2023 Kia Sorento Hybrid SX Prestige AWD Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Hybrid, Kia, SUV, Test Drives

Hybrid vehicles have become popularized in the past few years once again as we see higher gas prices and the state of our economy in America comes to a crossroads. Additionally, with the looming presence of electric vehicles (EVs), hybrids seem to be a natural gateway until EVs find a stronger foothold on this side of the pond. With such notoriety in many new hybrid vehicles, it’s no wonder that Kia continues with the Sorento hybrid, gaining praise from many for all that it offers in an affordable three-row crossover package.

The latest Kia Sorento Hybrid, furthering the new character of the Sorento from its 2021 redesign, remains mostly unchanged in the past couple of years. However, getting the loaded Sorento Hybrid SX Premium trim tends to inject a little more praise for the vehicle as it offers many premium and near-luxury aspects, in addition to offering an all-wheel-drive setup for the hybrid crossover.

Powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor, power is sent through a 6-speed automatic transmission directed to all four wheels. That power amounts to a total system output of 227 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. When you put the Sorento Hybrid AWD to the task, it can reach 60 mph in about 7.8 seconds.

Most of the performance of the Sorento Hybrid is on the soft side of things and often delayed upon instances that you immediately demand full throttle. Such a hiccup was observed many times in my review of the Sorento Hybrid FWD a couple of years ago, and that slight disappointment seems to remain and becomes an unsettling feeling when you need to jump out into traffic. Otherwise, the hybrid system of the Sorento Hybrid AWD is up to being a mostly seamless experience with smooth power transitions to and from the use of the electric motor to the gas engine, which you often don’t notice.

Having the all-wheel drive system paired with the Sorento Hybrid’s engine and motor makes for a better footing of the vehicle, where front-wheel spin is mostly gone when you come out of a turn at or near full throttle. Kia was wise to offer all-wheel drive for the Sorento Hybrid, which is something I asked for in my previous review when the latest Sorento Hybrid was introduced. In the ultra-competitive world of SUVs/crossovers in America, it’s always smart to have all-wheel drive, even if some drivers hardly ever require that assured footing of a rather large-for-its-class crossover.

Being a hybrid must mean that the Sorento saves on fuel. Well, yes, it does, in a big way, in fact. The Sorento Hybrid AWD matches its EPA estimates in the real world of 36 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, and 34 mpg combined. I was able to walk away with 34.4 mpg overall after mixed city and highway driving during my week with the efficient crossover. The MPG figures were mostly consistent, with the only deviation being in heavy traffic where you could easily best EPA estimates to get 40 mpg or better at times when you consciously drive, paying attention to the power monitor and hybrid information in the digital gauge cluster. Moreover, you have an exceptional range of just over 630 miles from a full tank of regular unleaded gas if you meet the EPA mpg numbers.

Having virtually “grown up” over the many years of having the Sorento nameplate, Kia offers up a rather large and inviting space for the new Sorento’s interior, especially when it’s adorned with unique colors for the blue perforated leather seats (part of an optional Navy interior color package – $295), soft-touch dashboard, and door trim in my test vehicle. Kia has done well to offer up eye-pleasing colors and accents throughout the interiors of top-level trims. The Sorento Hybrid in the SX-Prestige AWD trim doesn’t disappoint as you also get power-heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row captain’s chairs, a Bose premium audio system, digital gauge cluster, blind-spot camera (displays a live image of the blind-spot when signaling), rain-sensing wipers, and a surround-view camera to top off the added safety features to a full array of the typical active safety features.

The cabin is large and accommodating and has decent cargo room behind the third row, accessed by a smart proximity power tailgate. Even though the third-row seats manually fold flat, the second row can fold at the press of a button, but you will have to unfold them manually. The seating positions are optimal, and it doesn’t take long to find a good position for the driver where you can save your settings via the memory seat feature.

The 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system brings the same expected user-friendliness to the table that many have grown to appreciate in new Kia and Hyundai vehicles. The integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto remains to be USB-connected only, which is strange because there is a smartphone wireless charging pad and many competitors offer wireless integration. You may still connect via Bluetooth for accessing your phone wirelessly without using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Kia continues to impress on the front of affordable vehicles that offer a lot of content as standard. Continuing to keep the lineup fresh and offer consumers exactly what they ask for will keep vehicles like the new Sorento Hybrid cross-shopped among a wide variety of crossovers on the market, both small and large.

My loaded-up, top-trim Sorento Hybrid SX-Prestige AWD test vehicle comes to a price of $45,940, granted the new Sorento Hybrid in the base EX trim starts at $36,690 before any fees or options.


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