The Kia Sorento is now in its 4th generation and it welcomes new styling, new powertrain options, and a lot more technology. For the 2022 model year, the Kia Sorento PHEV joins the lineup and offers up to 51 km of all electric driving range in a 3-row SUV.
Engine – The Kia Sorento has a 1.6L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine under the hood. The engine alone produces 177 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque (132 kW & 264 Nm) while the electric motor provides an additional 90 hp and 224 lb-ft of torque (67 kW & 304 Nm). The total system output is 261 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque (194 kW & 350 Nm). In a 3-row SUV that tips the scales at around 2,040 kg (4,497 lbs), the feeling behind the steering wheel is reasonably quick thanks to the instant torque of the electric motor. It’s not a fast SUV with the 0-100 km/h time taking around 8.7 seconds but it doesn’t feel as though it’s struggling to get up to speed. Switch the Sorento PHEV to Sport mode and it behaves a bit more spritely with sharper throttle response and remapped transmission shifts. With the PHEV powertrain, the 2022 Kia Sorento is rated for 2,000 lbs of towing.
Fuel Economy – In an SUV of this type, it’s fuel economy that matters most. Officially it is rated for 3.0 Le/100km (78.4 MPGe) combined. However in reality, it’s a bit more complicated than that. I’ve only been able to average around 4 L/100km (58.8 MPGe) on a combined cycle. Still good but it could have been a lot better. Why? Read on…
Battery & Charging – The 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV is rated for 51 km (32 miles) of all-electric driving range. In the real world it is possible to achieve it and improve upon it depending on exterior factors such as ambient temperature, driving style, terrain and so on. But in the winter, it is nearly impossible to drive on electricity alone because the engine must turn on in order to provide heat to the cabin. You could drive in the winter with just the heated seats and heated steering wheel on without using the climate controls but if you need to defog or defrost the windshield, the engine will turn on the moment you turn on the climate controls. I have tried different combinations of directing the air flow to the feet or not using the Auto mode on the climate and it doesn’t work. In the 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV, the engine must turn on to provide heat into the cabin.
Unfortunately, this unnecessarily wastes fuel as most commutes are less than 51 km (32 miles). The engine will turn off once a sufficient amount of heating has been provided into the cabin but it will periodically turn on again to maintain the desired temperature. During my time with the Sorento PHEV, the ambient temperatures were hovering around the freezing point and even after a 40 km trip, the engine stayed on for the duration in order to provide heat. One positive, however, is that during these types of conditions, the engine behaves like a generator if you’re in the EV mode. As in, it will maintain 1,200 rpms as you drive along and the SUV will use the battery charge for propulsion with the engine recharging the battery along the way while providing heat to the cabin. So at least the engine is running efficiently. Also, there is no “charge hold” mode. You cannot tell the car to save the battery charge for later use.
The 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV has a 14 kWh battery which takes approximately 14 hours to recharge from a regular wall outlet and up to 4 hours from a level 2 charger (depending on charger capability).
Transmission – Unlike other PHEVs, the Sorento PHEV utilizes a 6-speed automatic transmission instead of a CVT. It’s not the fastest shifting or most responsive 6-speed automatic out there but it does provide a better driving experience over a CVT. As well, you can still operate the paddle shifters and change gears while in EV mode.
Braking – Again, unlike other PHEVs, the 2022 Sorento PHEV does not have different modes for regenerative braking. When lifting off the accelerator pedal, the SUV will provide some regen braking but it’s similar to lifting your foot off the throttle in a gasoline only vehicle. When applying the brake pedal, more energy is recovered but that also uses the physical brakes to some degree to slow the Sorento down. Happily, however, there is no discernable difference between the physical brakes and regenerative braking. Also, downshifting to a lower gear while going downhill in EV mode does not increase the regenerative braking. That is all controlled by your foot.
Handling – The Kia Sorento was never meant to be a sporty driving SUV. It is first and foremost a family SUV. As such, the driving dynamics reflect that. The steering is direct but it lacks any feel which is completely fine for this type of SUV. It is easy to maneuver the Sorento around a parking lot and the steering hardly requires any input on highways.
The 2022 Kia Sorento Plug-In Hybrid comes standard with AWD. It is a mechanical AWD system rather than an eAWD system like how you would find in the Toyota Sienna. In most driving situations, the engine’s and electric motor’s power is sent to just the front wheels with power being sent to the back under less ideal driving conditions. There are also three modes to choose from depending on the terrain; Sand, Mud, Snow.
Ride Comfort – The 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV is a comfortable vehicle. The suspension is supple and provides a smooth ride whether on city streets or boring, long highways. The front and rear seats have soft cushions with the fronts offering enough adjustability regardless of your height.
Interior Space – For the most part the PHEV version of the Sorento is the same size as the non-PHEV Sorento. Similar headroom and similar legroom with the exception being a few millimeters less legroom in the back seats of the PHEV. However it’s hardly noticeable. Tall adults can comfortably sit in both front and 2nd row seats. Unfortunately the 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV and Hybrid are only available as 6-passenger SUVs. Bench seating in the 2nd row is only available on the lower trims of the non-hybrid or PHEV models. The 3rd row, however, should be reserved for children because those seats are tight. But at least there’s more room in that 3rd row than in other, similarly sized 3-row SUVs. Plus, the Kia Sorento PHEV does not have a traditional 3-zone climate control. Instead, the 3rd row occupants have a simple A/C control for those back seats.
Cargo capacity remains the same as the non-hybrid variants of the 2022 Kia Sorento. 357 L (12.6 cu-ft) behind the 3rd row, 1,090 L (38.5 cu-ft) with the 3rd row folded, and 2,139 L (75.5 cu-ft) with the 3rd and 2nd rows folded. To prevent the batteries from taking up cargo or passenger space, the Sorento PHEV has a smaller fuel tank. 47 L vs 67 L for non-PHEV Sorento variants.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The cabin is fairly well insulated from exterior noises and powertrain noises. The switch between electric to gasoline power is seamless with the engine being very, very smooth. It’s also quiet but of course you will hear it if you mash on the throttle pedal.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – The 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV starts at $44,995 CAD ($45,190 USD, SX trim) for the EX trim. This top spec SX trim costs $54,995 CAD ($48,090 USD, SX Prestige). The Kia Sorento PHEV is eligible for Government rebates, check your local dealer for details.
Gadgets – For the $45,000 CAD price of the entry level PHEV Sorento, it comes quite well equipped with leatherette upholstery, heated seats, heated steering wheel, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto integration, power liftgate, LED headlights, wireless phone charging, and a comprehensive suite of advanced driver and safety aids including automatic emergency braking, lane keep, blind spot sensors, front & rear parking sensors, and rear cross traffic alert.
Upgrade to this top SX trim and it’ll include a panoramic sunroof, head-up display, the 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation, surround view cameras, genuine leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, heated 2nd row seats, a full digital driver display, ambient lighting, and a few more advanced safety and driver aids such as blind view monitor and reversing automatic braking.
Interior Design – Majority of the interior materials are either leather or soft plastic. This makes the cabin feel a bit more upscale however you will find some gloss black plastics that will attract dust & fingerprints. It’s primarily around the cupholder surrounds, climate controls, and window controls. A vast majority of the interior controls are physical buttons but quick access infotainment buttons are capacitive touch as are a few of the climate controls. The only major difference between this PHEV and the gasoline version of the Sorento is the gear selector. It is reminiscent of a Genesis gear selector. I guess every plug-in hybrid has to have a bit of a gimmick here and there. Overall though, the interior looks good and is a welcome update to the previous generation Sorento.
Exterior Design – This 4th generation Kia Sorento is much more rugged in its exterior design language. It has sharp lines throughout the front, side and rear. Apart from the little badge on the liftgate and the charge port on the passenger side, you cannot tell the difference between it and a gasoline powered Sorento.
Warranty – In Canada, the 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV has a 5 year / 100,000 km comprehensive & powertrain warranty. The hybrid components warranty is 8 years / 150,000 km. In the United States, the comprehensive portion of the warranty is 5 years / 60,000 miles and the powertrain is 10 years / 100,000 miles. For more information on Kia Canada warranty, click here. For Kia USA warranty information, click here.
Conclusion – Overall as a complete vehicle, the 2022 Kia Sorento is a great 3-row SUV. It doesn’t quite have as much cargo capacity as some of its competitors but it makes up for it with more passenger space and good value for your money.
However, the PHEV powertrain is not the greatest for the Winter months. In other PHEVs, the engine does not need to turn on to provide heating for the cabin. So in this Kia Sorento, it kind of defeats the purpose of having a PHEV. You might as well save some money and opt for the standard hybrid Sorento. But if you live in a more temperate climate, then the Sorento PHEV is worth considering.
Thank you to Kia Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Kia.ca