The Kia Sorento Hybrid may just be the perfect SUV for the modern suburban family.

What is it?

The latest feather to be added to Kia’s SUV cap, and yet another variant of its seven-seat flagship SUV, the 2022 Kia Sorento GT-Line Hybrid – or HEV – comes as a partially-electrified, better value alternative to the eye-wateringly expensive Sorento PHEV. Priced from $66,750 in front-wheel drive guise as tested here, it goes right at hybrid kingpin Toyota and its Kluger Grande Hybrid.

What’s the 2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid like inside?

By and large, the Sorento GT-Line Hybrid remains unchanged from the full-fat petrol, diesel, and plug-in hybrid Sorento variants, with this hybrid equivalent still feeling just as impressive in terms of the sheer amount of kit you get for your dollar. 

First impressions don’t leave you wanting much more, especially considering just how much thought has been put toward making the Sorento a comfortable, but also endlessly practical and pleasant space to be in. Qi wireless phone charging is available for the front row in addition to USB chargers, and second row passengers benefit from USB charging points cleverly integrated into the rear of the front seats – handy for charging tablets used for kids entertainment, for example.

When it comes to space, Kia has afforded the front two rows plenty of space to stretch out, as well as practically-sized cupholders nestled in the door cards. However, I’d reserve the rather undersized third row seating only for your smallest – or worst-behaved – child. To keep them in check, Kia has also fitted Passenger Talk – an in-car intercom system designed, hopefully, to save your voice when speaking to those rearmost passengers.

The Sorento isn’t lacking when it comes to cargo space, though, with a whopping 1996 litres of cargo space on offer when the second and third rows of seats are folded flat.

Quilted Nappa leather heated and cooled front seats, heated second row seats, an impressively responsive 10.25-inch touchscreen, 360-degree camera, Bose sound system, ambient mood lighting, and an expansive panoramic sunroof round off the main features from the interior of the Sorento Hybrid.

It’s safe to say that, in general, the amount of features and the quality of materials on offer is what you’d expect to see in something from a more premium brand. In fact, it’s so good you’ll almost have to remind yourself it isn’t German.

What’s under the bonnet of the 2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid?

Much like its PHEV counterpart, the Sorento Hybrid boasts a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine good for 132kW and 265Nm by itself. However, where it differs is in using a less powerful 44kW electric motor, meaning its combined output is only 169kW versus the PHEV’s 195kW, although both offer the same 350Nm of torque. This power plant is backed by a six-speed torque converter automatic transmission and the choice of front or all-wheel drive.

The other major difference between the Hybrid and PHEV variants is the battery that’s used to power the electric motor. The Hybrid uses a tiny 1kWh lithium-ion battery useful only for short stints of electric-only driving, while the plug-in hybrid’s 16kWh battery can be used for longer stints. The PHEV’s battery is a whole 85kg heavier as well, and necessitates a smaller 47-litre fuel tank; this hybrid, meanwhile, has a 67-litre tank meaning it’ll be better for longer distances.

Speaking of weight, the Sorento HEV is rated to tow up to 1650kg – 300kg more than the PHEV – with a 100kg downball rating, meaning a smaller caravan should be no problem behind it.

What’s the 2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid like to drive?

After being thoroughly impressed by the diesel and plug-in versions of the Sorento, it will come as no surprise that we can say the same for this hybrid. The driving experience, much like the variant as a whole, sits as a comfortable compromise between the diesel and PHEV versions.

Whilst you wouldn’t ever buy a seven-seat hybrid SUV for its performance, the Sorento HEV makes an impressive case for itself. When it comes to power delivery, it lays it on smoothly and with surprising gusto for something just shy of 1900kg, you wouldn’t find yourself wanting much more when it comes to daily duties around town or out on the open road. 

The six-speed transmission works well paired with the front-wheel drive layout, although I wouldn’t bother using the paddle shifters – a two-second delay between pulling the paddle and it actually changing gear is shamefully slow. Likewise, the throttle displays some lag on occasion – after a burst of hard acceleration, there can be a near one-second delay between releasing the pedal and that burst of acceleration ceasing.

But let’s not forget that the Sorento is a hybrid seven-seat SUV, and for what it’s worth, and it does what it says on the packet and then some. It feels surprisingly confident through corners, although the FWD model does have a tendency to understeer – albeit less than one might expect from a 1883kg front-wheel drive SUV. Opting for the AWD model will resolve this, but it’s up to you to decide if that’s worth the $3000 cost to upgrade. For those rarely venturing beyond city limits, saving the money will likely be the better option.

It’s worth noting that in the city, there’s a mass of safety technology to keep you safe, as the Sorento boasts just about every acronym known to man: ABS, ESC, VSM, TSA, DAA+, LKA, LFA, LCA, FCWS… and that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Admittedly, some of the safety measures can be a bit overbearing – being notified whenever you come within 150m of a school, regardless of the time of day or day of the week, will seriously disrupt your jam session. In addition to this, you’ll also receive two noisy alerts for every fixed speed camera. Luckily, safety features and alerts can be switched on and off and customised to your liking. 

How do the numbers add up?

In urban traffic, the Sorento Hybrid shows just what it was built for, as we managed to beat its 5.5L/100km urban consumption claim with fuel use of just 4.4L/100km on a stop/start traffic loop. However, driving on the open road undoes some of the inner-city benefits of the hybrid system, but you’ll still see under seven on the dash. Ultimately, after 700km of testing in about every scenario you can think of, we saw consumption of 6.5L/100km compared to the 5.3L/100km combined claim. Not bad at all for a vehicle of this size.

Kia offers a very generous seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty – for a long time it was the industry leader in this respect, but has recently been bested by Mitsubishi’s asterisked 10-year/200,000km offering. 12 months of complimentary roadside assistance is also included as standard, as well as seven-years/70,000km of capped price servicing at a rather steep average of $623 per service, with the most expensive service (four-years/40,000km) costing just under $1000. I’m unsure if Kia’s ‘Genuine Windscreen Washer Fluid’ is a necessity, but to the company’s credit, it’s remarkably transparent in regards to what is included at each service interval. 

It’s also worth noting that at $66,750 before on-road costs, the Sorento GT-Line Hybrid FWD quite comfortably sits $13,580 shy of the GT-Line PHEV, while the AWD model (all-wheel drive is standard on the PHEV) costs $10,580 less. However, the Sorento Hybrid isn’t priced that much higher than the comparable GT-Line Petrol FWD ($62,070) or GT-Line Diesel AWD ($65,070). It’s also noticeably cheaper than the $75,700 Toyota Kluger Grande Hybrid AWD, representing a $8950 saving for this FWD model or $5950 for the more comparable AWD version.

So, what’s the verdict?

The 2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid does everything it says on the box, and then some. It is one of the most thoughtfully put-together SUVs on the market, and comes with an impressive amount of kit whichever way you measure it up.

Whilst it isn’t as economical as the Plug-In Hybrid model, it is a great deal cheaper – to the tune of five digits – and you needn’t worry about plugging it in to charge. That said, making a circa-1900kg SUV that’s as fuel efficient as the Sorento Hybrid is no small feat. If you’re looking to make the switch to a partially-electrified seven-seater at a reasonable cost, this is the car for you. 

The Sorento will comfortably tackle just about anything you can throw at it, be that six kids, six inebriated adults behaving like kids, or perhaps six dogs who may as well be your adopted kids. The ride quality is faultless, there is no lack of power in typical daily driving conditions, and with plenty of time between fuel stops, the kids (or drunken adults) won’t be able to nag you to buy snacks at the servo. And if they do try to, you can simply use the intercom system to rebuke them. Conclusively, then, it’s better on the back pocket in the long run. 

Truly, it’s a near-faultless offering, and one that serves as an ideal stepping stone towards an electrified future.

2022 Kia Sorento HEV GT-Line List Price: $66,750
  • 8/10
    Performance - 8/10
  • 8.5/10
    Ride & Handling - 8.5/10
  • 9/10
    Tech & Features - 9/10
  • 8.5/10
    Practicality - 8.5/10
  • 8/10
    Value for Money - 8/10

Pros: Smooth and refined drivetrain, impressive fuel economy, packed with plenty of tech and luxuries for the price tag
Cons: Overbearing safety features, lethargic throttle pedal and paddle shifters, third row isn’t the most spacious

Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by Kia Motors Australia for a week with a full tank of fuel.

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