2021 Kia Sorento HEV first driving review


Various versions of Kia Sorento have passed Automatic blog The fleet is now several times, and although they are not exciting in any particular way, they provide an attractive combination of generally good features and prices, making it a “just right” SUV for many people. This is an SUV, not only in the level of decoration, but also in the power system has many changes. So is there a “just right” version of the “just right” SUV? Yes, there is, and it is the Kia Sorento HEV in 2021 (and the 2022 model that has just arrived). It has found a satisfactory medium in the lineup, even better in terms of pricing, driving experience and fuel economy. The extensive SUV market also makes it a must-see for buyers.

To quickly explain, this review will mainly focus on the power system of the Sorento hybrid and its relationship with the driving experience. For more information on all other aspects, check out our comprehensive review of Kia Sorento from 2022.

Of course, the main difference of Sorento HEV is its hybrid system. It combines a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and electric motor. The combined output reaches 227 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It connects to a traditional six-speed automatic transmission and your choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. These numbers put it between the 191-horsepower base Sorento and the 281-horsepower turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine, which is installed on all the Sorrentos we have tested before. The HEV is also more powerful than any smaller two-row hybrids (such as Honda CR-V and Toyota’s RAV4 and Venza), but smaller than the larger three-row Toyota Highlander hybrids. There is also the Ford Explorer Hybrid, but it is an expensive exclusive product with a trim level, and it is strange that performance is prioritized at the expense of fuel economy.

Although the Sorento hybrid is among the non-electrified siblings in terms of power, its fuel economy is undoubtedly superior. The front-wheel drive version is the most economical, with a total fuel capacity of 37 mpg, while all-wheel drive reduces the rating to 35 mpg. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, this is about 10 miles per gallon higher than any other Sorento model, and can save you up to $650 in fuel each year. It lags slightly behind the smaller hybrids, with fuel consumption ranging from 38 to 41 mpg (CR-V and Ford Escape), but is comparable to the Highlander Hybrid and is about 10 mpg ahead of the Ford Explorer .

As for the actual driving experience, the turbo hybrid engine is lovely in almost all daily driving situations. When starting under the lights, you will find that the hybrid system eliminates the usual delays caused by the automatic start/stop system restarting the engine. When you step on the accelerator pedal, the electric motor will move you forward, and when the engine starts, it will run very quietly and smoothly.

Around town, the Sorento hybrid is relaxed and happy. Because of the one or two torque punches of the electric motor and the turbine engine, you hardly need to use any speed to pull. It is also very quiet, and electric assist helps to improve response speed. We also appreciate Kia’s use of a traditional six-speed automatic transmission in its hybrid system because it produces a more “normal” acceleration, which is characterized by an increase in speed and then a shift. This avoids the usual hum and abnormal acceleration of hybrid e-CVTs.

When the Sorento hybrid shows its efficiency and trade-offs, you need or want extra acceleration. Under heavy feet, you will hear the bass sound from under the hood, which indicates that the top is a bit weak. Although the gearbox is smooth and usually more comfortable than a CVT, the shift speed is very slow, especially if you try to use paddles. Sports mode basically just maintains longer gears and makes the steering heavier.

Sorento is also very comfortable. The bumps are not harsh and quite quiet. When it does encounter bumps, it is more flexible than we want, but this is not a big problem. The steering is accurate and well weighted, although there is considerable body roll and is not too eager to get on the car. The brake feels spongy, but it is easy to adjust.

As we said before, the interior of Sorento is spacious and stylish. Most notably, the third row is available for adults. It is still not suitable for long-distance travel, but it works. Although the exterior size is larger, it is also impressive considering that the Highlander is not much better. The dashboard is modern, with nice little details, even if the plastic is a bit cheap. The infotainment system is also very easy to use, most of the 2022 models are upgraded to the 10.25-inch touch screen standard. The base LX and some remaining 2021 models get the old, lower-resolution 8-inch system, but it is still equally easy to use.

So how much will you spend to get a Sorento hybrid? This depends to a certain extent on the model year. The 2021 model starts at US$34,765, and the 2022 model starts at US$35,165. Upgrade from S to EX, you will spend 37,765 US dollars, but in 2022, 36,965 US dollars will be slightly less in 2022. The only significant changes to the 2022 model are the aforementioned touch screen and optional all-wheel drive two trims. Both decorations are also fully equipped. One disappointing aspect is that you can’t get the highest SX or the sturdy X-Line trim with a conventional hybrid. Although X-Line is only suitable for gasoline, at least SX can be used for the new 2022 Sorento PHEV. In fact, this is the only decoration available. Of course, this means it is very expensive, starting at about $45,000. At least it comes with a tax rebate, and it does have the ability to run in full electric mode, which may save more fuel costs.

The price of the Sorento hybrid ultimately makes it very close to the more powerful non-hybrid turbocharged models, but considering that Sorento is not a sporty drive, we prefer a substantial fuel economy improvement over additional power. The pricing also places this small three between the smaller two rows and the larger three rows. The high end of the two-row hybrid is the CR-V hybrid, which is priced at $32,165. At the low end of the third row is the Highlander Hybrid, with a base price of $40,070. Of course, if you can avoid the third row, you can save a lot of money, but other than that, Sorento is an excellent value and should be on your short list of three-row SUVs. Compared with the competition, it is stylish, spacious and efficient without sacrificing practicality or performance.

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