Long Covid? Try long Kia. The South Korea automobile maker is suffering lingering
post-pandemic ‘sickness’ with its Sorento Hybrid SUV being held up by supply issues
and the maker offering the vehicle in top-spec GT-Line only. The same goes for the
Plug-in Hybrid.

The Sorento sports utility vehicle has been a major part of the Kia catalogue for two
decades, with the fourth generation seeing the light of day in 2020 in petrol and diesel
variants. Now the range is topped off with petrol / electric hybrids boasting room for
seven occupants.

The hybrid range kicks off with the front-wheel-drive variant selling for $66,750 before
on-road costs. The all-wheel-drive version carries a $3000 premium, pushing the price
up to $69,750. The plug-in hybrid Sorento is on sale from $80,330 before on-roads.
On test was the entry-level Sorento GT-Line Hybrid front-wheel drive, which sells for
$66,750 ($72,566, driveaway). Like all Kias the vehicle is covered by the
manufacturer’s seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty, with roadside assistance.

While retaining much of the Sorento family physical features, the Hybrid has evolved
with a new interpretation of the trademark ‘tiger nose’ grille. It’s now wider, wrapping
around the integrated LED headlights on each side.
This assertive nose is complemented by a wider lower air intake, incorporating wing-
shaped air curtains to channel air around the vehicle.

Quilted Nappa leather appointed seats (front heated and ventilated) set the theme for a
cabin of quality materials and craftsmanship. Three-stage climate control air-
conditioning means comfort all round for occupants, while rear window retractable
blinds help keep the heat at bay and offer privacy for occupants.

Take time out to choose one of the 64 colours that bathes the cabin in ambient light,
pick something from the Sounds of Nature soundscape, or just switch off entirely with
the quiet of the passenger talk in-car intercom.

Access to the third row of seats is made relatively easy by dropping the 60:40 second-
row seatbacks with a handle on the side of the base and sliding the seat forward.

Customising is the name of the game with a 10.25-inch full-colour touchscreen atop the
centre console, plus a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster directly in front of the driver. A
colour head-up display, includes speedo and speed limits on the windscreen.
The touchscreen comes up with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, satellite
navigation details, including a sharp map display, and access to the 12-speaker Bose

The Sorento Hybrid is powered by Kia’s 132 kW / 265 Nm four-cylinder turbocharged
petrol engine combined with a 44 kW / 264 Nm electric motor, charging a 1kWh lithium-
ion battery situated under the boot floor.

Power is put to ground via a six-speed torque converter automatic transmission,
operated by a large knob on the centre console, and front-wheel drive.

The Sorento gained a five-star safety rating in 2020 and includes autonomous
emergency braking with vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist detection, junction assist, lane-
keep assist, lane follow assist (centring), blind-spot assist, rear cross-traffic alert,
parking collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control with stop and / go, front and rear
parking sensors, driver attention alert, multi-collision braking and safe exit assist

As well as 360-degree view of the vehicle when parking and blind-spot assist, on
activation of a turn indicator, the wide-angle surround view monitor displays live footage
of other vehicles in blind spots on the instrument cluster. It also helps wheels keep their
distance from scuffing the sidewalk.

Passive safety is taken care of with seven airbags, including front-centre side.

The Kia Sorento Hybrid has slipped quietly (literally) into Australia, bringing a new
purpose to the Sorento family, thanks to a sophisticated powertrain and some of Kia’s
most advanced technology.

Setting off is under the auspices of the electric motor alone producing maximum torque
on tap instantly. The petrol engine joins in tandem only when needed for added
acceleration or under load.

These switches back and forth are so smooth as to undetectable to the driver. Indeed,
the only indication that the car is acting strictly as an electric vehicle is by the letters EV
displayed on the instrument panel. It is not possible to control these actions manually;
they are automatic powertrain decisions.

Drive modes, such as ECO, Normal, Sport and Smart can be dialled up by means of a
centre-console knob. I found Smart worked well for me as a family cruiser. Kia claims a
combined urban / highway petrol consumption of 5.3 litres per 100 kilometres. The test
vehicle recorded 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres in a mix of mainly town and some country

Anxiety about how far the Sorento hybrid will go without flattening the powertrain
battery is absent as the engine and regenerative braking do the charging automatically.

By activating the turn signal, the wide-angle surround view monitors display live footage
of other vehicles in blind spots on the instrument cluster.
Loading is made easy by the hands-free smart power tailgate, which can be brought
into operation by the key holder pausing behind the vehicle for three seconds for the
tailgate to automatically open.

There’s 187 litres of cargo space behind the third-row (No room for a full-size spare).
Fold these seats flat to increase space to 616 litres. With the second-row seats folded
flat, 2011 litres of space is freed up. Braked towing is up to 1650 kg

With hybrid orders reportedly banked up to the end of next year, the Kia Sorento Hybrid
GT-Line front-wheel drive states a compelling case for being one of the best large
seven-seat sports utility family cruisers around. Step up to the all-wheel drive model for
access to Terrain Select to help take care of tricky conditions off road in sand, mud,
snow etc.

Looks: 7/10
Performance: 6/10
Safety: 7/10
Thirst: 8/10
Practicality: 8/10
Comfort: 7/10
Tech: 8/10
Value: 6/10


Sorento GT-Line V6 FWD: $62,070 ($65,990 driveaway)
Sorento GT-Line Diesel AWD: $65,070 ($68,990)
Sorento GT-Line Hybrid FWD: $66,750 ($72,566)
Sorento GT-Line Hybrid AWD: $69,750 ($76,409)
Sorento GT-Line Plug-in Hybrid: $80,330 ($88,381)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Kia dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Kia Sorento GT-Line Hybrid 1.6L turbocharged, 4-cylinder petrol
engine / electric motor, 1kWh lithium-ion battery, 6sp automatic, FWD SUV)

Capacity: 1.597 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders inline
Maximum Power: 132 kW @ 5500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 265 Nm @ 1500-4500 rpm
Fuel Type: Regular unleaded petrol
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.3 L/100km
CO2 emissions: 121 g/km
Electric motor: 44kW / 264 Nm
Combine Total: 169 kW / 350 Nm

DRIVELINE: Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive

Length: 4810 mm
Wheelbase: 2815 mm
Width: 1900 mm
Height: 1700 mm
Turning Circle: 11.5 metres
Gross Vehicle Mass: 2580 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 67 litres

Front: Disc
Rear: Disc

Seven years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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