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Kia Sorento 2022 Plug-in Hybrid Review: The Ultimate Plug-in Hybrid Option

Image Source: Daniliuc Victor / Shutterstock

Gas prices remain high, but if you’re not ready to make the switch to a fully electric vehicle just yet, there’s good news. The market now offers a variety of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models to cater to your needs. Plug-in hybrids combine electric and gasoline power, offering electric range with the flexibility of a gas engine once the battery is depleted. One compelling choice in the plug-in hybrid SUV category is the 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV.

Setting itself apart from the hybrid version, the Sorento PHEV boasts a larger battery that provides an impressive 32 miles of electric range. Its power comes from a combination of a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a 66.9-kW electric motor linked to a six-speed automatic transmission. This setup delivers a total output of 261 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, a notable improvement over the Sorento Hybrid’s 227 hp. The plug-in hybrid is equipped with standard all-wheel drive.

The Sorento PHEV achieves a combined fuel economy rating of 79 MPGe when operating predominantly in electric mode. However, this figure drops to 34 mpg combined once the battery charge is used up.

One standout feature of the Sorento is its third-row seating, a rarity in the non-luxury plug-in hybrid SUV segment where alternatives like the Toyota RAV4 Prime or Ford Escape PHEV lack this option. The closest competitor offering a third row is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

Inside, the Sorento impresses with its upscale materials, family-friendly design, and modern technology features. The driver faces a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, while a 10.3-inch touchscreen adorns the center of the dashboard. Optional upgrades include a 12-speaker Bose audio system and a rear-seat entertainment setup. Compared to the Toyota RAV4 Prime, the Sorento boasts a more premium interior with unique touches like door stitching and ambient lighting. Although the third row is available, adults may find the limited legroom uncomfortable. With both rear rows folded down, there’s 75 cubic feet of cargo space, whereas with all three rows upright, there’s just 12.6 cubic feet, which may restrict luggage for a full passenger load.

As for its driving experience, the Sorento PHEV delivers a comfortable ride fit for family outings. The powertrain operates quietly even under heavy acceleration, and the suspension ensures a smooth journey. While it’s not particularly sporty, the driving dynamics are competent and refined. Weighing 395 pounds more than the hybrid version, the PHEV sacrifices some of its power advantage over the Sorento Hybrid, resulting in slightly slower performance. For a more spirited driving experience, the RAV4 Prime with its 302 horsepower is a recommended alternative.

A notable detail is that the Sorento’s drivetrain tends to engage the gas engine even during light pedal inputs unless the EV button on the center console is activated. This feature ensures the vehicle operates on electric power only until the battery is drained, unlike most plug-in hybrids that use up their electric range before switching to gasoline.

The Sorento PHEV’s electric motor produces 90 horsepower, making it challenging for the 4,500-pound SUV to operate solely on electric power. As a result, minimal pressure on the accelerator may trigger the gas engine’s activation.

The 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV is available in two trim levels: SX and SX-Prestige, priced starting at $44,990 and $49,065 respectively. However, it’s important to note that due to the Inflation Reduction Act, the Sorento PHEV does not qualify for a federal tax credit as it’s not manufactured in the US.

With the addition of the PHEV model, the Sorento lineup offers a diverse range of choices, from traditional gas engines to the hybrid and the latest plug-in hybrid option.

Image Source: Daniliuc Victor / Shutterstock

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