What is it?
Kia’s seven-seat SUV flagship has been a big success since it first went on sale, and the 2022 Kia Sorento GT-Line PHEV only adds another feather to the model’s cap.
We absolutely loved the torquey and efficient diesel variant we tested back in 2021, and a quick spin in the V6 revealed it’s quite the powerhouse, too.
However, this new plug-in hybrid version – along with a regular hybrid model that sits below it – looks to push the seven-seater forward as we head into an electrified world.
It comes at quite a price, though – $80,330 before on-road costs.
What’s the 2022 Kia Sorento GT-Line PHEV like inside?
Both inside and out, the Sorento GT-Line PHEV remains almost entirely unchanged from its petrol or diesel equivalents.
There are a few minor differences you’ll clock as you look around – the button to switch between EV (electric) mode, HEV (petrol engine), and automatic powertrain modes.
In the instrument cluster, a special gauge takes place of the tachometer showing your throttle input and whether you’re using the battery or the petrol engine.
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There’s also the minor addition of a ‘driver only’ climate control mode, helping to cut down on air conditioner use to preserve electric range.
Beyond these very subtle hybrid-specific things, though, it’s the same impressive interior you get in the normal Sorento GT-Line.
That means a 10.25-inch infotainment screen with a 360-degree camera system; leather upholstery with heated and cooled front seats and heated rear seats; a 12-speaker Bose audio system; and even a passenger intercom system to communicate with third-row occupants.
The third row admittedly isn’t the most spacious for adults, but it’ll be great for kids. Plus, with a clever rear-door blind spot monitor, you won’t have to worry about them letting themselves out if they’re on the driver’s side.
Outside, there’s only one notable change worth mentioning as well – a set of unique 19-inch alloy wheels that are more aerodynamic than the usual 20-inchers the GT-Line model wears.
What’s under the bonnet of the 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV?
The Sorento PHEV uses a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired to an electric motor which combine to produce 195kW and 350Nm.
At any one time, the petrol engine contributes up to 132kW at 5500rpm and 265Nm from 1500-4500rpm; the electric motor can add up to 67kW from 2100-3300rpm and 304Nm from 0-2100rpm.
Unusually, there’s a six-speed torque converter automatic transmission – not the dual-clutch you might expect. All-wheel drive is standard on the PHEV but it uses a conventional mechanical system, rather than another electric motor on the rear axle.
The PHEV also features a 14kWh lithium-ion battery pack to power that electric motor. It promises up to 68km of pure electric range on a full charge, which takes just under 3.5 hours at a max 3.3kW charging speed.
If you’re interested in the non-plug-in HEV model, it’s worth noting it uses the same petrol engine but a less powerful 44kW/264Nm electric motor and only a 1kWh battery for short stints of electric-only driving.
What’s the 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV like to drive?
We’ve loved each iteration of the Sorento we’ve driven before, and you can add the PHEV to that list. It’s smooth, quiet, and incredibly refined – more so than either the petrol or diesel models.
Although a 1.6-litre engine doesn’t sound like much in a big car like this, the added torque of the electric motor makes it seriously zippy when you step on it.
The little turbo mill has proven itself to be economical for freeway and country driving in other Kia and Hyundai models, and it’s even more efficient in this. It’s now running the efficient Atkinson cycle for hybrid models, and it’s absolutely the right engine for the job.
The electric motor mounted between it and the transmission is perfect for using around town as well. There isn’t that much in the way of power from it, but the strong torque figure ensures it’s fine for daily driving. For getting to work or the shops, or doing the school run, you shouldn’t need to burn a drop of fuel.
Admittedly, the conventional auto isn’t the smartest cookie though. The crisp changes of a dual-clutch like you get in the diesel model would feel far more fitting than its slurred shifts.
Additionally, it’s completely unresponsive to the paddles on the steering wheel when you put it in manual mode. There’s a good few seconds’ delay between pulling the paddle and the corresponding shift actually occurring. Shame.
At least the ride and handling is right on the money, though. The refinement in this regard matches that of its drivetrain, with it feeling comfortable yet still able to handle itself confidently through some corners – impressively so for a seven-seater SUV.
How do the numbers add up?
Kia claims fuel consumption of an incredible 1.6L/100km on the combined cycle, and while I couldn’t quite match it, the result I saw was still incredibly impressive.
Over the course of 476km of driving, including in the city and out in the country, I achieved 2.9L/100km. That’s nearly double the claim, but still nothing for an SUV of this size. Additionally, the extra country driving I did raised it substantially; more city driving will keep it down closer to Kia’s claim.
I was also keen to test how far I could get on electric power alone on a single charge. Kia claims 68km is possible; the car itself was less optimistic, expecting only 56km at 100%. Sticking to suburban streets, plus a quick jaunt between towns at 80km/h, I achieved an impressive 63km before the petrol engine finally had to kick back in.
That means there’s more than enough to drive to and from work and the shops, plus do the school run, without burning a single drop of fuel – as long as you charge it overnight or at work.
Kia Motors Australia is generous with its seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty, which also includes 12 months of complimentary roadside assistance. Seven years of capped price servicing is also offered, but it’s quite expensive at an average of $699 per service; the fourth and sixth services each cost over $1000.
That leads onto perhaps the greatest issue with the Sorento PHEV. At $80,330 before on-road costs, it’s very expensive – $10,580 more than the HEV AWD, $15,260 more than the diesel AWD, and a whopping $18,260 more than the petrol FWD.
So, what’s the verdict?
There’s no doubt the 2022 Kia Sorento GT-Line PHEV is one brilliant car to drive. It’s smooth, refined, comfortable, competent, and offers fuel-free daily driving without the compromise of going fully electric.
However, that price tag – combined with the expensive servicing costs – means that this, like many other EVs and PHEVs, is let down simply by the costs associated with being an early adopter.
If you can afford one now, though, take solace in the fact it’s not only brilliant to drive, but can easily come close to achieving the figures Kia promises. However, there’s always the HEV model for those looking to start making the switch to a partially-electrified car at a much lower cost.
2022 Kia Sorento GT-Line PHEV List Price: $80,330
- Performance - 8/108/10
- Ride & Handling - 8.5/108.5/10
- Tech & Features - 8.5/108.5/10
- Practicality - 8.5/108.5/10
- Value for Money - 6.5/106.5/10
Pros: Smooth and refined drivetrain, can easily come close to the promised fuel economy and electric range, packed with plenty of tech and luxuries
Cons: Much more expensive than the equivalent HEV or ICE models, expensive servicing costs compared to an ICE car or an EV
Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by Kia Motors Australia for a week with a full tank of fuel.