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Kia Sorento 2023 review: HEV GT-Line AWD

Kia Sorento HEV GT-Line AWD - it's not just the hybrid powertrain that will impress.

The new Kia Sorento HEV GT-Line AWD is another entry to the growing hybrid market and competes against heavy hitters like the Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota Kluger, but what makes it different from the competitors?

Well, it’s a seven-seater that boasts four ISOFIX child seat mounts and five top-tethers (I can hear the families singing, now) but it’s really the features list that makes this model one to watch.

I’ve been in this for a week with my family of three and it’s not just my little boy who is impressed!

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Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

There are only two models for the Sorento HEV variant, the only difference is one is a front-wheel drive and the other (ours) is an all-wheel drive.

The AWD will cost you $69,750, before on-road costs. It ain’t cheap but if you’re familiar with Kia, you’ll know that ‘GT-Line’ means top spec and that means a great features list.

You get the luxury items, like: heated and ventilated front seats that have a Nappa leather mixed trim, heated outboard seats in the second row, heated steering wheel, 14-way electric driver's seat, 10-way electric passenger's seat, panoramic sunroof and a powered tailgate.

The Sorento HEV GT-Line AWD will cost you $69,750, before on-road costs. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Sorento HEV GT-Line AWD will cost you $69,750, before on-road costs. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The kiddie features are superb with the aforementioned ISOFIX mounts and top tethers, seven seats (2/3/2 configuration), hard kickplates on front seat backs, cupholders galore, directional air vents in each row and retractable sun shades on the rear doors.

Despite the extensive features list, the price tag is average for the competitors and a little under the more expensive Toyota Kluger.

By the end of the week, I did wonder what family would be wanting this over a ‘soccer mum’ people mover because if it’s the seven seats which interest you, you can pick up the top-spec Carnival for the same cash… which might make it more practical for kid stowage.

  • The Sorento HEV variant features a panoramic sunroof. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Sorento HEV variant features a panoramic sunroof. (Image: Glen Sullivan)
  • The kiddie features are superb with four ISOFIX child seat mounts and five top-tethers. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The kiddie features are superb with four ISOFIX child seat mounts and five top-tethers. (Image: Glen Sullivan)
  • There is a USB-A port embedded in the side of each front seat. (Image: Glen Sullivan) There is a USB-A port embedded in the side of each front seat. (Image: Glen Sullivan)
  • Amenities include directional air vents in each row. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Amenities include directional air vents in each row. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Design – Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Sorento is a good-looking SUV that has a refined shape. There’s enough going on to stir some interest, like the chrome panelling and accents, 19-inch alloy wheels and wide LED lights.

Standing at 1900mm tall, the SUV tag feels deserved but the 4810mm length and 1700mm width makes it feel well-proportioned for urban adventures, too.

The interior is beautifully appointed with soft touchpoints, quilted Nappa leather mixed with synthetic leather trims and shiny chrome inserts. It looks on point for the market and definitely top-spec.

The Sorento HEV is 4810mm in length. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Sorento HEV is 4810mm in length. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The ambient lighting creates a cozy atmosphere in low light and the panoramic display panel on the dashboard looks great.

Each row has similar design points, making the overall aesthetic feel well-executed.

The exterior colour choices are a bit dull, our 'Mineral Blue' paintwork ($695) being one of the more interesting options, but there’s an understated elegance to the Sorento that should keep it feeling modern for years to come.

The interior is beautifully appointed with quilted Nappa leather mixed with synthetic leather trims. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The interior is beautifully appointed with quilted Nappa leather mixed with synthetic leather trims. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

For a seven-seater that’s not a ‘people mover’, this is very practical.

The front and second rows will enjoy loads of leg and headroom (even with that panoramic sunroof). The driver gets spoiled with easy-to-use tech that feels modern and looks good.

The 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia system has built-in satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The driver gets spoiled with easy-to-use tech that feels modern and looks good. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The driver gets spoiled with easy-to-use tech that feels modern and looks good. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The 12.3-inch digital instrument panel is customisable and easy to read, as is the head-up display. There are three USB-A ports, a 12-volt socket and a wireless charging pad, too. Like I said, spoiled.

Storage throughout is pretty good but the drink bottle holders in each door are a tad too skinny and shallow to be useful for the popular and bigger reusable bottles out nowadays.

My six-year old felt like a king in the second row. It was easy for him to climb in and out because of the 176mm ground clearance and the door handles weren’t too high for him to access himself.

  • The second row passengers will enjoy loads of leg and headroom. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The second row passengers will enjoy loads of leg and headroom. (Image: Glen Sullivan)
  • The third row positions are more suited for children. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The third row positions are more suited for children. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

He also enjoyed the retractable sun shades, directional air vents, cupholders in the armrest and the cupholders in the door handle.

Adults will be happy in this row on a longer journey, too. There is a USB-A port embedded in the side of each front seat, plus an extra at the rear of the middle console. No one will be fighting to stay charged up.

The third row positions are still sometimes seats for adults, in my opinion. But what it lacks in space, it makes up for in amenities.

  • The Sorento's boot sits on the smaller end for the market with 187L (VDA) with all seven seats in use. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Sorento's boot sits on the smaller end for the market with 187L (VDA) with all seven seats in use. (Image: Glen Sullivan)
  • Stow the third row and it only jumps up to 616L (VDA). (Image: Glen Sullivan) Stow the third row and it only jumps up to 616L (VDA). (Image: Glen Sullivan)
  • With the second and third rows stowed, there is 2011L (VDA) of boot capacity. (Image: Glen Sullivan) With the second and third rows stowed, there is 2011L (VDA) of boot capacity. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

There are directional air vents, fan control, drink holders, snack trays, reading lights and a couple of USB-A ports.

The boot is a bit of a let-down, though. It sits on the smaller end for the market with 187L (VDA) with all seven seats in use.

Stow the third row and it only jumps up to 616L (VDA). The level load space and squared shaping does make it appear larger than it is, but it was more than enough for my weekday errands and the grocery run.

If you do need extra space, you can bump it to a massive 2011L (VDA) with just the front seats in use. Impressively, you get a full-size spare tyre, as well.

Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its engine and transmission?

All hybrid variants (including the plug-in hybrid) share the same engine - a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol with a maximum output of 132kW/265Nm.

It also has an electric motor which produces 44 kilowatts of power and 264Nm of torque. The overall combined total is 169kW/350Nm.

The motor is powered by a lithium-ion polymer battery. The electric motor tends to kick in more at lower speeds, stop-start traffic and idling.

The engine can feel a bit under-powered at lower speeds and combined with the six-speed auto transmission it’s not what I would call zippy. But once you get up to speed, it’s an easy SUV to cruise in.

All hybrid variants share the same 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine. (Image: Glen Sullivan) All hybrid variants share the same 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Efficiency – What is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?

I’m quite happy with how it’s performed with fuel economy but am surprised it didn’t perform better for a hybrid.

The official combined cycle fuel consumption figure is 5.8L/100km, and real-world testing saw me average 7.1L/100km.

That’s not as awesome as some hybrids on the market now, but it’s very respectable given the size of this SUV.

The Sorento has a 67L fuel tank, takes regular unleaded petrol (91 RON min) and has an approximate driving range of 940km, using our on-test figure.

The official combined cycle fuel consumption figure for the Sorento HEV is 5.8L/100km. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The official combined cycle fuel consumption figure for the Sorento HEV is 5.8L/100km. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Driving – What's it like to drive?

The driving doesn’t have the polish that the rest of the car does but it will get you from A to B… just maybe without the pizzaz.

When the electric motor is being solely used, the ‘engine’ noise is non-existent and you have reversing beeps like you do in a full EV but then it switches over to the engine, which is loud and can sound whiny when you put your foot down.

The steering is firm but smooth and the 11.6m turning circle helps with tight car parks. As does the crisp 360-degree camera view.

The Sorento is a heavy SUV and you will feel that when you’re tackling bends. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Sorento is a heavy SUV and you will feel that when you’re tackling bends. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

However, the lane keeping aid does make it a bit jerky at times, which I didn’t like. It’s also a pain to turn off every time but I would make an effort in the city.

Unlike a number ofother Kia models, the Sorento Hybrid has not been tuned in Australia to suit local conditions. As a result, the ride comfort is a lot firmer than I was expecting and you feel every bump in the road.

The car shakes, rattles and bounces along the country roads near me; I think this is more suited to urban drivers.

It’s a heavy SUV and you will feel that when you’re slowing down or tackling bends. I got A LOT of noise from my passengers this week, despite a lower cruising speed to not jostle them about.  

The steering is firm but smooth. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The steering is firm but smooth. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

The safety list is what makes this a true family car, and anxious parents need not stress because the following come as standard: LED daytime running lights, LED lights, automatic emergency braking (with pedestrian, car, cyclist detection and junction assist), forward collision warning, lane departure alert, lane keeping aid, emergency lane keeping aid, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, 360-degree view camera with parking guidelines, front and rear parking sensors and rear occupant alert (which pops on every time you park).

A special mention for the blind-spot camera view that pops up on the instrument panel when you indicate. It was a really nice feature in the city which added some reassurance when you had to change lanes.

The Sorento's safety list includes a 360-degree view camera with parking guidelines. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Sorento's safety list includes a 360-degree view camera with parking guidelines. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

It only has seven airbags, which does include the newer front centre airbag but unfortunately, the curtain airbags don’t cover the third row. Which is something to consider if you plan on using that row regularly.

The Sorento has a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating and it was tested not that long ago in 2020.

There are ISOFIX child seat mounts on the outboard seats in the middle row and three top tether anchor points. Interestingly, the third row also boasts two ISOFIX child seat mounts and two top tether anchor points. There is enough room with a 0-4 rearward facing child seat is installed.

The Sorento has a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating (tested in 2020). (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Sorento has a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating (tested in 2020). (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

Ongoing costs are always something to consider and the Sorento comes with Kia’s seven-year/unlimited km warranty, which is above average for the market.

The Sorento comes with a seven-year capped-priced servicing plan, which is better than most but services are a bit expensive at an annual average of $608.

Servicing intervals could get annoying if you travel a lot, they’re at every 12 months or every 10,000km, whichever occurs first.

The Sorento comes with Kia’s seven-year/unlimited km warranty. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Sorento comes with Kia’s seven-year/unlimited km warranty. (Image: Glen Sullivan)


The Wrap

The Kia Sorento HEV GT-Line AWD is a mouthful to say but the all-round experience is light-hearted and practical. The amenities inside are really good and definitely make it feel top-spec. The driving experience is a bit mixed for me to truly love it as the everyday car but families wanting comfort won’t be disappointed. I would still be inclined to consider the bigger Carnival, considering the price but the hybrid powertrain makes it fairly fuel efficient and that makes up for the driving.

My son really enjoyed the amenities in his row and felt comfortable.

Likes

Extensive features list
Quality build
Upmarket but easy-to-use tech

Dislikes

Driving can be underwhelming
No curtain airbags for third row
Hard ride

Scores

Emily:

4

The Kids:

5

$46,990 - $83,990

Based on 89 car listings in the last 6 months

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