Kia Sorento 1.6 T-GDi PHEV 2 5dr Auto

  • Automatic
  • Petrol Parallel PHEV
  • 5 door suv
  • 37 g/km CO2
  • 8.8 secs 0 to 62 mph
  • 248 bhp Engine power

Ten Second Review

Here's a very different kind of Kia Sorento. It can run most of its suburban life on electric power, manage a three-figure fuel return and deliver a CO2 reading that'll decimate the size of your company car taxation bill. Yet it'll seat seven people, take you to a mountainside weekend country cottage and cruise in luxury. There's a price to pay for all this capability of course. But it's undeniably impressive.

Background

We're told that electric cars are the future. But family customers have to live in the here and now. And in in the here and now, it's quite simply very difficult to justify an EV that gives you range anxiety over anything but short-to-medium distances. It's also extremely difficult to find an EV with seven seats. A far more sensible solution that'll still probably see you driving largely on full electrification is this car, the Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid, here usefully revised. There are a number of mid-sized-to-large family-shaped Plug-in hybrid SUVs on the market, so why this one? Well, a number of the PHEVs in this segment can't be had with seven seats, a failing this Kia avoids. And most of them are more expensive too, including this car's mechanically-identical cousin, the Hyundai Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrid. Not that this Kia is exactly cheap; you could easily find yourself paying nearly £50,000 (or more) for a well specified one. You probably never imagined yourself paying that much for a Kia Sorento. But could you justify such a spend on this one? Let's find out.

Driving Experience

On the move, this PHEV plug-in model's 90hp electric motor does a reasonable job of powering the car in battery motion mode and when the 13.8kWh battery pack runs out (after about 35 miles) and the 1.6-litre T-GDi turbo engine cuts in, the combined power output - 261bhp - is more than enough for most safe overtakes, or pressing on when you're late for the school pick-up. 62mph occupies 8.4s en route to 119mph; you certainly wouldn't want to go any faster than that in a car like this. You might wish for a bit more pulling power through the six speeds of the drivetrain's auto gearbox though; there's only 350Nm of it, which isn't a great deal to propel along a 2.1-tonne 7-seat family SUV. That's why towing capacity is limited to 1,500kgs. This car still retains a reasonably degree of 'off piste' capability though. Its standard 4WD system incorporates three bespoke 'Terrain' drive modes which you select from this centre console dial - 'Snow', 'Mud' and 'Sand'. But there's not really enough ride height to venture anywhere too gnarly with this Kia, so the 'Terrain' side of the drive mode dial will probably remain largely unused. More everyday useful settings come when a push of the same dial clicks you in to three separate tarmac 'Drive' modes that alter steering feel, throttle response and gear change timings. Most of the time, you'll leave the car in the 'Smart' setting, basically an auto mode that sorts everything out for you. There's also an 'Eco' mode. And a 'Sport' setting for when you want to push on, though you won't want to do that terribly often in this kind of high-sided SUV.

Design and Build

There are no outward giveaways as to this model's plug-in status, unless you happen to notice the badging or the extra filler flap. As for changes to this revised model, well for a mid-term update, there's quite a different look for this fourth generation Sorento - from the front anyway, which draws its inspiration from the look of Kia's EV9 large electric SUV. This includes new vertical headlights and 'star map' daytime running lights, with redesigned alloy wheels and a new bonnet design further emphasising the Sorento's bold, rugged appearance. The car features a redesigned gloss black radiator grille, as well as black side sill and wheel arch mouldings, giving it a more distinctive stance on the road. Highlights and chrome details dotted around the exterior bring more of a shine to this model, and contrast the black for a more premium and refined appearance. It's still a pretty substantial thing, 4,810mm long, but the short front and rear overhangs decrease the visual perception of bulk. Inside, the Sorento has been more closely aligned with Kia's newer SUV models, fully embracing Kia's 'Opposites United' design philosophy. The key change lies with the addition of larger dual curved 12.3-inch displays for the infotainment and instruments, plus there's now even more kit, including a customisable head-up display. This improved Sorento also benefits from artificial leather and recycled PET cloth throughout the cabin and upholstery, a further implication of Kia's sustainability mission. Otherwise, things are much as before. There's plenty of leg and knee room in the second row, but where you really feel the benefit of this MK4 model substantial wheelbase length is in the standard third seating row, often very cramped in cars like this; some PHEV rivals in the large SUV segment don't have a third row at all. It's still an area of the car primarily meant for kids but adults can be reasonably comfortably accommodated on shorter trips. The boot, meanwhile, offers 179-litres of space with all the seating rows in place, 604-litres with the 3rd row folded and 1,988-litres with the second row flat.

Market and Model

At the time of the launch of this facelift model in Spring 2024, pricing for the 261bhp Sorento Plug-in Hybrid started from just over £47,000 - that's for the base '2'-spec model. Mid-range '3'-spec cost just under £51,500, with top '4'-trim at around £56,000. These prices represent a premium of nearly £4,500 over a self-charging 226bhp HEV hybrid version of this model. Which is a lot - but not as much as some rivals are charging. PHEV versions of some other rivals look cheaper but are usually smaller, less powerful and often lack seven seats. If, having considered all of that, you conclude that it is a Sorento that takes your interest, then you're going to need to know just how generous Kia has been with the standard spec. Well, let's see. Across the range, the cabin incorporates Kia's latest dual 12.3-inch displays for the instrument screen and infotainment system. Plus there's a customisable head-up display and part-synthetic leather upholstery. Others features common to all models include LED headlamps, dual automatic and rear air conditioning, heat for the front seats and steering wheel, smart cruise control, power-folding mirrors and rain-sensing wipers. The Sorento continues to offer Kia's telematics system, connecting drivers by providing invaluable information via the in-car touchscreen and on their smartphone. Featuring Kia Live services and accessible through the centre 12.3-inch LCD widescreen, the system displays live traffic information, weather forecasts, points of interest, and details of potential on and off-street parking. The 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. There's also now wireless 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto'. Mid-range '3'-spec gets you 19-inch wheels, black leather upholstery, ambient lighting, rear self-levelling suspension and a 12-speaker Bose audio system. top '4'-spec embellishes that with nappa leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, power-operated front seats, alloy pedals and a digital key. This Sorento line-up also continues its predecessor's legacy as one of the safest cars in its segment, with a range of passive and active safety and security systems as standard. All Sorento models receive front centre airbags, side and curtain front airbags, all-round three-point seatbelts, impact-sensing auto door unlocking, a 2nd row grab handle, ISOFIX child seat top tethers and anchor fixings in the 2nd and 3rd row, plus a child lock, an immobiliser, locking wheel nuts, a visible VIN and a Thatcham Category 1 alarm system.

Cost of Ownership

If you're comparing the PHEV Sorento with its HEV self-charging Hybrid showroom stablemate, you'll find that this Plug-in variant's provision of a larger 90bhp electric motor powered by a considerably larger 13.8kWh battery makes all the difference. It facilitates the usual PHEV three-figure combined economy reading - in this case 176.6mpg. And an enviro-conscious C02 figure of just 38g/km. Which in turn makes possible a super-low Benefit-in-Kind taxation rating of just 11%; with the HEV, it'd be either 35 or 37%, depending on trim. Pretty much the same as a Sorento CRDi diesel. For a Sorento Plug-in Hybrid owner (unlike with the HEV version or the diesel), there'll also be no VED road tax to pay in year one. Depreciation levels are class-competitive too: after three years and 60,000 miles, industry experts reckon a Sorento Plug-in Hybrid with base '2' trim will still be worth over £18,000. A big draw with any new Kia is the comprehensive warranty package that comes with it. And, sure enough, here you get a transferable, 7 year/100,000 mile warranty package shows the faith and confidence the company has in its products. There is also a 12-year anti-perforation and 5 year paint warranty to even further cement the longevity of the car. Servicing is every 10,000 miles. And insurance is rated at group 32 for '2' trim, group 33 for '3' trim and group 34 for a top '4'-spec car. Let's finish with charging time figures; from a 3-pin 2.2kW supply, charging a Sorento PHEV from empty to 100% would take 5 hours and 2 minutes. Use a 3.3kW AC supply and that time drops to 3 hours and 25 minutes.

Summary

This fourth generation Sorento tells us a lot about the way Kia is developing as a brand. It undercuts its Hyundai Santa Fe design stablemate on price and its extra polish and cleverness now make choosing this car a more credible option for buyers who simply don't need the dynamic advantages on offer from the much pricier Land Rover and German-branded models you might be tempted by in this segment. Plus, as ever with this car, while those familiar with the Amalfi coast might still feel the Sorento to be lacking an R, a glance at the spec sheet doesn't immediately suggest it to be lacking much else. In short then, for all kinds of reasons, this is now a contender you'd like - rather than merely one that would be very handy to have. The kind of SUV that might surprise you. As increasingly, modern Kias tend to do.

  • eCall emergency system
  • Tailgate
  • 2 x USB-C charge port on 3rd row
  • 2 x USB-C charge port on front seats
  • 6 speaker audio system
  • Radio
  • Steering wheel mounted audio controls
  • USB port for connection of a media device
  • Black side sill and wheel arch body mouldings
  • Body coloured bumpers
  • Front and rear silver skid plates
  • Gloss black radiator grille
  • Rear side wing doors
  • Rear spoiler
  • Roof rails
  • Satin chrome exterior door handles
  • Satin chrome window surround
  • 1 x Luggage compartment 12V socket
  • 1 x Rear 12V socket
  • 2 x front USB-C charge port
  • 2nd row centre armrest with cupholder
  • 2nd row passenger grab handle
  • 3 spoke artificial leather steering wheel
  • Centre console cupholder
  • Centre console storage box and armrest
  • Cloth / Artificial leather upholstery
  • Front and rear door storage
  • Front seatback storage pockets
  • Gearshift paddles
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Insert film finish crash pad
  • Interior door lock/unlock function
  • Leather door inserts
  • Luggage area load cover
  • Luggage net with hooks
  • Luggage under floor storage
  • Rear passenger walk-in switch
  • Rubber pedals
  • Tilt/telescopic adjustable steering wheel
  • 3 point seatbelts on all seats
  • Child locks
  • Dual horn
  • Front centre airbags (including sides)
  • Front passenger airbag cut-off switch
  • Front seatbelt pretensioners
  • Front, side and curtain airbags
  • Height adjustable front seatbelts
  • Impact sensing auto door unlocking
  • Seatbelt reminder warning
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system
  • Customisable automatic door locking
  • Customisable automatic door unlocking
  • Deadlocks
  • Engine Start/Stop Button with Smart Entry System
  • Immobiliser
  • Locking wheel nuts
  • Rear occupant alert
  • Smart key with motion sensor
  • Thatcham category 1 alarm
  • Visible vehicle identification number
  • Battery Capacity in kWh: 13.8
  • Battery Charging Scenario 1 - Charge Time (Mins): 302
  • Battery Charging Scenario 1 - Percentage Change: 10-100
  • Battery Charging Scenario 1 - Power Supply - kW: 2.3
  • Battery Charging Scenario 2 - Charge Time (Mins): 205
  • Battery Charging Scenario 2 - Percentage Change: 10-100
  • Battery Charging Scenario 2 - Power Supply - kW: 7.2
  • Battery Leased: False
  • Battery Type: Lithium-ion
  • Charging Port Location: Right Side Rear
  • Coupler/Connector Type: Type 2
  • Maximum Charging Rate - kW: 7.2
  • WLTP - EC (kWh/100km) - Comb: 18.2
  • WLTP - EC (miles/kWh) - Comb: 3.4
  • WLTP - Equivalent AER (km) - Comb: 55
  • WLTP - Equivalent AER (miles) - Comb: 34
  • CO: 0.129
  • HC: 0.015
  • Noise Level dB(A): 67
  • NOx: 0.006
  • Particles: 0.0002
  • Standard Euro Emissions: EURO 6
  • WLTP - CO2 Weighted (g/km) - Comb: 37
  • Camshaft: DOHC
  • Catalytic Convertor: True
  • CC: 1598
  • Engine Layout: FRONT TRANSVERSE
  • Fuel Delivery: TURBO INJECTION
  • Gears: 6 SPEED
  • Transmission: AUTO
  • EC Directive 1999/100/EC Applies: False
  • WLTP - FC Weighted (l/100km) - Comb: 1.6
  • WLTP - FC Weighted (mpg) - Comb: 176.6
  • Alternative Fuel Qualifying: True
  • Badge Engine CC: 1.6
  • Badge Power: 248
  • Based On ID: N
  • Coin Description: T-GDi PHEV
  • Coin Series: 2
  • Generation Mark: 4
  • Insurance Group 1 - 50 Effective January 07: 30A
  • Man Corrosion Perforation Guarantee - Years: 6
  • Manufacturers Paintwork Guarantee - Years: 6
  • Safety Concerns: False
  • Special Edition: False
  • Special Order: False
  • Standard manufacturers warranty - Mileage: 100000
  • Standard manufacturers warranty - Years: 7
  • Vehicle Homologation Class: M1
  • 0 to 62 mph (secs): 8.8
  • Engine Power - BHP: 248
  • Engine Power - KW: 185
  • Engine Power - PS: False
  • Engine Power - RPM: 5500
  • Engine Torque - LBS.FT: 271
  • Engine Torque - MKG: 37.4
  • Engine Torque - NM: 367
  • Engine Torque - RPM: 3500
  • Top Speed: 113
  • Emissions Test Cycle: WLTP
  • RDE Certification Level: RDE 2
  • Alloys: True
  • Space Saver: True
  • Tyre Size Front: 235/55 R19
  • Tyre Size Rear: 235/55 R19
  • Tyre Size Spare: SPACE SAVER
  • Wheel Style: N
  • Wheel Type: 19" ALLOY
  • Height: 1695
  • Length: 4815
  • Wheelbase: 2815
  • Width: 1900
  • Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres): 47
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: 2705
  • Luggage Capacity (Seats Down): 1988
  • Luggage Capacity (Seats Up): 175
  • Max. Loading Weight: 600
  • Max. Towing Weight - Braked: 1010
  • Minimum Kerbweight: 2105
  • No. of Seats: 7