First Drive

Kia Sorento PHEV 1.6 T-GDi 2021 UK review

It of course runs silently when in EV mode, and once you’re at a cruise, the handover between electric and petrol is fairly subtle. Things become far more intrusive when attempting to overtake, though, arguably more so than in rival plug-ins. 

Rolling acceleration is very good, given the Sorento’s bulk, but it is often indecisive at junctions as it chooses between petrol or electric power. This is less of an issue in Sport driving mode, where both motors work in tandem, although even here it feels quick rather than truly rapid. It’s a shame this mode also makes the steering excessively weighty, which doesn’t play well with the overly keen lane assist function: intentionally steering over a lane dividing line can create an at times alarming elastic feel. And given how sluggish the wheel-mounted paddle shifters are to change gears, there’s little to be gained from truly pressing on.

This remains an SUV best enjoyed at a moderate pace. Larger wheels mean the ride isn’t quite as relaxed as in other Sorento versions, and body control can still wallow over more uneven surfaces, but it copes far better with the kinds of roads that SUVs like it tend to call home. 

The raised driving position suits the Sorento’s character well, and the combination of metal-effect plastic and angular switchgear gives the cabin a premium appearance – even if it doesn’t necessarily feel like it to the touch. While the 12.3in digital instrument cluster is comfortably on a par with pricier rivals, the base model’s more basic 8.0in touchscreen feels a little off the pace, but there’s always Apple CarPlay or Android Auto if you prefer.

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