Autotrader: The 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid is a sharp-looking family-friendly SUV

The 2021 Kia Sorento
Hybrid is all new and a great choice for those looking for an economical, family-oriented SUV.

The Sorento Hybrid is one of the few available 3-row hybrid crossover SUVs. There aren't many on the market right now, and those that – like hybrid versions of the Toyota – are
+ 0.55%
Highlander Hybrid and Ford
+ 1.75%
Explorer – are slightly larger and more expensive. These models also offer seats (Explorer) or up to eight seats (Highlander), in contrast to the 6-passenger configuration of the Sorento hybrid.

If a hybrid powertrain is not a must, the competition set will open up further to vehicles like the 2021 VW
+ 2.12%
Tiguan, 2021 Subaru
+ 1.46%
Rise and the upcoming Mitsubishi 2022

A major limiting factor on the 2021 Sorento Hybrid is that it is only front-wheel drive (FWD). All-wheel drive (AWD) is not available, which can make the vehicle less attractive to consumers who live in cold weather. It should be noted, however, that Kia has a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the Sorento that will be available later in 2021. This model will have AWD and other advantages over the hybrid (albeit at a higher price).

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Despite the lack of AWD, we're still big fans of the 2021 Sorento Hybrid. If you're looking for an economical, versatile, and well-equipped SUV, the Kia is hard to beat, especially for the price.

What's new for 2021?

As a brand new model, the Sorento Hybrid 2021 differs from its competitors with a clearly structured, slightly aggressive SUV design.

The 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid


The exterior looks sharp and functional, with a wide grille, high-tech headlights, and available matte black accents around the wheel openings.

In the interior, the three-row seating arrangement gains a little more space than the Sorento of the previous generation. This means that the third row seat is more suitable for adult occupants than just children.

In most smaller three-row SUVs, the third row is virtually unusable. The designers at Kia have managed to achieve relatively good leg and headroom. However, the low seat height means that taller occupants will find their knees at chin level.

Non-hybrid Sorento models can be ordered with a three-sided bench in the second row. However, the hybrid has two captain's chairs. Thus, the Sorento Hybrid offers space for a maximum of six passengers, compared to seven in other models.

If all seats are occupied, the cargo space behind the third row is minimal. However, if you fold down the rearmost seats, the cargo capacity is more than competitive with the competition and is made even more impressive by the second row of chairs folded up.

All around the cabin, the equipment level is a step down compared to the top non-hybrid models. However, the Sorento hybrid still offers some appealing aesthetic details. This includes an 8 inch. Touchscreen in the middle as well as some metal trim parts, synthetic leather upholstery and a steering wheel wrapped in leather. All of this helps to relieve the typical cabin atmosphere "sea made of plastic".

We're not in love with the vertical air vents on the dashboard. Visually, these vents disrupt the flow of an otherwise factual dashboard.

Under the hood, the Sorento Hybrid 2021 is equipped with a significantly more powerful 1.6-liter 4-cylinder turbo engine. This engine delivers 42 hp more than its predecessor and, in combination with the hybrid's electric motor, delivers a total of 227 hp.

What we like

Decent performance for a hybrid

Usable third row seat

Clear, contemporary design

Excellent fuel economy

Impressive guarantee

What we don't do

Lack of AWD

Weird looking dashboard vents

Modest Towing Capacity (2,000 pounds)

How much?

Prices for the 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid start at $ 33,590 for the S fairing and rise to $ 36,590 for the EX model. The target fee is $ 1,170.

Fuel consumption

The Kia Sorento is powered by a 1.6-liter turbo engine with 178 hp and a 60 hp electric motor. This combination supplies the front wheels with electricity via a six-speed automatic transmission.

As such, the Sorento delivers 39 miles per gallon in the city, 35 mpg on the highway, and 37 mpg combined, according to fuel economy tests conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Standard features and options

There are two equipment variants for the Sorento Hybrid 2021. S and EX. Both share most of the same features in common, with the EX adding some upscale elements.

The S-fairing is fitted with 17-inch wheels and features LED headlights, heated exterior mirrors, chrome-plated roof rails as well as a black grille and wheel arches.

Inside there is a push button / remote start, a leather steering wheel, synthetic leather seat trim, a power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, two-zone climate control, a 4.2-inch instrument display and an 8.0-inch touchscreen in the center.

To that list, the EX adds a panoramic sunroof, black exterior trim, LED fog lights, a cell phone charger and adaptive cruise control.


For the year 2021, the Sorento hybrid will add additional driver aids as standard. These include a forward collision system, lane departure warning, lane departure warning, occupant warning, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic warning.

The EX fairing adds a more sophisticated forward collision system to the suite of safety systems that detects cyclists as well as vehicles and pedestrians. The EX also has a parking sensor system that works not only at the rear, but at the front and rear.

Most automakers are working hard to improve vehicle safety systems, and Kia is no exception. The standard driver aids of the Sorento hybrid can be compared well with competitors and offer buyers welcome security.


The Sorento Hybrid 2021 driving experience is significantly enhanced by two factors: the vehicle's performance and the use of a traditional automatic transmission versus a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), as is the case with many hybrids.

In terms of performance, Kia's 227 hp Sorento hybrid is said to be the best in its class. In fact, the Sorento responds sharply to the gas in most situations, including when climbing.

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We suspect that the hybrid Sorento's relatively powerful electric motor, with its immediate torque response, helps make the Kia feel so lively.

We are pleased with the lack of a CVT as this type of transmission usually allows the engine to spin noisily at full throttle until the vehicle speed catches up.

In comparison, the Kia is a pretty nifty companion on a road trip with a low noise level and comfortable ride quality.

The driver can choose from four driving modes that adjust the responsiveness of the drive train as required. And paddle shift levers are designed for drivers who want the automatic transmission to shift gears on command.

Other cars to consider

2021 Ford Explorer Hybrid –The Explorer is 10 inches longer than the Sorento hybrid and one of the few three-row hybrids in the same stadium as the Kia.

2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid –Like the Explorer, the Highlander Hybrid really belongs to a different category than the Kia, but offers 3-row seating.

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Autotrader Advice

There isn't much to choose from in the 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid range. The EX cladding extends the S equipment variant with some nice, but not absolutely necessary elements. So you can save $ 3,000 by opting for the Sorento base hybrid.

This story originally ran on

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