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The Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) is an ultra-low emissions version of the brand’s flagship global SUV. Designed and engineered to take on everything life throws at it, the new Sorento PHEV combines supreme practicality with the lowest emissions and highest power output in Kia’s European Sorento range.
The new Sorento PHEV is the second electrified model in the new Sorento line-up, alongside the low-emissions Sorento Hybrid. The new PHEV powertrain broadens the appeal for the D-segment SUV, combining a powerful turbocharged gasoline engine with a high capacity battery pack and high output electric motor. With a fully charged battery pack, the powertrain enables drivers to complete shorter drives on all-electric, zero-emissions power.
The PHEV variant achieves this while maximising space and versatility. The innovative platform that underpins the fourth-generation Sorento has been designed from the outset to accommodate electrified powertrains. The new platform and large body ensure it retains the generous cabin and luggage space and five- and seven-seat layouts that define other models in the line-up.
A mainstay of Kia’s global line-up, more than three million Sorento models have been sold worldwide since it was launched in 2002. In that time, Europe has accounted for around 300,000 of these sales.
A more confident, mature and desirable design
Stylish and modern, the new Sorento is the flagship for Kia’s reinvigorated global SUV line-up, alongside the Stonic, Seltos and Sportage, as well as the Kia Telluride available in North America and certain other markets. The new model is the result of a collaborative design effort by Kia’s worldwide design network.
The concept of ‘refined boldness’ inspired Kia’s designers, who sought to maintain the robust, tough-looking aesthetic of earlier generations of Sorento, while applying a greater degree of refinement and elegance, and even a sense of sportiness. Its bodywork incorporates sharp lines and creases – noticeably more sculpted than its more round-edged predecessor. With more contemporary geometric details and more swept-back, elongated proportions, the result is a more confident, more mature and more desirable design than ever.
The front of the Sorento with Kia’s hallmark ‘tiger nose’ grille, displays a wide shape which organically wraps around the integrated headlamps on each side. The headlamps themselves feature a new ‘tiger eyeline’ LED daytime running light, adding extra focus to the design by depicting the intense impression of the lines around a tiger’s eyes. This sharp, assertive appearance is complemented by a wide, rectangular lower air intake, bookended by wing-shaped air curtains to channel air around the car. A sharp bumper lip is also capped with a skid plate, enhancing its robust appearance. The new model is 1,900 mm wide, 10 mm wider than the third-generation Sorento.
In profile, the proportions of the Sorento are subtly adapted to make it appear longer. The new model is 10 mm longer than its predecessor (now 4,810 mm), yet it features shorter front and rear overhangs. The additional length is found in the wheelbase (a result of the Sorento’s new platform), which has grown by 35 mm to 2,815 mm. This subtly adapts the visual character of the Sorento, making it look longer and ‘faster’, despite being 10 mm taller. It also extends the length of the bonnet, drawing the A-pillar 30 mm further back from the front axle. The trailing edge of the hood wraps around the front wings and turns into a single, strong character line which extends along the side of the Sorento and into the rear lamps.
Ever recognisable as a Sorento, it retains the characteristic wide D-pillar, substantial bodywork and clad wheel arches that have defined all three generations to-date. It also adopts certain other design features from more recent Kia models, however, including a new dynamic shape on its C-pillar and sculpted body surfaces with sharp creases.
Inspired by the Telluride, the Sorento adopts new vertical tail lamps which wrap around the side of the body. Sharper lines in the bodywork echo the straight, technical appearance of the front of the car, with horizontal shapes used to make the vehicle appear wider and more imposing on the road. Trim on the sporty lower rear bumper mimics the appearance of dual tailpipes and, like the front, features a skid plate to add to its tough SUV aesthetic. The fourth-generation model follows other recent Kia models, such as Telluride and ProCeed, with the Sorento model name displayed centrally across the tailgate. A subtle integrated spoiler also conceals the rear wiper, resulting in a less fussy design and enhancing the driver’s view out of the back.
The new Sorento PHEV will be available in Europe with a choice of up to 10 paint finishes, and sits on 19-inch aluminium alloy wheels. The new plug-in hybrid variant is further differentiated from hybrid and diesel models with exclusive ‘ECOplug-in’ badges. A charging port is integrated into the rear three-quarters – opposite the fuel tank on the other side of the car.
Attractive, upscale cabin with premium material quality and progressive tech
The interior of the fourth-generation Sorento represents a step-change in quality and design for Kia cabins. From the first-generation 2002 Kia Sorento, which provided occupants with a practical, robust and utilitarian space, the Sorento today provides owners with something altogether more striking, desirable and comfortable.
One of the highest quality interior spaces found in any Kia to-date, the intuitive, tech-oriented cabin of the new Sorento is fitted with premium-quality materials and cutting-edge infotainment. At the same time, it retains the spaciousness and versatility that has characterised the Sorento over its 18-year existence.
The attractive, upscale cabin introduces a sophisticated next-generation design, based around twin digital displays in the dashboard. The 12.3-inch digital driver instrument cluster is twinned with a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system at the centre of the dashboard. These display information clearly within the driver’s line of sight, and create an innovative wide-screen user experience. The graphics of the new digital instrument cluster change depending on the selected drive mode, ‘Smart’, ‘Sport’ or ‘ECO’. Drivers can also select a dynamic display theme, according to the time of day and weather conditions.
The car’s many functions can also be controlled with new haptic buttons on either side of the screen, which also feature further down the dashboard for the climate control system. The focal point of the dashboard is the eye-catching vertical ventilation stack, with a chrome-effect surround that extends onto the centre console below.
The cabin of the new Sorento subtly integrates a range of other technologies, including an available Mood Lighting system, which emits soft ambient downlighting from beneath the dashboard and door trim, creating a lounge-like feeling and greater sense of space. A wireless smartphone charger also sits at the base of the centre console, while a powerful BOSE® surround-sound system is also available to provide a more immersive in-car audio experience.
Material quality is enhanced, with a cabin that blends metallic trim, leather upholstery, and gloss black and embossed satin-effect surfaces. Applied throughout the interior and across the dashboard, the cabin boasts a more sophisticated appearance and ambience as a result. In Europe, the Sorento PHEV is offered to buyers with a choice of black cloth, leather (grey or black single-tone, or black-and-grey two-tone), or black quilted Nappa leather.
The new Sorento is also available with a panoramic sunroof, which floods the cabin with natural light. An Integrated Memory system is able to memorise the preferred position for the driver’s seat, door mirrors, Head-Up Display and interior light settings for up to two drivers. The driver’s seat features Smart Temperature Comfort Control, which calculates the difference between the external temperature and desired climate control setting, and activates the heated steering wheel and seat, or ventilated seat for maximum cabin comfort. Rear seat passengers are also catered for, with their own air vents and manual air conditioning, rear door curtains to reduce sun glare, and heated seats in the second row. For models with leather or Nappa leather upholstery, the Sorento’s front seats are also heated and ventilated.
Packaging and versatility
The pursuit of practicality: new platform maximises space and versatility
The new Sorento PHEV is one of the most versatile, practical, and spacious plug-in hybrid SUVs on the market. Based on Kia’s new third-generation midsize SUV platform, it provides superior space for people and cargo through more intelligent packaging of its large battery pack, fuel tank, engine, and electric motor within the vehicle’s structure. Kia’s approach has allowed the car to retain maximum space for luggage and up to seven occupants.
The new platform is based around a compact engine bay structure and shorter front and rear overhangs, with a 35 mm longer wheelbase creating greater cabin space between the axles. Not only does this enable the new model’s stylish, more swept-back design; the structure and layout of the new platform means the Sorento is able to accommodate a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the first time.
The electric motor is mounted between the engine and transmission, enabled by the neat packaging of the downsized turbocharged engine beneath the bonnet. The layout allows the Sorento PHEV to operate in all-electric mode, or draw on a blend of electric and combustion engine power – providing power to the front wheels or all four wheels, depending on vehicle specification and road conditions.
The car’s high-capacity 13.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack is located beneath the driver and front passenger seats. The battery pack is sandwiched between the cabin floor and the Sorento’s underfloor. With a standard all-wheel drive configuration, the PHEV’s ‘saddle-shaped’ battery pack lays over the top of the propshaft. This layout means the battery pack doesn’t intrude on the Sorento’s cabin or cargo space in the same way that it might in many other plug-in hybrid models, where the battery often takes up valuable boot space.
The battery pack features an independent water-cooling system for optimal heat management and efficiency. The self-contained cooling system enables the battery pack to regulate its temperature effectively in its confined location.
The Sorento PHEV’s 67-litre fuel tank is located beneath the floor underneath the second row of seats, while the 3.3 kW on-board charger is situated beneath the cargo floor. The location of these components means third-row passengers still enjoy plenty of legroom and a comfortable seating position, while cargo space is still generous.
Clever powertrain packaging means it offers generous space for up to seven passengers. It also offers one of the largest luggage capacities in its class – up to 809 litres for seven-seat models (with the third row of seats folded down) or up to 898 litres for five-seat models.
At the very least, the SUV can easily accommodate five people and a significant amount of luggage. The boot is the right size and shape to fit a pushchair and a couple of suitcases or weekend bags, or up to four large ‘flight’ suitcases. With all seven seats in place, the 175-litre boot can accommodate the accessories needed for a family day out, such as a picnic hamper, outdoors equipment, or a couple of weekend bags.
The 50:50 split-fold third-row seats are easy to fold downwards independently to create a completely flat boot floor by pulling the straps on the seat backs. The 60:40 split-fold second row of seats can also be folded down easily with controls in the side wall of the boot, creating even more space for longer, larger loads, such as sports gear or, for more domestically minded buyers, flat-pack furniture.
The Sorento has always been popular with customers looking for practical third-row seating, and the new model makes life even easier for rear passengers. Aided by the platform’s longer wheelbase, the second-row seats now slide up to 45 mm further, creating a wider point of entry to the third row with more space for feet and legs. There is also a new grab handle built into the interior trim inside the C-pillar, giving third-row passengers something to hold on to as they climb aboard. Once seated, the third-row armrest has also been extended by 100 mm for greater elbow support, while incorporating a cupholder and smartphone tray.
38 g/km CO2, electric range of 57 kilometres – and more power
The Kia Sorento PHEV is simultaneously the most powerful and lowest-emitting model in the new European Sorento line-up thanks to its plug-in powertrain.
It features a powerful 1.6-litre T-GDi (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) engine, which on its own produces 180 ps and 265 Nm of torque. Combined with an electric motor producing 67 kW and 304 Nm of torque, the car delivers a combined 265 ps and 350 Nm of torque. 15% more powerful than the Sorento Hybrid, the new PHEV variant can accelerate from 0-to-100 km/h in 8.7 seconds, and from 80-to-120 km/h in just 5.7 seconds.
Furthermore, the engine features Kia’s latest ‘Smartstream’ innovation, Continuously Variable Valve Duration technology. This regulates the duration that the intake valves open and close depending on driving conditions, enabling different combustion cycles to seamlessly optimise engine performance and efficiency.
The engine and motor are paired with a high-capacity 13.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery. This enables the seven-seat SUV to deliver an equivalent all-electric range (EAER) of up to 57 kilometres (WLTP) from a single charge. In urban environments it is capable of travelling up to 70 kilometres on a single charge (EAER city) before its turbocharged gasoline engine starts up. Drivers are therefore able to complete many journeys, such as their daily commute, on zero-emissions electric power alone.
Its plug-in hybrid powertrain also promises the lowest CO2 emissions ever offered by the Kia Sorento. With emissions of just 38 g/km (WLTP, weighted combined*), the new model is one of the most efficient vehicles in its class.
For longer journeys, the powertrain combines electric and combustion engine power. Drive is sent to all four wheels, depending on road conditions, via a quick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission.
PHEV variants can tow braked trailers of up to 1,500 kg (if the gross vehicle weight doesn’t exceed 4,030 kg for seven-seat models or 3,880 kg for five-seat models). The car is capable of towing unbraked loads of up to 750 kg.
Ride and handling
A more enjoyable, satisfying drive and enhanced all-terrain capability
The first-generation Sorento (2002-2009) was based on a ladder-frame chassis, with the second-generation model (2009-2015) – the first monocoque-based Sorento – marking a step change in the car’s on-road behaviour. The third-generation Sorento honed this formula, giving the driving experience a greater degree of sophistication and refinement. Now, the new platform for the fourth-generation Sorento represents a similar leap forward, engineered to maximise driving stability in all environments.
The car now delivers an even more assured, comfortable ride and more satisfying, enjoyable driving character than its predecessor, aided by heavily revised fully independent suspension. Engineers have sought to reduce the effect that road surface imperfections have on the body, and to reduce noise and vibrations through the suspension, while also improving body control and steering responses under cornering. This has been achieved with a series of geometry changes and new components, as well as improvements to the structure of the suspension system. The 35 mm longer wheelbase also contributes to an overall improvement in cruising comfort, while the new bodyshell – with a 4% average increase to tensile strength throughout its structure – also results in lower body vibrations.
In addition, placing the 13.8 kWh battery low down in the centre of the body, between the two axles, also keeps the centre of gravity low and aids weight distribution. Locating the mass of the battery closer to the centre of the vehicle contributes to the Sorento’s balanced dynamic character, on- and off-road, and enhances handling agility.
New for the fourth generation, and standard on PHEV models, the latest Sorento model offers enhanced all-terrain capability thanks to a new Terrain Mode. Controlled using the Mode Select dial on the centre console, drivers can choose from ‘Mud’, ‘Snow’ and ‘Sand’ modes. The system automatically optimises the drivetrain to best suit each scenario, adjusting engine torque output and distribution, as well as stability control characteristics. Terrain Mode also adjusts shift timings for the six-speed automatic to suit different surfaces.
‘Snow’ mode is ideal for drivers in colder climes, or for families who regularly engage in winter sports. Optimised to maintain forward momentum in icy, low-grip conditions, Snow mode limits torque output from the engine, while apportioning it as equally as possible between all four wheels. The traction control system (TCS) carefully applies low levels of braking force to optimize traction. Meanwhile, the transmission uses shorter shifts, keeping engine speeds down to prevent wheel slip.
‘Mud’ mode provides greater traction, control and momentum for drivers tackling tracks and fields – the perfect solution for rural drivers, or visitors to rain-soaked festival fields. The wheels are driven based on a slightly delayed shift pattern, with torque smoothly applied throughout the AWD system, and stronger braking force from the TCS.
‘Sand’ mode helps drivers confidently traverse sandy tracks, beaches, and even deserts. It helps the vehicle avoid getting stuck by matching higher levels of engine torque output with delayed up-shifts, distributing torque as evenly as possible throughout the AWD system. The TCS also provides higher levels of braking force, enabling the system to distribute more torque to the wheels as required.
The most high-tech Kia ever: new connectivity and infotainment features
The Sorento is the most high-tech Kia car ever made, thanks to a suite of technologies that enhance safety, connectivity and infotainment. The range of available features are designed to make travelling safer and less stressful while providing total ease of use.
Depending on specification, the cabin incorporates Kia’s latest 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, offering audio-visual navigation, and a new 12.3-inch high-resolution digital instrument cluster. Combined, the two twin digital displays deliver information to the driver with absolute clarity.
The new Sorento also offers Kia’s innovative UVO Connect telematics system, connecting drivers by providing invaluable information via the in-car touchscreen and on their smartphone. Featuring Kia Live services and accessible through the optional 10.25-inch LCD widescreen, the system displays live traffic information, weather forecasts, points of interest, and details of potential on- and off-street parking (including price, location and parking availability). UVO Connect also enables drivers to send route directions to their car before a journey and check the location of their vehicle at any time. Exclusive to PHEV models, the UVO Connect system also enables users to locate nearby charging points.
Compatible with both Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™, the infotainment system allows Bluetooth smartphone pairing for two phones concurrently, enabling separate phones to be used for, for instance, phone calls and music, while front passengers can also plug in their mobile devices via two USB chargers. For second-row passengers, two USB charging sockets are integrated into the backs of the two front seats, with a third found at the rear of the front-row centre console. Both third-row passengers also have their own charging points, meaning all seven passengers can keep their mobile device charged – the perfect measure to maintain harmony in a full car during longer journeys.
The Sorento is also available with a head-up display, which projects driving information onto the base of the windscreen in the driver’s line of sight. The system displays alerts from the car’s numerous driver assistance technologies, details of vehicle speed, and turn-by-turn navigation instructions.
Its Smart Power Tailgate makes opening the boot easier with hands full of shopping. The user can activate the tailgate automatically with the car’s smart key held in close proximity. Users can also select the height to which the tailgate opens, from a partial opening to full opening, depending on the environment. For instance, a lower opening setting may be ideal for those with limited garage space, or for allowing children to open and close the tailgate easily.
A powerful 12-speaker BOSE® surround-sound audio system is also available, delivering a more immersive sound to all three rows. A new ‘Sound of Nature’ ambient sound function enables occupants to select from a range of relaxing natural soundscapes. The cabin’s Mood Lighting system lets users tailor the cabin even further, with the interior illuminated in one of seven pre-set ‘core’ colours selected specifically by Kia interior designs, or from a full gamut of 64 colours.
Driver assistance tech and Remote Smart Parking Assist; five-star Euro NCAP rating
The new Kia Sorento line-up – including hybrid, diesel and PHEV models – has achieved the maximum five-star rating from Euro NCAP, Europe’s leading independent safety testing organisation. This is thanks to its high levels of active and passive safety and an enhanced range of driver assistance systems. Kia’s Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) help to reduce many of the inherent hazards and stresses of driving, protecting occupants and other road users on every journey.
Depending on specification, the ADAS range in the new Sorento includes Kia’s latest Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) technology with pedestrian, cyclist and vehicle detection. This also detects oncoming traffic when making a turn at a junction. The Sorento is also available with a Surround View Monitor (SVM) and Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA), Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA), Smart Cruise Control with Stop&Go (SCC) and Navigation-based SCC Curve (NSCC-C), Lane Following Assist (LFA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), and Highway Driving Assist (HDA).
The new model is equipped with Kia’s new Blind-Spot View Monitor (BVM), which acts as a ‘second pair of eyes’ for drivers. It enhances safety for occupants and other road users by eliminating a driver’s left- and right-side blind spots. If the driver indicates to change lane with another vehicle hidden in their blind spot, the system displays a high-resolution video feed on the left or right side of the TFT-LCD instrument cluster. The video feed comes from discreet wide-angle, high-resolution cameras, hidden in each of the door mirror housings. These provide a wider viewing angle than the door mirrors, giving drivers a clear view of any approaching vehicles.
The new Sorento is also available with Lane Following Assist (LFA), a driver assistance technology that operates between 0 and 180 kph. LFA tracks vehicles in front of the Sorento in traffic, and detects road markings to keep the car in its lane on the motorway. In combination with Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go, it can support drivers by accelerating, braking and steering depending on the convoy of vehicles in front, using radar sensors to maintain a safe distance.
The new Sorento also features a Rear View Monitor (RVM) with Reverse Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist (PCA) and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA). In addition, from May 2021 it will also be available in Europe with the company’s new Remote Smart Parking Assist (RSPA) system, which enables drivers to move their car autonomously out of a front-and-back parking space remotely with their key fob. This is designed to make it easier for passengers to get in and out of the car in tight parking spaces, or if another driver parks too close to access any of the doors. RSPA brakes the Sorento automatically if it detects another car, cyclist or pedestrian behind the vehicle or crossing behind it. The Sorento’s Safe Exit Assist feature also prevents rear doors from opening if the vehicle detects a hazard approaching from behind, such as a cyclist or another vehicle.
The Sorento is fitted with up to seven airbags (dual front airbags, dual front seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags with rollover sensor, and front centre airbag). The front centre airbag, a new innovation, provides additional head protection for front-seat occupants and is designed to prevent their heads coming into contact during a collision. All Sorento models are equipped as standard with Kia’s Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) and Electronic Stability Control systems to help drivers maintain control under braking and cornering.
The new Sorento also implements Kia’s first Multi-Collision Brake system, which enables the Sorento to mitigate the severity of secondary collisions. It automatically applies vehicle brakes when the airbags have been deployed after an initial collision, further protecting occupants from secondary frontal or side impacts.
The Sorento’s body is made up of a blend of steel and aluminium, maximising torsional rigidity while keeping weight low. The bodyshell construction features a higher proportion of Advanced High-Strength Steel and hot-stamped steel components than its predecessor. The blend of High-Strength Steel enhances occupant safety, giving it torsional rigidity 12.5% higher than the perceived ‘safety leader’ in the Sorento’s segment – yet the strengthening to the bodyshell construction renders it 5.6% (21.3 kg) lighter than that of its predecessor. Furthermore, the more rigid bodyshell reduces road vibrations in everyday use.
Production and quality
Manufactured in Korea
The new Sorento PHEV is built for Europe and many other markets at Kia’s Hwasung manufacturing facility in Korea. European sales are due to commence in the first quarter of 2021, with Kia’s unique seven-year, 150,000-kilometre warranty as standard.