2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid
Compared to some automakers, Kia has always offered an SUV to its customers. From the first Sportage models in the 1990s to today’s award-winning Telluride, Kia is happy to offer an SUV for every kind of customer.
The second-longest SUV nameplate was just remade for 2021 – the Sorento. This mid-size model fills the gap between the Sportage and the Telluride, yet it still offers the availability of a third row of seating. Now in its fourth generation, it is a good formula that just got better.
How much better? Let’s take a look…
From the start, it looks much better. The latest Kia design language envelops the Sorento into a sharp looking and aspirational SUV. The front end is compelling, with its three-dimensional shape, multiple LED bulb headlamps with driving lamps, and aggressive lower fascia.
Flowing from there is a handsome silhouette with great details, such as the satin chrome trim on the front fenders and the c-pillar. Out back, there are a pair of twin vertical lamps finishing off the overall look of the Sorento.
Our tester was the Hybrid EX, which came with 17-inch aerodynamic wheels some upgraded trim. In all, the Sorento is a handsome package that is worth looking at every time you approach it.
The interior design starts with a very modern dashboard with some retro-ish vents, probably from the 1960s. It is details such as this, which makes the cabin of the Sorento rather cool. The instrumentation on our Hybrid EX mixes two analog dials with a digital information screen and gauges. Buttons and controls are easy to use with superb logic from the steering wheel across the instrument panel onto the center console. An eight-inch infotainment screen sits on top of the center stack with wireless charging and smartphone integration.
The only thing that will throw drivers for a loop is the transmission knob, which replaces a shifter seen on non-hybrid Sorento models. Other than that, the cabin is easy to use for everyone.
The Sorento Hybrid comes with three rows of seating standard. Our tester came with second-row captain’s chairs with an open space between the two outboard seats. Front seat comfort is fine with some support. The second row seats offer equal comfort and support and can be adjusted for rake and recline. Access to the third row is through a button on top of the second row seatbacks that tilt and slide. The third row is mainly to fit small children, with available child seat anchors.
The rear cargo space starts with 12.6 cubic feet behind the third row, expandable to 75.5 cubic feet with the second- and third-row seats folded down. We found that if we have to haul two large pieces of luggage that we had to fold down the third row to fit them in, along with carry-on pieces.
The Sorento’s Hybrid driveline consist of a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an electric motor connected to a six-speed automatic transmission. Currently, all Sorento Hybrids are front-wheel-drive. All-wheel-drive hybrid models will be available in the 2022 model year. This system combined puts out 227 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.
For a vehicle that weighs around 3,900 pounds, the hybrid driveline does a good job in managing traffic on the highway and in the city. Acceleration never felt hesitant, and cruising is very controlled. For fuel economy, we observed an average of 39.9 MPG.
Kia also did a good job on engineering a quality ride from this Sorento Hybrid. The taller tires provided us a smoother ride that manages rougher patches without transmitting them into the cabin. However, we felt that the handling package was on the soft side. While there is some lean and roll in the corners and under evasive maneuvers, it is well managed.
On-center feel for the steering system is good with a solid turning radius overall. However, we felt that the brake pedal was a bit on the soft side. There was some minute hesitation at normal stops, but it also exhibited solid panic and wet surface braking performance.
The 2021 Kia Sorento lineup starts from $29,390 for an LX model with a 2.5-liter gasoline engine and front-wheel-drive. The lineup includes three power sources, including the Hybrid, and a total of seven trim levels combined. Our Hybrid EX tester came with a sticker price of $38,205. Hybrid models start from $33,590.
Being a three-row SUV slotted between popular compact and mid-sized models, the Sorento offers the best of both worlds. So do its competitors, which include the new 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander and Volkswagen Tiguan. However, our Hybrid is not a unique offering in its size class. Other hybrids that compare with the Kia include the Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Explorer, and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
Whether you choose the Hybrid or any of the non-electrified versions, the Kia Sorento is a solid choice for family transportation. If one fits your needs, you may have chosen the right SUV for you.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors