The 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid Makes the Toyota Highlander Nervous

The battle between Kia and Toyota is starting to heat up! The 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid is finally here to take on the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Both serve as excellent SUV options, but the Kia Sorento could have a few enticing features to rival the Toyota Highlander. 

The 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid vs. the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid 

The red 2021 Kia Sorento HEV Hybrid parked in the middle of a forest
The 2021 Kia Sorento HEV Hybrid | Kia

The 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid emerged as a totally redesigned three-row SUV that includes an enhanced fuel economy. Its closest rival is the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, which also serves as an excellent three-row option for families. 

You can get started in a new Kia Sorento Hybrid for about $33,590. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid begins at about $38,735. So, the Sorento has a lower starting price, but the Highlander may include enough extra goodies to be worth paying about $5,000 more for. 

How do the Sorento and Highlander perform? 

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With the 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid, you get a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, a 44-kilowatt electric motor, and a 1.5-kWh battery for 227 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. According to Cars.com, it can tow up to 2,000 lbs. 

The 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that’s paired with two electric motors for a combined output of 243 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. But it can tow up to 3,500 lbs.

With the Sorento Hybrid, you can get an EPA-estimated 39 mpg in the city and up to 35 mpg on the highway. The Highlander Hybrid provides an EPA-estimated 36 mpg in the city and up to 35 mpg on the highway. 

One drawback to consider is the fact that the Kia Sorento Hybrid isn’t offered in all-wheel drive. The Highlander Hybrid does come with AWD, making it heavier. This may explain why it has a slightly lower fuel economy. 

Both of these options provide a fairly smooth ride and are fast off the line. They don’t have grabby brakes and do make the occasional hybrid engine whirs. The Sorento could have a quieter cabin, and the Highlander could have sportier handling. 

Does the Sorento or Highlander have better features? 

A red 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, KBB reports the Highlander Hybrid is one of the best affordable hybrid SUVs
2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid | Toyota

The 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid only comes with captain’s chairs in the second row. This feature is optional in the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. While captain’s chairs can be preferred by families, this may limit utility. 

In the Sorento Hybrid, you’ll find 12.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row with up to 75.5 cubic feet total. The Highlander Hybrid is slightly larger, with 16 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row and 84.3 cubic feet total. 

An 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system comes standard in the Highlander, but you can upgrade to the 12.3-inch screen. The Sorento comes with an 8.0-inch screen, too, with an optional 10.25-inch screen. Both come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

Both vehicles come with standard safety features such as forward collision prevention and lane departure warning. The Sorento Hybrid is a Top Safety Pick, while the Highlander Hybrid is a safety pick+. 

The Kia Sorento Hybrid serves as a three-row option with a lower price and slightly better fuel economy. But the Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a little more muscle, optional AWD, and is a slightly safer option.