The 2021 Kia Sorento PHEV Won’t Solve Its biggest Problem

The 2021 Kia Sorento currently lacks power compared to rivals. However, the Kia Sorento PHEV is on the way. Perhaps the plug-in hybrid version of the refreshed Kia SUV will add a little more muscle. 

Will the 2021 Kia Sorento PHEV have more power? 

We aren’t saying that the 2021 Kia Sorento is a weak vehicle, compared to rivals like Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer have V6 engines, and the Sorento doesn’t. Currently, the Sorento has three engine options: 

  • The base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder option with 191 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. 
  • You can upgrade to the 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine for 277 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. 
  • Also, the Hybrid Sorento has a 1.6-liter four-cylinder gas engine that’s paired with a 44-kWh electric motor for a combined 227 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. 

So, the base engine is pretty average, and the turbo option ups the power. However, the Toyota Highlander has a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 295 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque.

An image of the Kia Sorento Hybrid on the road.
2021 Sorento HEV Hybrid | Kia

295 may not sound like much more than 277, and the Sorento has more torque, but the 2021 Sorento can only tow up to 3,500 lb while the Highlander can tow up to 5,000 lb. 

This puts the Sorento behind the competition. Also, to make matters worse, the 2020 Kia Sorento has a V6 engine and can tow up to 5,000 lb. So, while the 2021 model has an amazing new look and more rugged, off-roading features, the older looking style has more power. But the 2021 Sorento PHEV is on the way and could solve these issues. 

What to expect with the Sorento PHEV 

When the plug-in hybrid model arrives, it will have a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s paired with a 66.9-kW battery to provide 261 hp. This will be more powerful than the current hybrid model, but it still isn’t up to par. 

RELATED: The 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Blows the Kia Sorento Out of the Water

While the official numbers haven’t been released, the 2021 Sorento PHEV is still only expected to tow up to 3,500 lb. So, if you need to tow a heavier trailer, you might be better off with one of its rivals. 

But if you don’t need to tow, the Kia Sorento still has it’s benefits. While the hybrid version can’t be paired with all-wheel drive, it still gets an EPA estimated 39 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. The PHEV version has a larger battery, so it could be even more fuel-efficient and will offer AWD.  

Is the 2021 Sorento a good SUV? 

Yes, the 2021 Kia Sorento is a great SUV option. You can make it as luxurious as you want with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster display and a 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Plus, the wheelbase has been extended by 1.4-inches to provide a smoother ride and more passenger space. 

The 2021 Kia Sorento is the brand's newest SUV.
2021 Sorento SX Interior | Kia

The standard infotainment center is still an impressive 8.0-inch touchscreen, and other premium upgrades include captain chairs in the second row, a wireless charging pad, and a 12-speaker Bose sound system. 

Standard safety features include forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assistance. Available features include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.