The Sorento PHEV is the plug-in hybrid version of Kia’s midsize three-row crossover. It’s packed with features and tech and has an all-electric range of 32 miles. While its price tag of about 50 grand is steep compared to its gas-powered sibling, it’s about the same price as the Mazda CX-90 PHEV and costs less than some luxury rivals, including the BMW X5 and Volvo XC90.
Base Price: $49,990
As Tested: $52,140
Mileage: 79 MPGe electricity + gas / 34 mpg combined gas only
The Sorento PHEV was introduced for the 2022 model year. For 2023, it’s available in only one trim, SX Prestige, with a starting price of $49,990.
It comes well equipped with features such as a premium audio system, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, leather upholstery and a panoramic sunroof.
So far, there aren’t many three-row plug-in hybrids. The Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-90 and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV are the mass-market vehicles, while the BMW X5, Lincoln Aviator, Range Rover P440e, and Volvo XC90 Recharge are the luxury models.
The 2023 Sorento PHEV is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with an electric motor and 13.8-kWh battery pack. Total output is 261 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The transmission is a six-speed automatic.
Acceleration isn’t as brisk as some EVs and PHEVs but still respectable. Once you’re up to speed, there’s plenty of power for merging and passing at freeway speeds. Steering is accurate and the Sorento feels composed when turning. The ride is mostly smooth but you will notice some bumps on rough roads. The brakes have a normal feel and it’s easy to forget that there’s a regenerative braking system at work. Visibility is good all the way around. All in all, the Sorento PHEV is pleasant to drive whether you’re in stop and go city traffic or taking the family on a road trip.
You can select from five different drive modes: Comfort, Sport, Eco, Smart and Snow. Paddle shifters on the steering wheel let you up- or downshift the transmission. You can also choose from different regenerative braking settings.
The Sorento PHEV has 32 miles of all-electric range. During my week-long test drive, I barely used any gas. The transition from electric to gas power is seamless and barely noticeable.
The battery takes about 3 hours and 25 minutes to charge using a 240-volt plug or Level 2 public charger. With a standard 120-volt household plug (Level 1), it can take 10.5 hours for a full charge.
EPA ratings are 79 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) with electricity and gas, and 34 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 34 mpg combined with gas only. I got 89 MPGe during my week with a mix of city and highway driving. I barely used any gas while I had the Sorento PHEV.
When properly equipped, the Sorento PHEV can tow 1,654 pounds.
The cabin is spacious and attractive. Most materials look and feel nice; however, there are some hard plastics. Taller adults enjoy good leg- and headroom in the first two rows, and average-size adults have decent room in the third row. Kia says the Sorento PHEV continues to offer the most passenger room and second-row legroom of any PHEV SUV. Seats are supportive and comfortable. A 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and 10.25-inch touchscreen dominate the dash. There are eight (!) USB ports, making it easy for everyone to plug in their devices.
Standard features include remote keyless entry, remote start, push-button start, surround-view camera system, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, 14-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, 10-way power adjustable front passenger seat, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather shift knob, heated and ventilated front seats, second-row captain’s chairs, heated rear seats, second-row sunshades, 12.3-inch digital gauge display, infotainment system with 10.25-inch touchscreen, 12-speaker Bose premium audio system, navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, voice recognition, wireless smartphone charging, eight USB ports, 115-volt AC plug, universal garage door opener, LED interior lighting, automatic high-beam headlights, rain-sensing wipers, roof rails, and a panoramic sunroof.
Standard driver assistance technologies include forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and bicyclist detection, stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, lane centering assist, blind spot monitoring, highway driving assist, intersection assist, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, front and rear parking sensors, driver attention monitoring, rear seat alert, and vehicle exit warning.
The user-friendly infotainment system looks great with its large 10.25-inch touchscreen. Graphics are sharp and the system responds quickly to touch and voice commands. However, some of the touch buttons are a little small to use while driving.
Cargo space is good for a three-row crossover. With all three rows in place, there are 12.6 cubic feet. With the 50/50-split folding third row down, there are between 38.5 and 45 cubic feet, depending on how far forward the second row is placed. With the third and second rows folded, there are 75.5 cubes. A hands-free power liftgate is standard.
Well equipped with lots of features and tech
Great fuel economy
Roomy and pleasant cabin
Adults can ride in all three rows
User-friendly infotainment system
Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
It’s the most expensive Sorento
Acceleration not as brisk as other PHEVs and EVs
My tester starts at $49,990. The SX Prestige Navy Interior Color Package is $295. Carpeted floor mats are $225. Cargo cover is $190. Carpet cargo mat with seatback protection is $115. Delivery fee is $1,325 bringing the grand total to $52,140.
There aren’t a lot of three-row plug-in hybrids. The 2023 Kia Sorento plug-in hybrid is a top contender in a small field. It’s loaded with features and tech, comes standard with AWD, has excellent fuel economy and is pleasant to drive. While the price tag may deter some would-be buyers, it offers good value for the money.