2022 KIA Sorento Hybrid 1.6 T SX Tech : Ai (Hybrid) KIA mai?
Singapore - When KIA introduced the current Sorento back in 2020, it was immediately clear that the fourth-generation people-carrying SUV was miles better than the one it replaced. Back then, it came to our shores with just one powertrain option, a torque-abundant turbocharged diesel, which I truly enjoyed. To complete the Sorento range, KIA Singapore has brought in a petrol-hybrid variant; great for those who do not like the sound of diesel engine clatter.
There are no visual differences between the diesel and the hybrid, apart from the Hybrid sporting smaller 17-inch wheels with old school-ish taller sidewall. But small rollies aside, the Sorento Hybrid is an attractive offering, with purposeful lines, with an equally purposeful front-end.
KIA Sorento Hybrid - inside
The stacked front air-conditioning vents are a clever touch too, allowing you to have more flexibility in adjusting your airflow.
There is one major design change to the Hybrid’s interior. The mechanical gearshift lever has made way for a rotary shift knob. Visually, this neatens things up, and provides easier access to the charging pad.
Tech goodies aside, the Sorento is still intended to be a family workhorse. So when it is time to move those seats about, it comes complete with pull tabs to help easily deploy those folded-down rear seats, and a push-button, spring-loaded middle row for easier access to the back.
The Sorento is actually closer to being a 5+2 seater, rather than a full 7-seater. But I must say that space at the third row is way better than what the 5+2 variant of the Honda CRV can offer. Frankly, I can tell you from my personal experience that what third row space the CRV brings to the table is pointless and uninhabitable. Back in the KIA Sorento, a tween could sit in relative comfort for the average Singapore journey. Rear passengers also get their very own air-conditioning vents, and their very own fan speed control; which means that cooling the car on a scorchingly-hot day with a full load, would be less of an issue.
With the third row of seats stowed away, the Sorento boasts a generous 608 litres (eight less than the Diesel) of cargo room. Drop the middle row with a push of a pair of buttons in the boot, and hauling capacity goes up to 1996 litres. There is one downside which plagues both the Sorento Hybrid and its sister car, the Hyundai Santa-Fe Hybrid; there is no “official” place for the cargo cover, when you maximise your boot. Part of this has been taken over by a battery, so the cover has found an official place at the edge of the boot floor instead - but really not a deal-breaker.
KIA Sorento Hybrid - the drive
The drive here is quite different from the diesel. The electric motor provides instantaneous torque when you take off from the lights. Aside from a faint whine, you travel your first metres in silence. The 1.6-litre Smartstream G engine which on its own produces 178hp and 265Nm, kicks in with minimal vibration, while taking on some of the drive duties. Overall, the powertrain’s operation is rather smooth, though the engine does get vocal if you were to build up on revs. The electric motor which produces 59hp and 264Nm, ups the Sorento’s system delivery to 227hp and 350Nm. Contributing to the Sorento’s smoothness, the electric drive also cancels any lag the turbocharged 1.6 would inherently produce. The electrification also significantly reduces start/stop fuel burn.
On paper, the Sorento Hybrid’s fuel economy is better than the diesel, with an official combined figure of 5.4L/100km (18.5km/l). For reference, the diesel’s combined figures would be 5.7L/100km (17.5km/l). Back here in the Hybrid, I managed a flat 5L/100km (20km/l).
Adding value and more safety to the driving experience, the Sorento Hybrid is equipped with a clever list of driver warning and active aids. It also has a radar, a camera and sensors up-front, which make up the working bones of its Smart Cruise Control (which includes Lane Following Assist).
My absolute favourite feature on the KIA SUV is the Blind-Spot View Monitor (BVM), which uses side-mounted side cameras to display the car’s blind area on the instrument cluster; really nifty, and I would say that it is better than the stingy one-sided deal you get on… again, the Honda CRV.
Overall, the Sorento Hybrid delivers the goods in a relaxed (not lazy) manner. Sure, it is as-expected an unexciting drive, like most 7-seat SUVs in its class would be… well maybe with the exception of the Skoda Kodiaq RS, we recently had a trip up-north with.
With the diesel version of the Sorento, it is a well-equipped piece of family-friendly transport. With the hybrid powertrain, it takes economy and smoothness to another level.
PHOTOS Clifford Chow
2022 KIA Sorento Hybrid 1.6 T SX Tech
Engine: 1598cc, inline4, turbocharged hybrid
Transmission: 6spd auto
Top speed: 187km/h
Fuel consumption: 5.5l/100km