Kia Sorento: Plug-In Hybrid unveiled, but will the U.S. get a piece of the action?

Kia first teased the idea of a PHEV variant of the Sorento when it revealed the lineup of engines that would underpin the new model back in February, with the model making its debut at the Geneva Motor Show. Alot has changed since then, but Kia’s plans appear to be soldiering on with its long term plans for the Sorento, with the Korean car brand unveiling the production Sorento Plug-In Hybrid.

A key catch is that for the moment, we have no U.S. related information on the model, with all of what we know coming from what will be available to European customers. Kia for its part has not confirmed whether it’s indeed coming to our shores or not, but looking at some of what it has to offer, we think that it might have the chance to do a commendable job in luring in U.S. SUV buyers. A key thing that U.S. customers look for is power, and the Sorento PHEV could help satisfy that demand, thanks to a 1.6 liter turbocharged four cylinder which is paired with a single electric motor. The end result is 261 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque when the two are working together as a team. The 1.6 liter engine takes advantage of Hyundai’s all new CVVD technology to help boost efficiency and power. The electric motor is also a new and improved version that showcases an all new two stage lamination process that is supposed to reduce noise and excessive vibrations. A six speed automatic handles the formal shifting duties, and is also the lone transmission offering available.

A 13.8 kWh battery pack lurks underneath, but Kia is not ready to reveal range estimates just yet. Instead, the company claims that the “all-electric range will be sufficient to enable drivers to complete most short drives on electric power alone.” We suspect that will roughly translate to about 25 miles of gas free range in EPA testing, but until the model formally makes its way state side, the real answer might not be known for a very long time. The battery also serves as an innovation for the Sorento, with the model being the first Kia offering to use an independent battery pack water cooling system. Kia claims that this novel solution will maximize cooling while also boosting efficiency at the same time.


The exterior styling remains largely unchanged from other international market Sorentos, with the key difference being the charging port itself, as well as “eco-plugin” badging. The interior also remains largely unchanged, but the 12.3 inch digital instrument display has been tweaked slightly with the software needed to access PHEV exclusive information, while the 10.25 inch infotainment system adds a charging station locator.


Kia revealed that sales in select international markets will kick off in early 2021. As mentioned earlier, the U.S. is not getting the PHEV for the moment, with the company not releasing any potential timeline for U.S. availability. Hopefully the company will change its tune in the future, especially since the U.S. SUV market is a highly desirable slice of the global market, and having an SUV that can offer power and state of the art green technology might allow Kia to hit a very promising sweet spot with customers on our shores.