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Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) fall into an often-overlooked automotive segment. It’s a shame because they’re excellent transitional vehicles for drivers who can’t make the switch to fully electric just yet. PHEVs generally have 20 to 30 miles of electric-only range, perfect for the average work commute. Many automakers sell PHEVs, but which brand makes the best? Kia has proven itself a worthy contender with plug-in versions of the Sorento and Sportage. Both are excellent choices, but here are three areas where the 2023 Kia Sorento PHEV beats the Kia Sportage PHEV.

1. The 2023 Kia Sorento PHEV has a bigger fuel tank capacity

2023 Kia Sorento PHEV vs 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV
2023 Kia Sorento PHEV | Kia

The Kia Sportage PHEV’s fuel tank capacity is 11.1 gallons. However, Edmunds shows the 2023 Kia Sorento PHEV’s tank can hold 1.3 more gallons. Kia says that gives the Sorento PHEV 460 miles of total driving range, while the Sportage PHEV has 30 miles less.

To its credit, the Sportage also has two extra miles of electric range. This compact SUV packs a turbo-four engine with an electric motor, producing 261 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. They pair with a six-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive.

According to Kia, the Sportage’s six-speed gearbox comes pre-programmed with downhill brake control and different drive modes. The automaker says the Sorento PHEV shares the same powertrain specs.

It takes two hours to recharge the Kia Sportage PHEV with a Level 2 charger. The Kia Sorento PHEV takes slightly longer to charge, at 3 hours and 30 minutes.

2. The Sorento has a higher payload capacity than the Sportage

The Kia Sportage PHEV can safely handle 1,124 pounds of combined weight from passengers and cargo. However, the midsize Kia Sorento PHEV can carry 1,416 pounds more. The Sorento can also tow up to 2,000 pounds.

In addition, the Sorento PHEV also has one seat more than the Sportage, so it can accommodate six riders instead of five. The sole Kia Sorento PHEV trim has perforated gray leather seats and offers an exclusive navy option for $295 extra. Ventilation for the front seats is standard. 

The two back rows have two captain’s chairs each, so accessing the third row is a breeze. Still, because it doesn’t offer even 30 inches of legroom, the third row might be too cramped for most adults. 

The Sorento’s second row is much more spacious, with over 40 inches of legroom, according to Edmunds. In comparison, the Kia Sportage PHEV gives its second-row passengers 39.5 inches of legroom. Both trims Sportage PHEV trims have synthetic leather seats with heating.

Kia says the Sorento PHEV also boasts abundant advanced driver safety tech. You can adjust the Smart Cruise Control system for curved roads and construction zones. The automatic emergency braking system is optimized to detect other cars to the left while turning at intersections. 

The Kia Sportage PHEV has many of the same driver assists without enhancements. Oddly, it also has a slightly larger center touchscreen than the Sorento.

3. The 2023 Kia Sorento PHEV has more cargo space

If you fold down the third row of seats, the 2023 Kia Sorento PHEV offers up to 45 cubic feet of cargo space. With every seat flat against the floor, you have over 75 cubic feet of storage space.

The Kia Sportage PHEV’s maximum cargo capacity is just over 65 cubic feet. However, it has a more ample storage area when every seat is in use (more than 35 cubic feet). 

The Sorento PHEV also starts at over $11,000 more than the standard Sportage PHEV. Still, for all its advantages, the 2023 Kia Sorento PHEV is worth $49,890.


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