Relaxing with our new Kia Sorento hybrid long-termer

Published: 22 July 2021

► CAR lives with a hybrid Kia Sorento
► Smooth powertrain, balloon tyres
► The perfect car for our intrepid snapper?

Check out my chunky tyres. Look at the length of my loadbay. Marvel at my modes. The Sorento is about being big, comfortable and well equipped. The sort of thing we often think of as being a bit American, although if you were to actually put this car – the biggest Kia sold in Europe – next to the Telluride and Carnival offered in the US it would look very modest.

I'm feeling the benefit of its comfort, size and kit. Together, they make the car fit well with my working life and family life. More bags? Sling them in the back! Need to unwind after a tough assignment? Its insulating ride will soon soak away any stress. Want to catch up on what's been happening? The phone connects readily, and the audio is good.

This is all playing to the Sorento's strengths. I'm well aware that it's not a car that's been designed with dynamic entertainment in mind, so I'm not even trying to get it to provide any back-road thrills. Will that get frustrating? We'll see. But for now, I'm enjoying decent fuel consumption courtesy (at least in part) of the laid-back driving style that the car encourages.

By Alex Tapley

Logbook: Kia Sorento 2 Hybrid

Price £38,845 (£39,505 as tested)
Engine 1598cc four-cylinder plus e-motor, 1.49kWh battery, 226bhp
Performance 8.7sec 0-60mph, 119mph
Efficiency 40.9mpg (official), 33.5mpg (tested), 158g/km CO2
Energy cost 19.7p per mile
Miles this month 931
Total miles 3846

Month 1 living with a Kia Sorento hybrid: hello and welcome

sorento ltt static rear

Here's how unpretentious and no-nonsense the Kia Sorento is: the most over-egged aspect of this big, straightforward seven-seat SUV is that the entry-level version is badged 2, rather than 1. And that's your lot. Everything else about it is in the spirit of Ronseal – it does what it says on the tin – or Barry Scott, the no-BS voice of Cillit Bang cleaning products.

Need a quick refresher on what exactly the Sorento is? Yup, me too. Now in its fourth generation, it's the biggest SUV sold in the UK by Kia. It's roughly the same size as the Skoda Kodiaq, Peugeot 5008 and Nissan X-Trail. It's a seven-seater, with a choice of three engines: this petrol-electric hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and a diesel. They're all four-wheel-drive autos. There are three spec levels: our 2, plus (go on, have a guess...) 3 and 4.

Our model is the cheapest Sorento available. At just shy of £40k, including £660 worth of red paint, it's not a steal, but then it does come well equipped as standard. The things you're missing out on by choosing 2 rather than 3 or 4 include bigger alloys, electric adjustment for the front seats, a bigger infotainment screen and upgraded headlights.

The list of what you do get is long and reassuring, with its mix of safety, connectivity and comfort: tinted windows, air-con for the third row, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a heated steering wheel and much more. There's a rotary drive mode selector that includes three off-road modes: Snow, Mud and Sand. Uphill and downhill traction assistance are included too – not because it's a car aimed at serious off-roading, but because it's designed to look after your family if things take an unexpected turn.

You'll notice I've not mentioned what it's like to drive, even though I've clocked up the best part of 2000 miles in my first month. Let's see how things develop, but first impressions are that it's a car that's not really about driving. It's about all those safety systems, about the seven-year warranty, and about the roominess – which is considerable. It's usually not difficult for me as a photographer and a family man to fill any car to the brim, but the Sorento always has space to spare.

It weighs a fraction over 2000kg, and its 226bhp (aided by the modest 1.49kWh battery under the front seats) is never going to offer rocketship performance. Nor is the chassis set up for haring around bends. It does, however, seem to be very happy to chug along quietly, smoothly and calmly, making light work of heavy loads.

By Alex Tapley

Logbook: Kia Sorento 2 Hybrid

Price £38,845 (£39,505 as tested)
Engine 1598cc four-cyl plus e-motor, 1.49kWh battery, 226bhp
Performance 8.7sec 0-60mph, 119mph
Efficiency 40.9mpg (official), 33.8mpg (tested), 158g/km CO2
Energy cost 16.0p per mile
Miles this month 1793
Total miles 2915