We drove the Kia Sorento PHEV: space and luxury packed with a green ribbon…

The Kia Sorento has has been an important car for Kia. This spacious SUV has won many hearts, and with environmental regulations getting stricter, Kia has adapted its big, popular SUV to suit modern times. So it has launched in this fourth generation Sorento a plug-in hybrid version. But there is more. The latest generation is now very stylish and spacious, and is packed with a host of accessories and top notch driving aids and infotainment. Read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The latest Sorento has gained in style and presence, both inside and out. The accompanying photos tell the story. The dashboard and instrumentation also got a thorough makeover, and there is now one large screen for both the instrument cluster and the infotainment display. Impressive, and not unlike what one finds in the Mercedes range.

It offers all the information one could wish for, not in the least to monitor carefully the hybrid progress. But there is more. The rearview mirrors have built in cameras, and when one engages the left or right indicators, the right or left instrument dial transforms into a circular camera screen to show you what happens in the blind spots left and right. We liked that very much…

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems…

Besides this blind spot monitor, the new Sorento includes Kia’s latest Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) technology with pedestrian, cyclist and vehicle detection. This also detects oncoming traffic when making a turn at a junction. There is also a Surround View Monitor (SVM) and Blind-spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA), Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA), Smart Cruise Control with Stop&Go (SCC) and Navigation-based SCC (NSCC), Lane Following Assist (LFA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), and Highway Driving Assist (HDA). Need we say more?

The Sorento is spacious and offers not less than seven seats, with the last row occupants still getting some reasonable comfort in this mid-size SUV, even for grown-ups, provided they are not too big…

The Sorento Hybrid’s battery pack is located under the floor of the cabin. As a result, the SUV offers generous space for up to seven passengers as well as one of the largest luggage capacities in its class – up to 821 litres (for seven-seat models) or 910 litres (for five-seat models)

With all the seats down, some 2000 litres are at your disposal…

Plenty of USB outlets are present throughout the cabin, even down to the last row, where climate control is provided too. Indeed, he infotainment system also allows Bluetooth smartphone pairing for two phones concurrently, enabling separate phones to be used for, for instance, phone calls and music, while front passengers can also plug in their mobile devices via two USB chargers.

For second-row passengers, two USB charging sockets are integrated into the backs of the two front seats, with a third found at the rear of the front-row centre console. Both third-row passengers also have their own charging points, meaning all seven passengers can keep their mobile device charged – the perfect measure to maintain harmony in a full car during longer journeys.

The Sorento is lavishly equipped. The top ExecutiveLine version leaves nothing to be desired, but also the lower versions offer extra’s like panoramic roofs and heated seats for example.

Our Sorento came also with a head-up display. The system displays alerts from the car’s numerous driver assistance technologies, details of vehicle speed, and turn-by-turn navigation instructions.

We also enjoyed the 12-speaker BOSE® surround-sound audio system. A new ‘Sound of Nature’ ambient sound function enabled us to select from a range of relaxing natural soundscapes. The cabin’s Mood Lighting system lets users tailor the cabin even further, with the interior illuminated in one of seven pre-set ‘core’ colors.

Sophisticated technology

The PHEV version has a 1,6 litre four cylinder petrol engine, the so called 1,6 T-GDi. Torque is also impressive, and developed at a mere 1500 rpm. This new 1.6-litre T-GDi engine features Kia’s new Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology, regulating valve opening time according to driving conditions, instead of operating on a fixed opening time. The electric motor develops some 120 hp, but let it be said here that total system power is some good 265 hp or 195 kW with maximum torque being 350 Nm.

Power is sent through the six-speed automatic transmission via a transmission-mounted electrical device, allowing the full power of the engine and motor to be transferred in parallel with minimal loss of energy.

The Sorento has therefore more than adequate performance, with 0 to 100 km/h reached in 8,7 seconds and a top speed of 193 km/h.

But it is the utter smoothness of the drivetrain, the excellent pairing of the two motors which impresses, both sending their power via a six-speed automatic to the four wheels. The power is only sent to the rear wheels when necessary, with an up to a fifty/fifty power split between the front and the rear wheels according to road conditions.

Besides the circular selector knob for selecting the gears, (homage to the Jaguar XJ…) there is a second smaller circular knob for selecting the “drive” modes and the “terrain” modes. Very clear and intuitive, this Sorento can be tailored to your wishes almost instinctively, which is no small feat indeed…

The handling of this almost two-ton Sorento is precise, with suspension setup being even rather firm, and the new platform is clearly designed with our market(s) in mind. Indeed, the new Sorento is based on Kia’s new third-generation midsize SUV platform. The new platform is built up around a compact engine bay structure and shorter front and rear overhangs, with a 35 mm longer wheelbase creating greater cabin space between the axles. Not only does this enable the new model’s stylish design; the structure and layout of the new platform means the Sorento is able to accommodate electrified powertrains for the first time.

Sound insolation is of course also excellent, and indeed this Sorento has all the panache of a limousine. Needless to say that this Sorento has excellent Gran Turismo character…

On EV power, the action radius is close to 50 km on the 14 kW battery. Consumption depends of course largely on your driving style and first and foremost on the amount of E-power you use in your travels. On petrol engine power, it is easily possible to achieve an average consumption around 7 litres with a restrained and anticipative driving style.

The manufacturer quotes CO2 emissions as 44 g/km.


The Sorento is full of high-class character and panache. Roomy, stylish, lavishly equipped, it offers true Gran Turismo comfort and drivetrain smoothness. In the light of all this, it is attractively priced, considering also the very generous equipment. Its plug-in hybrid layout lets you enjoy fiscal advantages too. Last but not least there is the 7 year/150.000 km guarantee offered by Kia, so you will not only enjoy the luxury of this Kia everywhere you go, you will also do so with utter peace of mind…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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