Kia Sorento PHEV review

Kia’s Sorento is the largest model on sale from the Korean manufacturer in the UK, and with the plug-in hybrid version, it remains one of the more efficient too. It comes as part of an electrification push that sees all new models launched with at least a hybrid powertrain, and many have a PHEV or pure-electric option.

Review by Chris Lilly


Powered by a combination of 1.6 litre T-GDi petrol engine and electric motor, the Sorento PHEV produces a combined 261 hp and 350 Nm of torque. Despite its large size, the Sorento PHEV packs a punch, and can cover the 0-62mph time in 8.4 seconds.

It’s not lightning quick then, but plenty fast enough for most, and the electric motor’s instant response helps shift things at low speed particularly well. Power goes via a six-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels, and the powertrain works nicely to keep both performance and refinement levels strong.


Kia has judged the ride and handling rather well in my opinion for the Sorento. It’s a large and comfortable car to drive, but doesn’t have the body roll you can find in some other relaxing SUVs. It’s by no means sporty, but retains control in the corners, while offering a supple ride on the motorway.

It’s also more than capable in urban areas, with speed bumps and potholes tackled easily. There isn’t much feedback through the steering wheel, but that’s to be expected for a car of this size and type. Steering is precise and sharp however, which means the Kia quickly gives you confidence in threading it through tight streets.


The Sorento is now a very striking car, keeping to Kia’s current design language, but the Korean brand should be applauded for not creating a “Russian doll” way of doing things like some rivals. The Sorento is very different when compared to the Sportage for example.

What the Sorento most certainly is is spacious. It’s a large SUV, capable of seating up to seven, and those in the middle seats have huge amounts of leg and head room. The rear-most seats are best thought of as occasional or child seats, but ate large enough to be used and better than some rival efforts at a seven seater. There is still a very good amount of boot space too, despite the plug-in hybrid powertrain.


Kia Sorento PHEV review interior

It might not be the most exciting interior to sit in, but the Sorento offers driver and occupants a nice cabin. It’s got plenty of kit stashed away, with a large touchscreen system that looks impressive and works nicely. It’s helped by having a few physical buttons around the cabin that makes quick access to functions fall easily and safely to hand.

Digital driver’s instruments offer a degree of flexibility in what is displayed, and there’s decent functionality on the steering wheel, which is itself a good size for cruising along on the motorway. Flashes of silver-coloured trim help lift what would otherwise be a rather dark cabin.


Reporting on plug-in hybrid economy scores is notoriously difficult. There were plenty of trips that I completed that had “infinite” fuel economy reported, as I did them on electric power only. So baring in mind that it’s easy to both come in under or exceed the official figure, Kia says the Sorento PHEV will do 176.6 MPG, and cover 35 miles in electric mode on a single charge.

In reality, the fuel economy score varied from much better to the official figure, to a reasonable average of 45 MPG when on a long run with no chance to recharge. Expect at least 75 MPG on occasional charging. The electric-only range is around 30-32 miles in real world conditions, which is good considering the size of the Kia.


Thanks to that 35 mile official electric range, the Sorento manages a CO2 emissions figure of 38 g/km, making it attractive for company car drivers in particular. Allowing that range is a 13.8 kWh battery, which can be charged at up to 3.3 kW for a recharging time of around three and a half hours.

There are driving modes to allow the driver to keep the car in Eco, plus there are options to pick the powertrain type. EV will hold the car in electric as long as there is charge, and there are hybrid settings to allow for flexibility.


Kia offers three trim levels for the Sorento - 2, 3, and 4. The top-of-the-range 4 trim was tested, but as standard on every model comes 19-inch alloys, LED headlights, leather steering wheel, air conditioning, heated front seats and wheel, cruise control, digital driver’s instruments, 8-inch infotainment system with navigation and smartphone integration, and parking sensors front & rear.

Added to the 4 equipment list are rear privacy glass, panoramic & opening sunroof, bi-function LED headlights, black Nappa leather upholstery, electric driver’s seat, rear window blinds, keyless entry and start, power tailgate, 10.25-inch touchscreen system, Kia Uvo connected car services, Bose stereo, head up display, 360-degree parking camera, blind-spot monitor camera, and remote park assist.


The Sorento PHEV isn’t going to be for everyone, but seven-seat plug-in cars are relatively thin on the ground, and if you’re someone who usually complete local trips but also regularly carries out long distance runs - particularly to more remote areas - the Kia could well work nicely. It’s good to drive, efficient, spacious, nice to look at, and stacked full of kit.


Model tested: Kia Sorento PHEV 4
Body-style: Large SUV
Engine / CO2: 1.6 litre petrol and electric motor / 38 g/km
Trim grades: 2, 3, and 4

On-road price: From £46,445
Warranty: Seven years / 100,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:22nd May 2022

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