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The loveable bumbling character of the 90s sitcom Home Improvement always wanted more power in everything he touched. Unfortunately for Tim Taylor, played by Tim Allen, those items he added more power to often blew up in his face. Right now, we wish he could get his hands on the 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV. While a nice hybrid SUV with an electric driving range, it seems to need more power.

Is the 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV SUV underpowered?

White 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV on a dirt trail
2022 Kia Sorento PHEV | Kia

When you want to take advantage of electric-only driving in a plug-in hybrid, you need that portion of the drive to feel as natural as it does when the gasoline engine is providing the power. Car and Driver tell us the electric motor of the Sorento PHEV makes only 90 horsepower, which isn’t enough to move a midsize SUV the way you want. The electric range is 32 miles, but you’ve got to have a ton of patience or make sure all of those miles are in the city where you can drive slowly. The power to weight ratio during an EV drive in this Kia is laughable enough that a Yugo comparison is on the table.

Total system power is admirable for this SUV

Blue 2022 Kia Sorento posed
2022 Kia Sorento | Kia

If you’re willing to use the Sorento PHEV using the entire system at all times, you’ll have plenty of power for every drive. The powertrain of this vehicle gives you a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission to go along with the electric motor. This package brings you 261 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque combined. This should be enough power to get you going the right way.


Compare the PHEV and the Kia Sorento’s regular hybrid, and you find the plug-in model weighs 395 pounds more. Of that amount, 221 pounds is the battery, with the rest belonging to the AWD system of the plug-in model. The PHEV had 34 more horsepower than the regular hybrid version, but that extra weight soaks up that power difference in a hurry.

In fact, the 0-60 time for the regular hybrid Sorento is 7.2 seconds, while the plug-in model takes 7.6 seconds. The PHEV also finishes the quarter-mile in 15.8 seconds at 89 mph, which is 0.2 seconds and three mph slower than the regular hybrid.

Another feather for the regular hybrid is the option of either an FWD or AWD layout for the drive. The Kia Sorento PHEV only comes in AWD.

Different trims offered for each hybrid version of this Kia SUV

A green Kia Sorento is driving off-road.
A green Kia Sorento is driving off-road | Kia

The trims and costs are another set of comparisons you want to make between the Kia Sorento Hybrid and the PHEV models. Kelley Blue Book informs us that the regular hybrid version of the Sorento comes in the S and EX trims, while the PHEV model goes higher to the SX and SX-P trim levels.

What does this mean for you?

It means the regular hybrid version of the Sorento starts at $34,090 for the S trim, while the EX model begins at $36,090. Adding AWD increases that price, but you have that option for this version of the Sorento.

Comparatively, the plug-in hybrid SUV starts at $44,990 for the SX trim and $47,890 for the SX-P. You don’t have the option of FWD or AWD with this model.

Which Kia Sorento Hybrid SUV offers better fuel mileage and towing?

Blue 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV posed
2022 Kia Sorento PHEV | Kia

Another kicker for you is that the regular hybrid model of this Kia SUV gives you greater fuel mileage and towing. This model in FWD versions reaches 39 city/35 hwy mpg with 2,000 pounds of towing. The AWD model returns 36 city/33 hwy mpg.

The numbers for the PHEV model stand at 35 city/33 hwy mpg and 1,650 pounds of towing.

Should you buy the PHEV version of the Sorento?

Kia Sorento Hybrid Review by Bros Fourr Speed

If you want a plug-in hybrid SUV with an electric driving range because you’re going to drive a few miles a day, the Kia Sorento PHEV isn’t a bad choice. You can get around town slowly, of course, and go where you need to without ever using a drop of gasoline.

On the other hand

When you want better fuel mileage, more towing, a lower price, and more options, the regular hybrid version of the Kia Sorento SUV is the vehicle you want to drive. The regular hybrid model has all the benefits you want without the compromises required to drive the PHEV version.


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