Examined: 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV Wants Extra Motor

Plug-in hybrids promise to bridge the hole between internal-combustion automobiles and EVs, providing a helpful quantity of all-electric vary together with the power to fuel up and drive straight to Topeka, identical to you probably did in your ’68 Olds 442. That would appear a really perfect mixture, however seldom do the gasoline and electrical sides of a PHEV play equal roles. For probably the most half, these are fuel automobiles that may periodically impersonate an EV, fairly than the opposite approach round. And whether or not that expertise is helpful is dependent upon two issues: battery capability and the scale of the electrical motor (or motors). As for the primary a part of that equation, the 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV is EPA rated at 32 miles of electrical vary, which is likely to be sufficient to deal with your each day driving. However its electrical motor makes solely 90 horsepower, and therein lies the issue. The entire level of a plug-in hybrid is to make use of it as an EV as a lot as potential, however in EV mode the Sorento’s power-to-weight ratio makes a Yugo appear like a Ferrari SF90 Stradale.

The Sorento’s electrical motor is sandwiched between a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a six-speed automated transmission, with the group combining for 261 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, a big increase over the 227 horsepower of the non-plug-in Sorento Hybrid that we examined final 12 months. Nevertheless, the plug-in’s further 221 kilos of battery contribute to a curb weight 395 kilos heftier than that of the hybrid, though a part of that distinction is attributable to the PHEV’s customary all-wheel drive, and the plug-in solely comes within the increased SX trim stage, too. (The Sorento Hybrid was front-drive just for 2021, though AWD is now obtainable for 2022.) All that further weight greater than offsets the PHEV’s further 34 horsepower, with the plug-in Sorento working the zero-to-60-mph metric in 7.6 seconds versus the hybrid’s 7.2 seconds. The PHEV additionally loses the quarter-mile dash, clocking 15.8 seconds at 89 mph, 0.2 second and three mph slower than the Hybrid. It is probably that an AWD Hybrid would publish very comparable numbers to the PHEV, however the level stays that you simply’re not shopping for the plug-in for efficiency. A Toyota RAV4 Prime this isn’t.

HIGHS: 32 miles of EV vary, tax credit score can offset the upper MSRP, three rows of seats.

So then why would you pay an additional $6800 over an AWD Sorento EX Hybrid? Effectively, initially as a result of you may get most of that cash again, within the type of a federal tax credit score—the PHEV’s 13.8-kWh (11.8 kWh usable) battery qualifies it for a $6587 tax credit score. However the different purpose is since you plan to plug it in as usually as you’ll be able to and reap the benefits of the EV mode’s 79 MPGe EPA effectivity estimate. As a result of as soon as the fuel engine is working, the PHEV isn’t any extra environment friendly than the common hybrid, and in reality somewhat bit worse—34 mpg EPA mixed, to the hybrid’s 35 mpg. Over 600 miles of blended driving, we averaged an underwhelming 26 MPGe.

Michael SimariAutomotive and Driver

To awaken the Sorento’s electrical drivetrain, you usually need to drive it into EV mode utilizing the EV button on the console. As a result of, in contrast to most different PHEVs, the Sorento has an odd disdain for its personal electrical mode and left to its personal gadgets, will run the fuel engine even in light-throttle conditions the place you’d count on it to rely wholly on its electrical energy. With its battery charged, the Sorento usually ignored its personal electrical functionality and stored the 1.6-liter 4 buzzing. Perhaps this was as a result of most of our testing occurred throughout chilly climate—and it appeared like the one approach for it to generate important cabin warmth is to run the engine—however typically it wasn’t that chilly, and the Sorento would nonetheless hoard battery cost for no obvious purpose. Different PHEVs, just like the Chrysler Pacifica and Ford Escape, will attempt to burn up their obtainable electrical vary earlier than firing up the fuel engine. Which is smart. That is why you acquire a plug-in, presumably.

LOWS: Worse EPA mixed fuel mileage than the Sorento Hybrid, underpowered in EV mode, carries numerous further weight.

Michael SimariAutomotive and Driver

The problem, as soon as you have knowledgeable the Sorento that you simply’d choose electrical propulsion, is that now you have obtained 90 horsepower motivating 4490 kilos of Kia. It does not take a lot throttle to get the fuel engine to help in heaving the oars, and acceleration in EV mode is so gradual you possibly can in all probability depart your morning espresso on the roof for a couple of miles if it wants to chill off. In sensible phrases, the Sorento’s EV mode is one thing you have interaction as soon as you have attained your cruising pace and you intend to remain there for some time. It does assist that the electrical motor is upstream from the transmission and thus advantages from a number of gear ratios, however it additionally feels bizarre to have upshifts interrupt your silent electrical driving, shattering the phantasm that that is something however a mutant internal-combustion car.

The Sorento itself is a slick product, however with so many iterations—2.5-liter naturally aspirated, 2.5-liter turbocharged, 1.6-liter turbocharged hybrid, front-drive and all-wheel-drive, 16 totally different trims—it is easy to seek out variations that make extra sense than this one, and for much less cash. At $49,960 as examined in SX Status trim, our Sorento PHEV was much more costly than a top-of-the-line Telluride, a two-time 10Best winner. It is almost $8000 greater than the bottom EV6. If these two fellow Kias symbolize one of the best of the previous and the promise of the longer term, then the Sorento PHEV is an avatar for the muddled current—able to plug in, however nonetheless tethered to the pumps.


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Patrick Moore

Patrick is our chief editor and he's very passionate about cars. He has a bachelor's degree in marketing and he studies journalism. His favorite brand is BMW and he drives an X5 series. When he's not writing for Vehiclenews.net, he enjoys spending time with his family and 9 years old son.

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