Sorento seats seven and is the largest of Kia’s SUVs. Now in its fourth generation, it
comes in four grades and with a choice of three powertrains.

There’s a 3.5-litre petrol V6, 2.2-litre turbo diesel and now a 1.6-litre turbo plug-in petrol-
electric hybrid, with ultra-low emissions.

It’s the only large, mainstream SUV on the market to offer the option of all three
drivetrains, but it comes at a premium — and is it worth it?

Sorento is big, comfy, well-equipped, easy to drive and light years from Kias of old.
Kia’s designers sought to maintain the robust, tough-looking aesthetic of earlier
generations, while making it more refined and elegant — sporty even.

The PHEV rides on 19-inch alloys, rather than the 20s of the top petrol and diesel models
(it’s got flashy rubber though).

Prices start from $49,290 driveaway for the base, petrol-powered front-wheel drive S.

The diesel is $3000 more, but also comes with all-wheel drive.
There are four grades — S, Sport, Sport+ and GT-Line.

But PHEV is available only in GT-Line trim and will set you back $81,990 driveaway.
That’s right, $81,990 driveaway — $14,700 more than the top-of-the-line diesel.

Any colour apart from Clear White attracts a $695 premium.

The attractive, upmarket cabin introduces sophisticated next-gen design and in GT-Line
this is based around twin digital displays.

The focal point of the dashboard is the eye-catching ventilation stack that looks like
something out of Star Wars.

GT-Line also comes with a colour head-up display that projects information on to the lower
area of the windscreen. The system displays alerts from the numerous driver assistance
technologies, details of vehicle speed and turn-by-turn navigation instructions.

Rounding out the list is Mood Lighting, with seven ‘core’ colours, ambient background
soundtracks and a driver to passenger intercom system.

Highlights include Nappa quilted leather, three-zone climate air, heated steering wheel,
heated, cooled and power-adjust driver and front seats, with heated, slide and recline rear

There’s also digital speedo, key fob parking, auto cruise control, auto high beam, 10.25-
inch touchscreen, 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, 8.0-inch colour head-up display,
keyless entry and start, LED headlights, panoramic sunroof, 360-degree camera and
power-operated tailgate.

The list goes on and on.

A large 10.25-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster includes monitors
for various functions of the electric drive system.

The screen can be split in two for easy access to applications, vehicle information and
multimedia content.

Powerful 12-speaker BOSE surround-sound audio is standard in GT-Line, with eight
speakers, two tweeters, a centre speaker and subwoofer powered by external amplifier.

There’s also satellite navigation, DAB+ digital radio, AM/FM radio, Bluetooth and wired
Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and USB ports for each seat.

Power comes from a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine combined with a 67kW electric motor,
together with a 13.8kWh battery pack. The combined output is 195kW of power and
350Nm of torque, with power transmitted to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic with
paddle shifters.

As well as Eco and Sport options, all-terrain mode has dial-up Mud, Snow and Sand
settings. Default is EV and Eco mode.

Sorento scores a five-star safety rating, with seven airbags and has Autonomous
Emergency Braking technology with pedestrian, cyclist and vehicle detection. It also
detects oncoming traffic when making a turn at a junction.

Kia’s ‘level two’ autonomous driving technology, Lane Following Assist, controls
acceleration, braking and steering depending on vehicles in front.

It operates from 0-180km/h, using camera and radar sensors to maintain a safe distance
from the car in front, while monitoring road markings to keep the vehicle in the centre of its

There’s also Rear-View Monitor with Reverse Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist, and
Rear Cross-traffic Collision-avoidance Assist.

Second row passengers miss out on side airbags, while the third row misses out on both
side and curtain airbag protection.

Kia claims an all-electric range of 68km, but that’s under the old system. Under the newer
WLTP regime, which uses different test procedures — the figure is 57km.

Energy consumption is rated at 16.1kWh/100km.

The 140kg lithium-ion battery pack is located under the second row of seats and because
the vehicle was designed with this in mind, Kia says it does not compromise interior space.

In fact, although the new model is only 10mm longer at 4810mm, the wheelbase has
grown by 35mm which means more room inside than before.

It’s also 10mm wider and, with all seven seats deployed, there is 32 percent more boot
space. The boot, however, is still smaller than the standard model.

There’s a full-size alloy spare wheel.

Other design elements from other models include a new ‘shark fin’ element on its rear C-
pillar, and sculpted body surfaces with sharp creases.

Electric and hybrid modes are interchangeable. In hybrid or HEV mode, it operates from
both energy sources, the engine and the electric motor simultaneously.

With claimed fuel consumption of 1.6L/100km, we clocked up 1085km over a three-week
period at a rate of 6.0 L/100km.

With the battery fully charged it used significantly less than this — about 5.2L/100km — but
to be honest we couldn’t be bothered constantly charging the thing.

The 1.6L/100km represents the amount of fuel consumed over a distance of 100km, under
controlled conditions, minus the 57km contribution of the battery. To get it, or even come
close to it — you need a fully charged battery and to travel in EV mode for the first 57km.

The good news is that you can drive the Sorento like a run-of-the-mill parallel self-charging
hybrid and it performs pretty well in this mode, with the battery rarely falling below 15 per
cent – charge or no charge. This means performance always benefits from boost by the
electric motor.

Only under full load does it start to feel unconvincing, like the four it actually is — wrapped
in a big diesel body.

Here it is perhaps timely to mention the tow rating is a rather uninspiring 1350kg (that’s
with trailer brakes).

PHEV comes with a Type 2 charging socket and is supplied with a Type 2 to powerpoint

Charging this way takes up to six hours, or 3.5 hours if you install an optional 3.3kW wall

If you’d like to make use of a faster, commercial charger such as those found at shopping
centres, you’ll need to acquire another optional cable.

The vehicle is covered by the 7-Year unlimited kilometre Warranty, 7-Year Capped Price
Service and 7-Year Roadside Assist.

The latest Kia Sorento is a tour de force and I really wanted to like the PHEV.

But spending $82,000, almost $15,000 more than the diesel equivalent, for a car that will
travel a maximum of 57km on electricity alone, just doesn’t make sense.

Add to this the prospect of having to charge the car frequently to achieve the claimed fuel
consumption and it becomes even less attractive.

I can hear Darryl Kerrigan’s words now: “Tell him he’s dreamin’.”
I’ll take the diesel — any day of the week.


Looks: 8.5/10
Performance: 7/10
Safety: 7.5/10
Thirst: 8/10
Practicality: 6/10
Comfort: 7.5/10
Tech: 8.5/10
Value: 6/10
Overall: 7.4/10


Kia Sorento PHEV GT-Line, $81,990 driveaway
Note: This price does not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Kia dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Kia Sorento PHEV GT-Line, 1.6 turbo petrol plugin hybrid, 6sp
automatic, AWD)
Combined output
Maximum Power: 195 kW
Maximum Torque: 350 Nm
Maximum power: 132kW @ 5500 rpm
Maximum torque: 265Nm @ 1500-4500 rpm
Fuel Type: 91 RON unleaded petrol
Fuel consumption: 1.6L/100km
Maximum power: 67kW @ 2100-3300 rpm
Maximum torque: 304Nm @ 0-2100 rpm
Battery size: 13.8kWh
Energy consumption (WLTP): 16.1kWh/100km
CO2 Emissions: 36g/km
DRIVELINE: Six-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Length: 4810 mm
Wheelbase: 2815 mm
Width: 1900 mm
Height: 1700 mm
Turning Circle: 11.6 m
Kerb Mass: 2056kg
Front: 325 mm ventilated disc
Rear: 325 mm ventilated disc

Seven years / unlimited kilometres


About Chris Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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