2022 KIA Sorento PHEV is one of the few 3-row Plug-in Hybrid options if you are not ready for full EV.
Prior to electric vehicle invasion, the market is ready for more Plug-in Hybrid entries which can also be the ultimate solution for your range anxiety. 2022 KIA Sorento PHEV is a great proof that 3-row SUVs can also be great on gas, with the help of a battery and electric motor.
I always thought that Koreans were late to the party, which they had to catch up the competition in a market where Japanese brands dominate for years. It seems like they are catching up fast, as they come up with Plug-in Hybrid options much faster.
2022 KIA Sorento PHEV may not be fully electric, but if you drive within 20 kilometer radius, you may not have to fill the gas tank forever. For longer trips, gas engine will always be there which means you don’t have to look out for charging ports, gives you best of both worlds.
Exterior and Interior
2022 KIA Sorento is designed as a 3-row SUV unlike the corporate cousin, Hyundai Santa Fe. We had a chance to review the turbo engine version last year, so it was a great opportunity to see the main differences between the gas and PHEV version.
From the exterior, the differences are quite minimal. For an untrained eye, it is really hard to see that it is an electric vehicle, as it only comes with different rims, small plastic trim differences, and Plug-in badge in the back.
Both gas and PHEV version Sorento’s look great from the outside, and most importantly latest KIA designs are quite distinctive that represents latest KIA design language. KIA decided not to more distinctive design for the electric version, at least in the front end.
From the side profile, the biggest indicator is that PHEV version comes with special 19″ machined-finish alloy wheels. Other than that, there is no difference between the gas and PHEV version. Regardless, it is a pretty good looking SUV from every angle.
Like the rest of the car, 2022 KIA Sorento PHEV’s rear design is very understated, there is almost no indicator except a small badge. 2 piece taillights look quite unique. You see a lot of sharp lines around the trunk and some fake exhaust tips, which is a bummer.
Without looking at the digital gauge cluster and shifter area, it is very understand the fact that it is an electric car. While the differences are minimal, it comes with a rotary knob instead of an actual shifter that comes with gas version.
Rest of the interior, center stack and the dashboard is quite unique with the combination of physical and touch sensitive buttons. I just don’t like the fact that you have to rely on touch sensitive buttons for features that you use a lot, like the HVAC.
The second row seats are quite nice place to spend time as you get Captain’s chairs standard. This may not be optimal for bigger families, as it only comes with 2-2-2 seat layout, meaning that it can only take up to 6 passengers. Second row seats can be moved forward or backward for extra legroom space.
Sorento is one of the few mid-size SUVs that comes with the 3rd row seats. As a result, you don’t get tons of rear legroom space for bigger adults. Also the bottom cushion is quite close to the ground. Unlike Minivans, 3rd row seats are more for emergency situations as getting in and out is not easy.
Behind the third row, you get 12.6 cubic feet (356L) of cargo space, which is not impressive but expected from a mid-size SUV. If you fold down the third row, the total cargo space goes up to 45 cubic feet (1274L) and it can go all the way up to 75.5 cubic feet (2139L) if you fold down all rear seats.
Engine and Drivetrain
When it comes to the drivetrain choice, KIA has a pretty unique choice of combining an electric engine with a turbocharged internal combustion engine. This is something we rarely see in PHEV or regular Hybrid vehicles as most of them have naturally aspirated engines.
With the combination of 1.6L turbo engine and electric motor, total output is 261 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The engine is matched with 6-speed traditional automatic transmission which is also an interesting choice as many manufacturers go with planetary gear (eCVT) instead.
Compared to traditional Hybrid engine platforms, one of the biggest advantages of having a Plug-in Hybrid is that you get a lot large battery which you can go over 50 kilometers in one charge. 13.8kW battery can be charged around 12 hours with basic level 1 charging, which is not too bad.
Sorento PHEV’s AWD system is just like any other traditional AWD system, the rear tires are physically connected to the transfer case, meaning that even if you ran out of battery, the internal combustion engine can still send power to the rear wheels.
Driving Impressions and Features
I was a little bit skeptical about the KIA’s drivetrain choice, as we always know PHEVs are usually quite smooth, but having a regular 6 speed automatic transmission with turbo engine may not help. However, it is surprisingly good and it just feels as smooth as other Japanese entries.
With the 13.8kW battery, it allows you to drive over 50 kilometers. The range may not be enough for long drives, but if you are running errands, it should be more than enough to just use the electric motor. The gas engine kicks in if you want extra acceleration, but you can just disable it by switching to electric only mode.
In case, if you run out of the battery, the car would not allow to fully use the battery, as it switches to regular hybrid mode when the battery hits 25% of the total capacity. After that, it’ll just be like a HEV (Hybrid) vehicle.
If you are looking for PHEV 3-row SUV, fuel economy must be your priority as well as practicality. Although fuel economy numbers may vary a lot, based on how often you charge the battery. Our average was 3.2L / 100 km (73 MPG) with the winter tires, which we tried to charge at every opportunity.
Aside from the drivetrain, it just feels like a regular Sorento, which is a great daily driver and family hauler. I just wish KIA offered 7 seater option with a bench seat in the second row, as it only takes 1 more passenger than any other 2-row SUV.
Like many other KIA and Hyundai models, you get a lot of features for the price. I’ve been a fan of KIA’s adaptive cruise control with Highway Driving Assist, as well as Blind View Monitor which shows your blind spot through the digital gauge cluster.
Speaking of the gauge cluster, it is not as customizable as some premium German entries, but the resolution is great, as well as there is absolutely no input lag. There is also generously sized 10.25 inch infotainment system that comes with the latest KIA software, which works quite well.
Pricing and the Verdict
In a market where we don’t have many 3-row PHEV entries, 2022 KIA Sorento fills a gap that is not prioritized by the competition. The biggest competition is Sorento’s corporate cousin, the Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages.
As of 2022, I think PHEVs are still way to go, as they offer gas savings of an EV without dealing with range anxiety, as long as you are okay with limited electric-only range due to smaller battery size. For short trips, or running errands, you can go full electric while still can use gas engine for longer trips.
2022 KIA Sorento PHEV is a great option for people that wants to have great fuel economy numbers with decent practicality and AWD, as long as you don’t plan having 7th passenger on board. It starts at $36,695 CAD and with the top SX trim, you are looking around $55,134 without tax and Government rebates.
For more details – please visit www.kia.ca