Well I think its safe to say that Kia have upped their game in the style department! I mean just take a look at this new Sorento and tell me it doesn’t look good. Finally a vehicle with real road presence that looks purposeful and functional all at the same time. Given the size of the new Sorento you would be forgiven for thinking its powered by a massive petrol or diesel lump but believe it of not, this all new Plug-in Hybrid has a 1.6-litre petrol engine working in harmony with an electric motor! More on that later but essentially what we are looking at here, is one of very few seven-seat plug-in hybrid SUVs available on the market, and probably the most practical. With up to 57 kilometres range from a single charge of its 13.8 kWh battery drivers should be able to complete many journeys including their daily commute, on zero-emissions electric power alone. Our daily commute was a little more than that but it cruised at the motorway speed limit on electric power only bringing in the petrol engine for overtaking with ease.
So lets see what Kia have done inside of the flagship Sorento because the brand are claiming this is their most high-tech car ever. By amalgamating progressive connectivity, driver assistance and infotainment technologies you get a user-friendly twin digital displays that deliver amazing graphics, new telematics features and full wireless smartphone Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. You can keep track of the powertrain’s status including the battery via a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster. Charging points are easily located on the go using the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system but by far the coolest thing is the blind-spot camera screens that pops onto the dash when you turn left or right. This little circular screen is incredible, not just when parking but also on the motorway when you go to overtake. It has to be seen or rather experienced for you to understand the benefits. Our test vehicle was in K4 trim, which is top of the range. The materials used throughout were second to none and with beautiful mood lighting it really is a nice place to be. Space is plentiful also meaning five people and a significant amount of luggage can travel with ease. The automatic tailgate lifts to reveal a boot large enough to take a buggy and a couple of suitcases. With all seven seats in use the 175-litre boot can still accommodate enough for a family day out or a couple of sports bags etc.
So providing that get up and go is not a fire breathing monster as mentioned above but a powerful 1.6-litre T-GDi engine, producing up to 180PS and 265Nm torque. Add to this an electric motor producing 67kW with 304Nm torque and the combined powertrain offers up to 265PS and 350Nm of torque. This makes it the most powerful Sorento ever believe it or not! Kia cleverly mounted the electric motor between the engine and transmission. This layout allows the Sorento Plug-in Hybrid to operate in all-electric mode, or draw on a blend of electric and combustion engine power providing power to the front wheels or all four wheels. Now the big question is where did they locate the battery pack? A lot of these hybrids suffer from space intrusion as manufacturers struggle to best position the batteries. Well not in this case. Kia developed a saddle-shaped battery pack that lays over the top of the prop shaft beneath the driver and front passenger seats. This layout means the battery pack doesn’t intrude on space like it has done on so many others! The battery pack features an independent water-cooling system for optimal heat management and efficiency. Given the confined location this was a must to allow self-contained cooling system to regulate temperature effectively. All really clever stuff!
The new Kia Sorento looks sturdy and safe and it most certainly is. Having been awarded the highest-possible 5-star safety rating by Euro NCAP buyers will be delighted to see standard safety features include Bind Spot Detection, Front Collision Avoidance, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Follow Assist, Smart Cruise Control, Highway Drive Assist, Smart Cruise Control and Parking Sensors Front and Rear. The Sorento achieved 82% for adult occupant protection, 85% for child occupant protection, 63% for pedestrian protection, and 87% in the ‘Safety Assist’ category making it very impressive indeed.
Available in two trim levels, the K3 1.6 T-GDi AWD is coming in at €50,000 with 19-inch Alloys, 10.25-inch Navigation Screen with Telematics, Rear View Camera, 12.3-inch TFT monitor, leather upholstery with heated front seats and charge ports on all three rows of seats all as standard. Our test model was the K4 model priced at €55,000. This adds more comfort and safety features including the panoramic sunroof, driver and passenger power seats, an incredible 12 speaker Bose sound system, rear heated seats, power opening /adjustable tailgate, Blind View Monitor, Around View Monitor and Parking Collision Avoidance. These prices include the SEAI grant contribution of €5000.
We really enjoyed our time with the new Sorento. We had one as a long-term test vehicle many years ago and it’s very impressive to see how far the brand has come. One thing that was a little weak on Sorentos of past was the off road capability. This new model offers enhanced all-terrain capability thanks to a new Terrain Mode. By using the mode dial you now have ‘Mud’, ‘Snow’ and ‘Sand’ modes to play with. We did do some light off roading to see how the drivetrain would adjust the engine torque output and drive distribution but conditions were dry and nothing challenged it. On the road it’s compliant and pleasant to live with turning in beautifully and braking with confidence. For us though, the biggest party piece has to be CO2 emissions output of just 38 g/km (WLTP, weighted combined). That makes it one of the most efficient vehicles in its class with annual road tax of just €140. If that’s not something to smile about then we are not sure what is! Add to this the 7-year warranty and you have true piece of mind in the new Sorento PHEV.
Not a lot really. Just be sure to have a home charger.