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2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid review: Strengthened value

The definition of value has changed when it comes to vehicles. Once associated exclusively with low costs, that’s no longer the case because the overall quality is now just as important as the amount of content you get. Kia is one of the driving forces in that transition because the Korean brand has mastered giving you a package that punches above its weight while keeping its vehicles accessible to the average consumer. Case and point the 2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid. It’s only offered in two midlevel trims but the substance you get is more than what you expect for a vehicle starting under $40,000.

2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid exterior

2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid rear three quarters 04
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

There aren’t many styling differences to distinguish the 2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid from internal combustion variants. You still get the same boxy greenhouse, Kia’s new “tiger face” corporate look, and the vertical taillights. The result is a design that’s more akin to the K5 sedan than the larger Telluride, which isn’t a bad thing. One neat design feature is the shark fin-like trim on the C-pillar, which also appears on the Carnival minivan. The only hint at the Sorento Hybrid’s electrified heart is the Eco Hybrid badge on the tailgate. While 17-inch wheels are standard, you can get 19-inch ones in the EX grade when you opt for AWD.

2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid interior

2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid front seats 01
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

Currently, the Sorento Hybrid is one of three electrified mid-size crossovers with three rows of seating. However, it’s limited to six because of the standard second-row captain’s chairs. It’s best to view this vehicle as a 4+2 because the third row is only good for short trips. Adults can fit back there but their knees will be at an odd angle due to the cushion being so low. Those in the first two rows will be the most comfortable thanks to cushy seats with plenty of support. The captain’s chairs also offer generous levels of recline and slides forward and back pretty far.

Kia put a lot of thoughtful storage solutions throughout the cabin. There are big smartphone cubbies in the third row next to USB charging ports, double map pockets plus a USB charging port behind each front seat, and netting for small items on the side of each captain’s chair. The storage area under the climate controls can hold a large smartphone with a cord attached to it and it even has a ventilated wireless charger. With all seats up, the Sorento Hybrid doesn’t have much cargo space, which is why it’s best to keep the third row folded. Once you do that, it suddenly becomes super practical thanks to the flat load floor and second-row seats that you can conveniently fold from the back.

The value play starts to come out once you take note of the materials used. Everything is consistent with lots of soft and padded surfaces across the three rows. Buttons and knobs all operate with a satisfying level of tactility and certain controls even have cool embellishments like the knurled finish on the rotary gear selector. The cabin is nice and quiet too. Thanks to generous sound deadening, there isn’t much road, tire, and wind noise even at highway speeds.

2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid tech features

2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid dash 02
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

For 2022, every Sorento Hybrid gets the 10.25-inch touch screen with built-in navigation as standard equipment. It’s responsive and is structured to keep submenus at a minimum, meaning most functions are only one to two taps away. If you need an ASMR moment in the car (while parked obviously), it has the Sounds of Nature feature to create a nice, calming ambience. Unfortunately, the standard audio system is merely adequate at best. Since the Sorento Hybrid isn’t available in upper trims, you can’t get the 12-speaker Bose surround sound system.

Kia strengthens the Sorento Hybrid’s value proposition even further by making its full DriveWise active safety suite standard. The EX trim takes it one step farther by adding the Highway Driving Assist semi-autonomous system to its arsenal. In operation, every component works well and is gentle with its corrections when you drift out of your lane. With adaptive cruise control or Highway Driving Assist active, the system will help you complete gentle turns on the highway and will even use the built-in navigation system to detect them and slow down ahead of time so you can go through safely at the right speed. The distancing component proactively keeps your set distance, seamlessly follows traffic flow, and will even apply the brakes if someone cuts you off.

The Sorento Hybrid’s driver assistance technologies go beyond preventing you from backing into and running over something or someone. It also ensures that the driver is paying attention and will beep at you. When the vehicle ahead moves, you’ll get a reminder on the 4.2-inch gauge cluster display that whoever you’re following is driving away. The system keeps an eye out for passing vehicles that are coming too fast. It’ll lock the doors and prevent anyone from exiting on whichever doors are facing the road. On the move, it’ll keep you from switching lanes if a car is coming too fast, and will help you evade it.

2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid driving impressions

The Sorento Hybrid’s powertrain aims to give you the best of both worlds. It couples a 1.6-liter turbo-four to an electric motor, a 1.5-kWh lithium-ion battery, and a six-speed automatic transmission. Combined, you have 227 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque under your right foot. Thanks to the engine’s low- to midrange torque and the electric motor’s instant response, you get lots of usable power for passing, merging, and climbing up hills. The transmission is quick and willingly downshifts when you ask it to. Although the gearing is tall, it manages to avoid hunting for cogs and isn’t overly eager to go to higher ratios.

Since the Sorento Hybrid uses a parallel setup, you can feel shifts when the vehicle is operating in all-electric mode. The car loves to coast at highway speeds, especially on flat ground and downhill slopes. When you’re cruising at a steady state, the crossover relies on the electric motor extensively and uses the gas engine only when you need more power. This allows you to get the most out of the powertrain and drive efficiently without going below the speed limit.

As with most electrified Hyundai and Kia models, the Sorento Hybrid’s brake pedal operation is natural. You don’t notice where the handoff from regenerative to mechanical braking happens because of how linear stopping power is delivered. Although you don’t get one-pedal driving, the Sorento Hybrid recuperates a lot of energy, allowing you to recharge the battery quickly when slowing down. This also enables you to get down to city speeds without touching the brake pedal. When exiting the highway or taking gentle turns at higher speeds, you get a significant reduction of momentum as you lift off the accelerator and begin recapturing energy for the battery.

Comfort remains one of the Sorento Hybrid’s strong suits. The crossover does a great job absorbing harsh impacts and road imperfections on poorly maintained surfaces. Further keeping things cushy are the 17-inch alloy wheels shod in tires with generous sidewalls for additional isolation. Kia also did a good job ensuring the Sorento Hybrid stays confident on the road. Body roll is nicely controlled, preventing it from wobbling all over the place. Accurate steering helps make the Sorento Hybrid easy to drive and maneuver in urban areas. Among mid-size utility vehicles, this is one of the better handling entries. Should you find yourself on a winding road, you’ll be able to take turns with poise thanks to the Sorento’s sure-footedness and stability.

2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid pricing

The 2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid starts at $35,305 for the base S model. Our EX test car costs $37,820. You can add AWD for an extra $1,800 on the S grade or $2,300 for the EX trim since it also adds 19-inch alloy wheels on the latter. You can also add a panoramic sunroof for $1,300 but only on the more expensive EX variant. Load a Sorento Hybrid to the brim and it barely crosses the $41,000 mark even when you opt for one of the two extra-cost exterior colors.

2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid final verdict

2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid front three quarters 04
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

Kia continues to prove that it’s the one to beat when it comes to the value proposition. The goal remains the same but the formula has changed because it’s no longer about the price. Factors like quality, road manners, efficiency, and packaging are equally important as proven by the 2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid. This crossover may be limited to two trims but the content and substance go beyond expectations even before you bring its affordable pricing into the equation. Once again, Kia delivers a vehicle that punches above its weight and gives you so much, proving that real value lies in the execution of the product, not its price tag.

At a glance

  • Year: 2022
  • Make: Kia
  • Model: Sorento Hybrid
  • Trim: EX
  • Type: 4-door mid-size crossover
  • Combined horsepower: 227
  • Torque: 258 lb-ft
  • MPG ratings (city/highway/combined): 39/35/37
  • Pros: Efficient yet strong powertrain, great tech features, comfortable ride
  • Cons: Not available in higher trims, small third row, minimal cargo space with all seats up
  • Base price: $35,305
  • Price as tested: $37,820
Written by Stefan Ogbac
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