Kia Sorento 1.6 HEV T-GDi AWD

Kia Sorento front lr

By Tim Saunders

A seven-seater SUV that seems to travel at speeds of up to 50mph in EV mode. That’s what I experience while driving the Kia Sorento on the motorway.

I’ve driven numerous hybrids and many will only travel at up to 30mph on EV mode. So, you can imagine my amazement when I’m on the M27 and see the EV sign flash up on the dash and I’m not free-wheeling at the time either. This is the 1.6-litre petrol version and a full tank will travel over 500 miles returning around 42mpg during the test.

My time with the Kia takes place when there’s persistent rain for days on end (what’s new in England?). This results in surface water on virtually every road we travel down. It becomes particularly worrying on the country lanes where there aren’t just puddles but the entire road surfaces seem to be covered in water and on occasions it’s hard to gauge the depth. I’d be worried if I was in a standard everyday car especially when there are so many potholes about but I’m in the Sorento so excess water and poor roads are no challenge whatsoever. Nevertheless, caution is called for. I remember in 2023 during the autumn floods, a driver who often passed through a usually low Yorkshire river, attempted to do the same but with some passengers, and they all died as their off-roader was overcome by treacherous water. Never be complacent on or off road.

During torrential downpours the Kia’s wipers are sufficiently fast to keep the windscreen clear.

It’s my eldest daughter’s birthday and she wants to go for a walk in the South Downs regardless of the weather so after our picnic - inside the vehicle - we brave the elements and have a great time. However, when we return we are dripping – a great test for those heated seats in the front and second row (but not the third row where Henry is sitting). These seats are also cooled when that blistering summer heat arrives. They’re effective although “not as hot as in other cars” says my wife, Caroline. Well, that can’t be a bad thing as far as I can tell.

In common with all modern vehicles there are lots of warning sounds and beeps and when turning the engine off there’s an au revoir note like on some washing machines. All of these bells and whistles are not for me, I like simple – so does my wife – that’s why she married me!

If you dare to listen to the radio when the engine is off, a warning message soon appears on the dash stating that the battery is running out. This is always very frustrating. In older, smaller cars it’s possible to listen to the radio for quarter of an hour or more without fear of draining the battery. That’s progress for you.

It’s a large vehicle and easily accommodates the five of us. We think it will be a nice gesture to offer to take Grandma for a drive because we haven’t normally got room. But she’s too tired. Then when we visit Grandpa, he’s not fit enough, so in the end we’re unable to carry more than the usual five of us, which is a pity but never mind. Such is life.

The full-length panoramic glass roof incorporating an electric tilt/slide sunroof certainly makes the dark cabin lighter. What a great addition for a hot summer’s day. I can only dream.

Being such a large vehicle it is a little awkward to reverse at times but generally the camera helps, unless heavy rain obscures the vision.

An easy-to-use six-speed automatic unit is fitted to this vehicle and to engage it’s simply a matter of turning the dial and selecting D for drive or R for reverse. There’s little skill required in driving such a vehicle although its size can make negotiating parked cars a little challenging when driving down a B-road. In economy mode it is prone to lethargy when leaving traffic lights but if more stealth is required then select a different mode. There are paddleshifts either side of the steering wheel for more engaging driving, too.

Overall, we all like the Sorento.

Facts at a glance

Kia Sorento 1.6 HEV T-GDi AWD
Model tested: £51,000 approx
Top speed: 120mph
0-60mph: 9secs
Economy: 40mpg approx
Power: 226bhp


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