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Kia Sorento HEV: Crossing over to a more sophisticated style

By Ghaith Madadha - Aug 22,2023 - Last updated at Aug 22,2023

Photo courtesy of Kia

A thoroughly better appointed, equipped and designed vehicle than it has ever been since its 2002 introduction, the Kia Sorento has over the years evolved from a more traditional and rugged compact SUV to a contemporary on-road oriented mid-size crossover with a big emphasis on comfort, design, and tech.

Launched in 2020, the fourth generation Sorento includes the featured HEV model incorporating a small, but powerful combustion engine and electric motor for confident performance, refined delivery and frugal fuel consumption.

 

Distinctly dramatic

 

Distinctly more stylised than before, the new Sorento ditches its predecessors’ swept back style for a distinctly more dramatic and overtly aggressive design featuring a wide and hungry take on Kia’s signature tiger nose grille, more jutting bumpers and tailgate spoiler, recessed, heavily browed headlights and sculpted surfacing. Upright and assertive, it also features a clamshell bonnet, and sharper and more sophisticated vertically-oriented rear lights, but nevertheless retains a subtle link predecessors in profile, with the use of a similar rear quarter glasshouse outline and pillar rake.

Driven by a turbocharged 1.6-litre direct injection four-cylinder engine developing 177BHP at 5,500rpm and 195lb/ft torque throughout 1,500-4,500rpm, the Sorento HEV’s combustion engine is further complemented with an electric synchronous motor developing 59BHP at 1,600-2,000rpm and 194lb/ft torque at 0-1,600rpm. With a healthy combined system output of 227BHP at 5,500rpm and 258lb/ft throughout a broad 1,500-4,400rpm band, the Sorento HEV is a confidently capable performer, and can propel its 1.8-tonne mass through the 0-100km/h acceleration benchmark in 8.5-seconds.

 

Confident cruising

 

In its element on the highway and through fast B-roads, the Sorento HEV proved muscularly versatile in accumulating speed when on the move, and can accelerate through 80-120km/h in 5.8-seconds. Comfortable and well-suited as a long distance cruiser, the Sorento HEV effortlessly directs its combined output in this application, with its regenerative brakes having enough opportunity to recharge its batteries. Returning moderate 6.35l/100km combined cycle fuel consumption, the Sorento HEV can meanwhile attain up to 120km/h in electric mode and a top speed of 193km/h.

Responsive from standstill and imbued with gutsy low and mid-range torque that underwrites its power accumulation, the Sorento HEV tackles inclines with assured confidence. However, high power and heavy load driving on steep inclines in a sustained and prolonged manner would be expected to quickly deplete its batteries, as is almost always the case with hybrids, which rely on off-throttle and braking kinetic energy recovery. The Sorento HEV’s 6-speed automatic gearbox meanwhile operates in smooth and sufficiently quick fashion through ratios and in manual mode shifting.

 

Smooth operator

 

Pulling through wind resistance with confident ease, the Sorento HEV is smooth, refined and flexibly builds speed. Dispatching distances with comfort and quiet, the Sorento HEV proved firm yet forgiving over highway and in town imperfections and well-absorbed moderate bumps and potholes, even with its low profile 235/55R19 tyres. Settled and stable at speed, the Sorento HEV rides with a more buttoned down manner than the wafty quality of its Kia K8 HEV large saloon sister, with which it shares its drive-train. 

Tidier and more direct in its dynamics than expected of its class, the Sorento HEV’s steering it light and accurate, if not particularly feelsome, while turn-in grip and rear road-holding on exit are reassuring, as driven in moderate conditions. Stable through sweeping corners, the Sorento HEV feels settled and comparatively well-controls body lean. Also offered with all-wheel-drive for improved traction, the Sorento HEV, however, impressed in being more responsive to throttle lift-off than many turbocharged hybrid vehicles, which are often more reluctant to wind down from high revs.

 

Cavernous comfort

 

Spacious and comfortable inside, the Sorento’s cabin has a thoroughly modern and upmarket, if perhaps busy, flavour, and uses pleasant textures, decent material and a stylised design. It incorporates centre controls that are framed between air vents, and which is echoed by the centre console design. It also features a thick sporty steering wheel and an upright wall comprised of digital instrument cluster and large infotainment screen. Well-equipped with a multitude of convenience, comfort, infotainment, safety and other features, the Sorento certainly has a high tech ambiance.

With big well-adjustable seats providing good comfort and an accommodating driving position, the Sorento also offers good front visibility. Mid-row eating is similarly good and includes decent headroom for adults, while its third row seats are useable, if not especially spacious. Allowing for good cabin access through its doors, the Sorento meanwhile also delivers good cargo carrying capacities, from a minimum of 356-litres with all seven seats up, to a cavernous van-like 2,138-litre maximum when the rear two rows are folded down.

 

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Engine: 1.6-litre, turbocharged transverse 4-cylinders, & synchronous electric motor
  • Bore x stroke: 75.6 x 89mm
  • Valve-train: Direct injection, DOHC, 16-valve, continuously variable valve timing
  • Gearbox: 6-speed automatic, front-wheel-drive
  • Gear ratios: 1st 4.639:1; 2nd 2.826:1; 3rd 1.841:1; 4th 1.386:1; 5th 1:1; 6th 0.772:1
  • Reverse/final drive: 3.385:1/3.51:1
  • Petrol engine power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 177 (180) [132] @5,500 rpm
  • Electric motor power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 59 (60) [44.2] @1,600-2,000rpm
  • Combined power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 227 (230) [169] @5,500rpm (estimated)
  • Petrol engine torque, lb/ft (Nm): 195 (265) @1,500-4,500rpm
  • Electric motor torque, lb/ft (Nm): 194 (264) @0-1,600rpm
  • Combined torque, lb/ft (Nm): 258 (350) @1,500-4,400rpm (estimated)
  • 0-100km/h: 8.6-seconds
  • 80-120km/h: 5.8-seconds
  • Top speed (EV mode): 193km/h (120km/h)
  • Fuel consumption, combined: 6.35l-litres/100km
  • Fuel capacity: 70-litres
  • Battery: 270V lithium-ion, 60Ah
  • Track, F/R: 1,651/1,661mm
  • Minimum ground clearance: 174mm
  • Approach/break-over/departure angles: 16.8°/15.1°/21.3°
  • Headroom, F/M/R: 1,023/993/934mm
  • Leg room, F/R: 1,051/1,033/751mm
  • Shoulder room, F/R: 1,501/1,475/1,346mm
  • Turning circle: 11.55-metres
  • Suspension, F/R: MacPherson struts/multi-link
  • Brakes: Ventilated discs, 325mm
  • Tyres: 235/55R19
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