We’ve already sung the praises of the Sorento, introduced hot on the heels of the fast-selling Kia Telluride. It’s become the go-to-choice for those who financially can’t swing the larger, pricier vehicle.
Having been redesigned for 2021, the Kia Sorento enters the new model year with a handful of updates and the addition of a Plug-In Hybrid, the greenest version of the 2022 Sorento Kia will offer, with a combined EPA rating of 79 MPGe.
The Sorento’s gas-powered siblings, which are offered with front-wheel or all-wheel drive, in a bewildering number of trim levels. The letters most likely stand for something, but the sheer number of them is sure to sow confusion among consumers. They include LX, S, X-Line S, EX, X-Line EX, SX, SX-P, and X-Line SX-P.
Hybrids differ, however. They have fewer trim levels — including S, EX, SX and SX-P and all come with front-wheel drive, although S and EX can be fitted with all-wheel drive.
All models receive a standard 10.25-inch digital infotainment screen for 2022.
Our test vehicle, a Hybrid EX, costs $2,000 more than the Hybrid S, adding such frills as LED fog lights, gloss black exterior trim, panoramic sunroof with power shade, height adjustable power tailgate, wireless phone charger, smart cruise control with stop and go, and forward collision avoidance assist.
Designed in Irvine, California, and built in West Point, Georgia, the Sorento’s chiseled look is more memorable than the forgettable 2020 model’s styling. Some of the design mojo comes from styling cues shared with the pricier Telluride, such a its large chunky taillights and Tiger Shark grille. But a liberal use of black plastic trim lends this three-row model a tougher, sportier look.
If there’s one way to tell a Telluride from a Sorento, it’s in the third row, where space is far tighter for adults, and the 12.6-cubic-foot cargo area is notably smaller. But fold those seldom-used rear seats and you’ll find the Sorento more than accommodating. Keep in mind the Hybrid comes standard with second-row captain’s chairs; a bench seat is not available.
The standard leatherette seats offer an admirable balance of comfort and support. There’s also plenty of head and legroom in the first two rows. The EX includes such conveniences as steering wheel controls for Bluetooth, audio and cruise control, and dual automatic climate control, and overall fit and finish is satisfying.
Conventionally powered Sorentos come with a 2.5-liter gas engine either with turbocharging (281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet torque) or without (191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet torque).
Both are mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Hybrid models get a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine, a 44-kilowatt electric motor and a 1.5-kilowatt-hour battery that funnels 227 horsepower through a 6-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels.
All-wheel drive is optional on the S and EX hybrids, splitting the difference between the Sorento’s 2.5-liter engine options. The new Sorento PHEV gets a larger 66.9-kW electric motor mated to the 1.6-liter turbo engine and 6-speed slushbox. Finally, the Sorento Hybrid is rated to tow 2,000 pounds, 1,500 pounds less than its conventionally-powered siblings.
Safety and technology
The Sorento has an impressive suite of driver-assistance safety technology, including Rear Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist, Parking distance warning, Safe Exit Assist, Speed Limit Assist, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Lane Keep Assist System, Lane Departure Warning System and Lane Following Assist.
Despite that, it only earns four stars in overall crash safety from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with a four-star rating for front crash and rollover protection and five stars for side crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the Sorento’s crashworthiness “Good” in all categories.
As for technology, the Sorento Hybrid EX comes with an AM/FM audio system with Satellite Radio, UVO telematics, wireless charging pad, and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. All Sorentos now have a standard 10.25-inch touchscreen, rather than the smaller 8-inch screen offered on some 2021 models. It responded quickly to inputs and features a blessedly simple user interface.
When it’s time to move, you’ll find that the plenty of grunt, particularly at low speeds, when the effortless, quiet nature of the electric driveline provides for calm, quiet acceleration.
That said, at highway speeds, there are times when the driveline software provides little to no assist. Say the traffic slows down, and you want a bit of speed as you switch lanes. Stomp the throttle and you get nothing; just a long wait until the microprocessors decide to pony up some power. It made for some teeth-gnashing moments.
The solution is to avoid the Eco driving mode on the highway, and opt for the Sport mode instead. But this gave the vehicle’s responses a spasmodic feel. Otherwise, the Sorento Hybrid’s seamless driveline means that you won’t notice the transition from electric to gas. Fuel economy measure 35.5 mpg in mostly highway driving.
The Sorento’s cabin is quiet around town, although it does get noticeably noisier at highway speed. Overall ride comfort is very good, with the Sorento absorbing bumps with little if any rebound. Yet it never proves harsh.
2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid EX FWD specifications:
|Dimension||L: 154 inches/W: 68.3 inches/H: 48.6 inches/Wheelbase: 90.9 inches|
|Powertrain||2.0-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine; 6-speed manual transmission|
|Fuel Economy||26 mpg city/34 mpg highway/29 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $26,830; As tested: $35,770 including $945 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
Very much the middle child of the Sorento line-up, the Sorento Hybrid continues to be an admirable compromise between power and fuel economy. And once you compare the Hybrid’s trim levels to its gas-powered sibling, the extra green you’ll spend up front will easily be made up within a few years by the amount of fuel you’ll save. This one’s a no-brainer. If you’re buying a Sorento, buy the Hybrid.
2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid — Frequently Asked Questions
Will the 2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid come in AWD?
An all-wheel-drive model has been added for the Hybrid in S and EX trim.
How much bigger is the Telluride than the Sorento?
The Telluride is 8 inches longer, 4 inches wider, 2 inches taller, and at least 200 pounds heavier than the Sorento depending on the model and options.
Does the Kia Sorento Hybrid have to be plugged in?
No, but Kia offers a 2022 Sorento that does. It has an electric-only driving range of 32 miles, and an overall driving range projected to be 460 miles.