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03 Jun 2022

What We Dislike
Not the most engaging drive

With high-tech assist systems and a hybrid powertrain, the Sorento Hybrid is an SUV that offers everything - including a stress-free drive.


I prefer driving cars that are low-slung, lightweight, nimble and agile. A towering SUV would be at the bottom of my list of cars to go for. Just ask anyone who knows me and they'll corroborate. That is why I wasn't particularly excited when my editor told me I'll be getting to drive the new Kia Sorento Hybrid for four days.

The larger the car, the more difficult it will be to manoeuvre. The added weight will also mean more strain on the engine, resulting in lethargic acceleration and higher fuel consumption. That is the assumption, which applies to most large SUVs at least. With its hybrid powertrain, is the Sorento any different? Let's see...

Hmm, this looks familiar

The bold and striking design of the Sorento is accentuated by the unique vertical taillights
Design wise, it looks exactly the same as the Sorento Diesel that was reviewed not too long ago. In fact, the only difference lies in the engine. But this isn't a bad thing at all as the Kia Sorento is a car that commands attention with its huge size and good looks.

With its distinct lines and angular accents throughout its bodywork, the Sorento is the image of a bold and strong SUV. And the best part is it manages to toe the line to achieve a sweet balance of style, elegance and presence - the angular front end flows into a slightly sloping tail, while plastic claddings are sleek and minimal, evoking just the right amount of sportiness.

Up front, the pair of angular LED head lights serves to enhance the striking demeanour, and lights up the road in front perfectly. But what really gives the Sorento its unique character has got to be those vertical taillights.

Stylish, well-built and feature-packed inside

Inside, you'll get a classy cabin, which includes unique touches such as the split air-con vents
Hop into the Sorento and you'll find equally unique touches, such as the split air-con vents, which is a nifty idea to allow cool air to be directed to as much area as possible.

There is however a feature that isn't as unique - the rotary gear selector that have been chewed on by reviewers and users back when they were found on Jaguar and Land Rover cars. Still, I am perfectly fine with it as it's rather intuitive and simple to use.

The rest of the interior is classy and well-designed, with plenty of satin-finished trim pieces and semi-chrome garnishes throughout. A 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support sits at the centre of the dash, along with physical buttons for quick and easy access to often-used functions.

Physical buttons, both touch and toggle switches, allow easy access to the climate control
There are also plenty of USB ports found throughout the car - such as within the center console, on the side of the front seats and below the rear air-con vents.

Meanwhile physical toggle switches are also implemented for the temperature and ventilated seats adjustments. Clearly the designers at Kia understand the importance of intuitive controls.

A car that almost drives itself

And intuitive is how I would describe driving the Sorento Hybrid with its complete suite of driver assist systems as standard (the Sorento Hybrid is only available in the SX Tech trim). While a car of such a size would normally be daunting to drive, the technology implemented has brought the difficulty down.

The 360 Surround View Monitor comes in handy when navigating through tight spaces
The 360 Surround View Monitor, which is more commonly found in luxury cars, is a handy tool when navigating tight spaces and while parking this behemoth. Similarly, the Blind-Spot View Monitor which uses cameras helps to make driving on the roads stress-free and enjoyable.

Perhaps, the most intriguing feature would be the Smart Cruise Control and Lane Following Assist, which work together to offer a level 2 autonomous driving system.

With them, the Sorento is able to maintain a set speed, ensure a safe distance from the car in front, and monitor road markings to keep the car within the centre of the lane, even through bends.

With a level 2 autonomous driving system, the Sorento Hybrid can almost drive itself
This preview of a fully autonomous future is especially useful for long drives on the expressways, where road markings are clear and uninterrupted. As the Sorento uses a combination of camera and radar sensors, there isn't any disruption even when there's a sudden change of environmental lighting (such as when exiting a tunnel), unlike systems which only use cameras.

Couple these features with all the other typical driver assist systems that you can think of, and this large SUV cannot be any easier to drive.

High level of refinement makes it a peach to drive and be in

Despite its heft, the Sorento Hybrid accelerates swiftly thanks to the hybrid powertrain which puts out a combined 228bhp and 350Nm of torque
The powertrain of the Sorento hybrid is where you'll find yet another technological marvel. Thanks to its hybrid system, the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine is able to bring the sub 1.8-tonne SUV from a standstill to 100km/h in just 8.8 seconds.

In actual driving, this translates to sprightly acceleration off the line, and impressive fuel economy - a mix of city and expressway driving works out to more than 14km/L with relative ease.

An advanced hybrid system with a motor that puts out 79bhp means that you can drive off from a standstill solely on electric power, and up till speeds above 60km/h.

With its excellent insulation and refined ride, the Sorento Hybrid is what you'll want to commute in
Transition between electric and the engine is also smooth and near unnoticeable. Best of all, you can safely 'idle' and enjoy the air-con without even starting the engine.

Excellent insulation keeps all the external noise where they should be, and a rather soft suspension setup offers a comfortable ride at the expense of some sportiness.

Which really isn't surprising as it is pretty obvious that sportiness isn't the priority with this car - you won't even find an option for a tachometer.

But the lack of an engaging and sporty drive shouldn't affect your perception of the Sorento Hybrid when shopping for an SUV. After all, the Kia Sorento Hybrid offers all that is important to the typical SUV buyer - impressive looks, space, versatility, practicality, comfort and plenty of features. Oh, and it really sips on fuel.


In the market for a hybrid SUV? Check out these other options available:

 
Nissan Qashqai: Quiet and comfortable
 
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: Efficient and comfortable
 
The BMW X3: An improved all-rounder
 
The NX450h+ brings big capability at a big cost
Car Information
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Kia Sorento Hybrid 1.6 SX Tech 7-Seater (A)
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Price

: $234,999

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1598cc

Horsepower

:

170kW (228 bhp)

Torque

:

350 Nm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

8.8sec

Top Speed

:

-

Fuel consumption

:

18.5km/L

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