Gas prices are still high, but if you aren’t quite ready to switch to a fully electric car, the good news is that there are a growing number of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models to choose from. Plug-in hybrids represent the best of both worlds with a limited electric range and a gas engine to keep you going once the battery is depleted. One good new option if you’re looking for a plug-in hybrid SUV is the 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV.
The Sorento PHEV builds on the hybrid version with its larger battery that gives it 32 miles of electric range. The Sorento plug-in hybrid is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a 66.9-kW electric motor that are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain generates a combined 261 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which is a nice increase over the Sorento Hybrid with its 227 hp. All-wheel drive is standard on the plug-in hybrid.
The PHEV has a combined rating of 79 MPGe, when you’re mostly driving in electric mode, but its rating drops to 34 mpg combined once the battery is depleted.
Inside Sorento has something special that sets it apart from other rivals, like the Toyota RAV4 Prime or Ford Escape PHEV – a third row. In the non-luxury segment there aren’t many options if you want a plug-in hybrid SUV with three rows of seats. The main rival to the Sorento PHEV is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, since it also offers three rows.
The Sorento’s interior feels top notch with its high quality materials, family friendly layout and modern tech features. In front of the driver there’s a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 10.3-inch touchscreen is mounted in the center of the dashboard. A 12-speaker Bose audio system and rear-seat entertainment system are optional. Overall the Sorento’s interior feels a class above the Toyota RAV4 Prime with special details, like stitching on the doors and ambient lighting. Although there is a third row, we have to caution that it’s not really ideal for adults due to the limited legroom. With both rows folded there’s 75 cubic feet of cargo space, but with all three rows up there’s only 12.6 cubic feet of space. With every seat in the house taken, there isn’t much room for a weekend’s worth of gear.
How does it drive? The Sorento PHEV is a comfortable cruiser for the family. The powertrain is quiet, even at full throttle and the suspension does a good job by giving it a smooth ride. We wouldn’t call the driving experience sporty, but it’s competent and refined. The PHEV weighs 395 pounds more than the hybrid version, which eats away all of the extra power it has over the Sorento hybrid. So it’s no surprise that the Sorento PHEV is a tad slower than the hybrid version. If you are wanting more fun behind the wheel, then you should check out the RAV4 Prime with its 302 horsepower on tap.
One interesting detail is the fact that the Sorento’s drivetrain still firing up the gas engine even in situations where you aren’t mashing the pedal to the floor. Even with the battery fully charged, the Sorento acts more like a hybrid unless you press the EV button on the center console, which then forces it to only use the electric motor until the battery is depleted. Other plug-in hybrids usually use up all their electric range before the gas engine comes on.
It’s worth noting that the Sorento PHEV’s electric motor only generates 90 horsepower, so you can imagine how tough of a time it has getting the 4,500 pound SUV down the road on its own. This is why it won’t take much pressure from your foot to get bring the gas engine to life.
The 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV is offered in just two trim levels: SX and SX-Prestige. The pricing starts at $44,990 for the SX and $49,065 for the SX-Prestige. Unfortunately due to the Inflation Reduction Act, the Sorento PHEV isn’t eligible for a federal tax credit since it isn’t assembled in the US.
With the addition of the PHEV, the Sorento’s lineup has something for everyone with two gas engine options, the hybrid and the new plug-in hybrid.