2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid EX FWD
1.6-liter turbocharged four with electric hybrid motor (227 hp, 258 lb-ft combined)
Six-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive
39 city / 35 highway / 37 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
Base Price: $38,165 US
As Tested: $38,820 US
Prices include $1175 destination charge in the United States. Canadian market does not offer the FWD Sorento Hybrid.
As I and others on these virtual pages have noted time and again, electric vehicles are Not Quite Ready For Primetime in much of the country for most people. We don’t have a charging infrastructure ready to support the types of driving most do on a regular basis, nor do we have the collective will to change our driving habits to suit an all-electric lifestyle.
And yet gasoline prices continue to climb. I spotted regular unleaded at $4.99 per gallon this weekend – if that number seems quaintly laughable by the time this hits the presses, my apologies. I’m taking a hard look at the driving my family needs to do, and strongly reconsidering what best fits my driveway and my budget.
Some sort of electrification is coming sooner rather than later to each of us if we aren’t there already. Two-plus decades of hybrids have proven the reliabilities of the technologies involved. A roomy family-sized vehicle, much like this 2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid, should take the sting out of what had once been a realm reserved for Spartan subcompacts.
Notably, my test crossover eschews a feature not often found on most family sedans – all-wheel drive. Depending on the trim, driving all four wheels on the Sorento Hybrid will cost an additional $2,000 to $2,500 above the Monroney for the front-drive version. All-wheel drive will cost another two miles per gallon in fuel economy – front-drive yields a 37 mpg combined estimate (roughly accurate in my testing) while all-wheel drive drops to 35 mpg. Still solid economy figures, but not everyone needs the additional drive wheels. In central Ohio, I know that I could live without AWD save for that one massive storm we get every 3-5 years. In New England, maybe not – and our friends and corporate overlords in Canada don’t have the opportunity to buy a front-drive Sorento Hybrid. Up there, it’s AWD or nothing.
Driving the Sorento Hybrid isn’t exhilarating. The 227 horsepower combined from the 1.6-liter four and the electric motor is enough to get up to freeway speeds from a dig reasonably well, and the six-speed automatic with real gears does nicely when needing to make a pass – something with which a CVT in many other hybrids can struggle. Ride quality is unremarkable – a fair bit of road noise can come through, but sharp impacts are well muted and controlled.
Of the seven distinct crossover/SUV/minivan-that-cosplays-as-a-crossover vehicles in the current Kia lineup, three of them (this Sorento, the larger Telluride, and the Carnival minivan) have standard three-row configurations. While the Telluride is tolerable for adults in that third row – and the Carnival is clearly the best due to the low floor – the Sorento is not quite workable for anyone older past fifth grade. If you’re carpooling, this will work for peewee football, not high school.
That cargo hold when the third row is erected for passengers isn’t going to handle much more than water bottles for the team – those kids won’t have room for their pads or helmets. Kia quotes 12.6 cubic feet with that third row upright – it’s a shallow space that will manage but a couple of backpacks. I can see that third row being useful perhaps for a road trip with an infant – lower one of the second-row chairs, strap junior into the other second-row seat, and have a caregiver or two in the third row ready to attend to the spit-ups and bottle tosses.
No, I rather doubt most people shopping the Sorento will choose it specifically for the third row of seating – rather, it’s best considered as an emergency backup plan rather than a full-time large-brood carrying solution. With that back row stowed, the cargo area can manage 45 cubic feet of stuff, making the Sorento Hybrid a perfectly capable family hauler for four or five. Seat comfort both front and rear is excellent, with good leg and headroom and plenty of shoulder space between.
For those cross-shopping, the Sorento slots in dimensionally an interesting tweener size – for those shopping the Big Two Japanese marques, right between the CR-V/RAV4 and the Highlander/Pilot classes. The Sorento Hybrid gives a bit more interior room than the smaller vehicles for nearly the same sticker prices – a caveat, of course, comes with our new reality of limited availabilities and additional dealer markups.
Even with the pricey fuel we’re seeing now, a seventeen-gallon fill-up will be cheaper than four airline tickets to get the family on vacation over the summer. No cramped seats, no crying babies, no Mike Tyson about to punch you for being obnoxious. I’m not trying to damn the 2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid by simply saying it’s better than flying – because these days walking might be better than flying – but it can be a solid solution for many families, and it’d be a welcome addition to my driveway.
[Images: © 2022 Chris Tonn]
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