not be described as sporty, they are competent and refined. The PHEV model weighs 395 pounds more than the hybrid version, nullifying the additional power it offers over the Sorento hybrid. Consequently, it’s unsurprising that the Sorento PHEV is marginally slower compared to the hybrid model. Those seeking a more spirited driving experience should consider exploring the RAV4 Prime, which boasts a generous 302 horsepower.

An interesting feature worth noting is that the Sorento’s drivetrain may activate the gas engine even in scenarios where full throttle is not applied. Even with a fully charged battery, the Sorento tends to function more like a hybrid unless the EV button on the center console is engaged, prompting it to exclusively rely on the electric motor until the battery is exhausted. In contrast, other plug-in hybrids typically deplete their electric range prior to engaging the gas engine.

It’s important to recognize that the Sorento PHEV’s electric motor produces only 90 horsepower, which can pose challenges in propelling the 4,500-pound SUV independently. Consequently, even light pressure on the throttle may kickstart the gas engine.

The 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV is available in two trim levels: SX and SX-Prestige, with pricing commencing at $44,990 for the SX and $49,065 for the SX-Prestige. Unfortunately, due to the Inflation Reduction Act, the Sorento PHEV does not qualify for a federal tax credit, as it is not manufactured in the United States.

With the addition of the PHEV variant, the Sorento lineup caters to a broad spectrum of consumers, offering two gasoline engine options, the hybrid model, and the newly introduced plug-in hybrid version.

Image Source: Daniliuc Victor / Shutterstock

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