2020 Kia Sorento SUV: plug-in hybrid revealed
The new Kia Sorento will be available with a 261bhp plug-in hybrid powertrain in 2021
- Plug-in hybrid arrives next year with 261bhp petrol-electric powertrain
- Petrol-hybrid and diesel models already on sale; entry-level ‘2’ trim level starts from £38,245
- Sharp, angular new design sits on an all-new platform
The new Kia Sorento will be available as a 261bhp plug-in hybrid next year. The PHEV will be the third model in the Sorento line-up when it arrives in 2021, following the petrol-hybrid and diesel models that are already on sale.
The latest Sorento gets an array of updates over the old car, including LED headlights and tail-lights, dual-zone air-conditioning, a digital instrument cluster, smartphone connectivity and a reversing camera. All versions come with seven seats as standard.
Prices and full UK specifications for the new Sorento PHEV will be confirmed later this year. The petrol hybrid and diesel models are on sale now, with entry-level ‘2’ cars starting from £38,845.
2020 Kia Sorento plug-in hybrid
The Sorento’s plug-in hybrid powertrain consists of a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor producing a total power output of 261bhp. A six-speed automatic gearbox sends power to all four wheels. Performance figures will be revealed later this year but as the most powerful model in the Sorento line-up, we expect it to be slightly quicker than those already on sale.
The Sorento PHEV uses a 13.8kWh battery that sits beneath the floor of the car. This is slightly larger than the 11.6kWh unit used in the Volvo XC90 Recharge PHEV, and should be capable of up to 30 miles of range when fully charged.
Visually, the plug-in hybrid remains virtually unchanged from the standard car, with the addition of a charging port on the right-side rear quarter panel the only major difference. Inside, the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster has been redesigned with new graphics showing the status of the electric powertrain. Additionally, the 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen gets added functionality to help locate charging points on the move.
Thanks to clever packaging of the battery, Kia claims that the Sorento PHEV suffers a minimal loss of boot space over the conventional models, with the seven-seat version offering 809 litres versus the 821 litres of the standard hybrid. With all seven seats in place, boot space is reduced to 175 litres, a loss of four litres overall.
Petrol hybrid and diesel engines
The Sorento’s hybrid powertrain combines a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine and electric motor producing 226bhp with a six-speed automatic gearbox. Performance is brisk, with 0-60mph taking 8.7 seconds. Claimed fuel economy is 40.9mpg, with CO2 emissions standing at 158-168g/km depending on specification.
The turbocharged 2.2-litre diesel engine, which Kia says is 19.5kg lighter than its predecessor, produces 199bhp and features an eight-speed automatic gearbox. This engine is only available with the mid-range ‘3’ trim level and is capable of up to 42.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 176g/km. It’s slightly slower than the petrol hybrid, managing 0-60mph in 9.1 seconds.
Both models are capable tow cars, with a maximum tow ball capacity of up to 100kg. The hybrid can tow a braked trailer weighing up to 1,650kg, with the diesel capable of hauling up to 2,500kg.
The Sorento can be ordered with four-wheel drive as an option and all models feature a new ‘Terrain Mode’ engineered to ensure the car can cope with light off-roading.
Trim levels and equipment
Entry-level ‘2’ cars come with LED front and rear lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, USB charging ports for all three rows of seats and dual-zone air-conditioning. Technology includes a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, an eight-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a reversing camera. The ‘2’ trim level is only available with the 1.6-litre petrol hybrid powertrain.
The ‘3’ trim adds 19-inch alloy wheels, a 10.25-inch infotainment system, ambient interior lighting and leather upholstery. Buyers can choose the diesel engine in this trim, starting from £41,245, with the petrol hybrid starting from £42,725.
The flagship ‘4’ spec adds Nappa leather upholstery, a head-up display and a premium BOSE stereo system. It’s only available with the petrol hybrid powertrain, and costs from £46,945.
Interior, technology and safety
The inside of the new Sorento features updated technology, including a new eight-inch infotainment screen powered by Kia’s UVO app interface and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, both of which are incorporated into one large trim piece. A larger 10.25-inch infotainment display is standard on higher trim level models. Wireless smartphone charging along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are standard on both infotainment systems.
Elsewhere, the revised interior features vertical chrome air vents and a new circular ‘rotary’ style gear shifter similar to the one seen in the Jaguar F-Pace. Soft-touch leather covers the upper portion of the dashboard and is complemented by the use of quilted leather trim in seat inserts. Leather-trimmed seats will also feature, along with ambient mood lighting in the dashboard and door panels, and dual-zone climate control.
The new Sorento offers various safety features depending on specification, including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with both pedestrian and cyclist detection. Other safety features include blind-spot detection and avoidance, surround view monitoring and intelligent speed limit monitoring. This system also scans for oncoming traffic when you turn out of a junction.
Kia’s smart cruise control also features, along with lane following assist, which can accelerate, brake and steer to keep the car in lane via a series of bodywork mounted cameras and radar sensors.
Design, chassis and practicality
The new Sorento sits on an all-new platform, gaining around 10mm in length. The biggest difference is the car’s wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels), which has increased by 35mm. Legroom is improved in each row, and the rearmost seats benefit from extra headroom. Seven-seat models offer a huge 821 litres of boot space, and it’s likely that any five-seat models will be even more generous.
The car’s design is significantly more angular than the previous model. The front gets a distinctive front grille, which is flanked by narrow LED headlights and LED daytime running lights, and there are new LED rear lights too. Elsewhere, the bodywork has black bodywork cladding together with silver scuff guards on the lower front and rear bumpers.
European-spec cars will be available in a choice of 10 paint colours, with alloy-wheel options ranging from 17 to 20-inches in size.
What does it mean for car buyers?
The growing interest in plug-in hybrid SUVs bodes well for the new Sorento, particularly given that this sector of the market is currently dominated by an array of expensive, upmarket rivals including the Volvo XC90 Recharge, Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid and Range Rover Sport PHEV. There are relatively few alternatives for less than £40,000 – the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, widely considered the first plug-in SUV, is arguably the most well known. Factor in Kia’s seven-year warranty and the new Sorento could prove very popular.
Do you want to know more about the current Kia Sorento? Read our in-depth review for all of the details.