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Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are a relatively overlooked corner of the car market, but they can serve as an excellent transitional point for folks who want a clean and fuel-efficient car but don’t trust EVs yet. Many automakers currently have PHEV options in their lineups, and Kia, in particular, has some good ones, so it’s a good idea to compare them to see which one is better. Here’s a look at four advantages that the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV has over the Kia Sorento PHEV.

1. The Kia Sportage PHEV has a lower starting price than the Sorento PHEV

For many car shoppers, a car’s price is the most important consideration when making a decision, and in terms of price, the Kia Sportage PHEV is simply the cheaper option. According to Edmunds, the Sportage PHEV has a starting price tag of about $38,500 MSRP. In comparison, the Kia Sorento PHEV has a starting price tag of about $50,000 MSRP. That’s a difference of about $11,500.

Car shoppers can choose to simply pocket those massive savings, or they can spend it and upgrade their Sportage PHEV to their liking. The X-Line Prestige trim for the Sportage PHEV starts at about $43,000 MSRP. Even if folks choose that trim option for their Sportage PHEV, they’re still saving about $7,000 compared to if they had bought the Sorento PHEV instead. The Sorento PHEV, meanwhile, has no other trim option.

2. The Sportage PHEV has a longer electric driving range

A gray 2023 Kia Sportage plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) parked near patches of greenery as the sun sets
2023 Kia Sportage PHEV | Kia America

A PHEV’s electric driving range is one of its most important specs, and despite having the same battery, the Kia Sportage PHEV has a longer electric driving range than the Kia Sorento PHEV. Kia gave both SUVs a 13.8-kWh battery. The Sportage PHEV can go 34 miles on that battery, while the Sorento PHEV is only able to go 32 miles, likely due to its larger size and weight. That’s a small range difference of about 2 miles, but since drivers typically use battery-only mode for shorter trips, that range difference can add up. 

3. The Sportage PHEV is the more fuel-efficient vehicle

That said, PHEVs are typically more dependent on their gas-powered engine, so a PHEV’s overall fuel economy matters more. The Kia Sportage PHEV still has the advantage in this regard, as it’s simply the more fuel-efficient option. In regular driving mode, the Sportage PHEV gets 38 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on highways, for 38 mpg combined.

On the other hand, the Kia Sorento PHEV gets 35 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on highways, for 34 mpg combined. That’s a difference of about 4 mpg between the two Kia SUVs. There’s also a significant fuel economy difference when the two are in hybrid mode. The Sportage PHEV gets 84 MPGe combined, while the Sorento PHEV only gets 79 MPGe combined. That’s a difference of 5 MPGe, and these fuel economy differences can mean a lot of money over a year or two of driving.

4. The Sportage PHEV has more ground clearance than the Sorento PHEV

While the Kia Sportage PHEV is a smaller SUV in terms of its physical dimensions, it actually has one advantage in this area. Edmunds finds that the Sportage PHEV has a ground clearance of 8.3 inches. This is a much better ground clearance than what the Kia Sorento PHEV gets, which is only 6.9 inches. 

That’s a ground clearance difference of about 1.4 inches. This small but meaningful difference in ground clearance also means that the Sportage PHEV can handle off-road adventures and on-road obstacles better than the Sorento PHEV can.


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