Kia unveils new Toyota Hybrid fighter

The thriving South Korean automaker is taking on Toyota by adding gasoline-electric power to one of its most popular machines.

Kia has added a hybrid model to its seven-seat Sorento SUV range, taking up the gauntlet for Toyota’s petrol-electric Kluger.

The Sorento Hybrid is only available in the top-end GT-Line, and buyers can choose between front- or four-wheel drive for about $72,400 and $75,500, respectively.

That represents a premium of about $7,000 over the GT-Line front-wheel drive gasoline and GT-Line four-wheel drive diesel. It’s also about $12,000 cheaper than the Sorento plug-in hybrid that brings a bigger battery and can be driven up to 68 miles on pure electric power.

Kia claims the front-wheel drive hybrid drinks 5.3 l/100 km and the heavier all-wheel drive model tested here drinks 5.8 l/100 km.

We got about 7L/100km in a mix of road and city riding, which is impressive for a big machine.

On the road, the Sorento is built for comfort, with a well-sorted suspension that soaks up bumps and ripples with ease. The trade-off is a little lean through corners, which is typical of larger family SUVs.

Precise steering and grip on all wheels provide confidence on wet roads.

The hybrid set-up in the Sorento combines a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine with a small 44 kW electric motor for a combined output of 169 kW and 350 Nm of torque.

There’s plenty of oomph from the get-go and a decent push when the Sorento is called in for a quick overtake.

During most of the commute, the gasoline engine does most of the heavy lifting, but occasionally the electric motor kicks in. The small 1kWh battery charges during braking.

The Sorento is quiet, with just a whiff of hum from the electric motor and a distant thump from the turbocharged engine entering the interior. On the highway there is minimal road and tire noise.

The Sorento is smaller than the Kluger and stands out in urban areas where the Kia is easy to maneuver in tight parking garages and inner-city streets. Only available in GT-Line version, the hybrid is included.

Passengers are greeted by smooth padded Nappa leather seats, which are electronically adjustable, heated and ventilated in the front. The outer seats in the second row are also heated.

The cab features a mix of soft-touch materials and glossy black surfaces, while mood lighting lifts the mood at night.

Entertainment includes a 12-speaker Bose stereo controlled via a 10.25-inch central touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A slick 12.3-inch high-resolution digital driver display provides useful information.

The cab has several USB charging points in all rows and there is a charging point for wireless devices in the front center console. Passengers in all three rows are spoiled for choice with individual vents and there are eight cup holders.

Families will appreciate the built-in awnings in the second row, while the third row is comfortable for children and smaller teens.

Safety equipment is extensive.

The Sorento brakes automatically if it detects a possible collision with a car, pedestrian or cyclist.

It also warns the driver if something is in the blind spot of the car and sounds an alarm if a car drives past as you back out of a driveway or parking space.

The lane assist technology pulls on the wheel if you start to drift out of your lane, while a bird’s eye view camera makes parking a cinch.

Kia covers its vehicles with an industry-leading seven-year/unlimited mileage warranty, but maintenance is eye-wateringly expensive at over $3,000 over a five-year period.

PRONOUNCEMENT 3.5/5

Good looking, well equipped family SUV with decent fuel economy. Cheaper grades and a more affordable maintenance program would be welcome.

KIA SORENTO AWD HYBRID VITALS

PRICE From about $75,500 drive-away

ENGINE 1.6-litre turbo petrol and electric motor, 169 kW and 350 Nm

WARRANTY/MAINTENANCE Seven years/unlimited mileage, $3080 over five years

SAFETY Automatic emergency braking, lane assistant, blind spot monitoring, rear intersection warning and 360-degree camera

THIRST 5.8L/100km

RESERVE Full size

lUGGAGE 175-1988 liters

#Kia #unveils #Toyota #Hybrid #fighter

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