We have the brand new 2021 Kia Sorento PHEV (plug-in-hybrid) to test with our family! This seven-seat Sorento SUV we know is popular with families so let's see how the top-of-the-range PHEV stacks up as a BabyDrive…
In the back of the Sorento PHEV there are ISOFix points in the two outer second-row seats and in both third-row seats and top tether anchorages in all five rear seats! Which is great news for large families needing all five rear seats or for smaller families who want the flexibility of where they position their child seats.
If you'd like to learn any more about the child seats used in this video you can click on the link here.
Legroom is great across the three rows of seats and with these forward-facing child seats in the third-row and a rear-facing Infasecure Attain More in the second-row we could fit a 184cm driver in front.
The second-row seats of the Sorento PHEV are split 60:40 and the 40% is unfortunately on the driver's side (the road side), which makes it slightly trickier when getting kids in and out of the back. We found accessing the third-row in the Sorento is actually pretty good.
It works really well if you're just using two child seats in the second row. However, if you've got three it will still work, you can bring either the 60% or 40% seat forward and climb through to the third row. To do this, you need to use the ISOFIX to attach your child seat, not the cars seat belt.
There are air-con vents in all three rows in the Kia Sorento PHEV which is fantastic, they are in the back of the central console box in the second row and in the sidewalls of the third row. You can control the rear air coming from the front, which is perfect for families so parents can set the climate.
The second-row doors have built-in window blinds, which is great for shielding rear passengers from the sun while you're driving along.
Also in the rear doors of this model Sorento, there are heated seat buttons, which I'm not a fan of because if a little one presses it while you're driving along and you've got no idea that they're cooking themselves in the back.
Now there are still no third-row airbags in the Sorento PHEV, which is a shame and doesn't offer those passengers in the back row any protection in the event of a crash.
Storage in the back of the Kia Sorento is excellent! Third-row passengers get cupholders and iPad or phone holders on both sides and there's a USB port there too.
In the second row, there are some stand-out storage features like the double layer map pockets that will hold and conceal an iPad and there's a separate little net on front which is good for holding a phone or more.
The doors are really good in the back, where they will hold a refillable water bottle and there are cupholders in the doors which are fantastic for kids to be able to put their drink in and easily reach them from their seats.
In the front, the storage is more standard but practical in size. With two cupholders in the central console, a good size central console box, a wireless phone charging tray and a glove box big enough for an iPad and wallet with the manual.
The front door bins hold a refillable water bottle but there is no cup holder at the top like the rear ones.
The boot of the Sorento PHEV is apparently about 12 litres smaller than the non-PHEV models, however when I did my pram and shopping testing it didn't make much of a difference. When using all seven seats it will hold five shopping bags, which is the same as the other Sorento models and comparable to the Hyundai Santa Fe that will also hold five. If you need more room, the Nissan Pathfinder, Hyundai Palisade and Toyota Kluger will hold eight bags and the Mazda CX-9 will hold seven shopping bags.
When using only five seats, the 2021 Kia Sorento PHEV will hold seventeen shopping bags, which again is the same as the non-PHEV models and comparable to the Hyundai Santa Fe that will also hold seventeen. The Hyundai Palisade will hold twenty-one, the Nissan Pathfinder will hold twenty, the Toyota Kluger will hold nineteen and the Mazda CX-9 will hold eighteen shopping bags.
A large family dog will fit nicely in the boot of the new 2021 Kia Sorento PHEV when you're only using five seats. For more detailed boot storage information see the expandable section ‘storage' below.
When it comes to charging the Sorento PHEV, we found it really nice and simple and easy.
Kia says the Sorento PHEV does around 68km to the charge on the battery; we found we got between 50-60kms with our daily driving, commute and school runs.
You can see easily on the media screen how much of your battery range is left and watch the energy flow whilst driving…
…as well as in the drivers display screen.
The media system in the Sorento PHEV is lovely and clear and simple and easy to use.
It is full of features that are great for families. Like a ‘Quiet mode' which reduces the sound from the speakers in the back and brings it to the front, this is great for when kids fall asleep in the back or they're on their devices.
‘Passenger talk' amplifies your voice from the front of the car through to the third row so you don't have to shout to be heard.
There's also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in here, which is fantastic for connecting and accessing your phone apps while you're driving.
Within the media section, there is also ‘Sounds of nature' which is white noise at your fingertips, we find it really good for getting our little ones calm and sleepy in the car. Calm ocean waves is our daughter's favourite and she falls asleep every time 😉
‘Voice memo' is handy and something I've been using with my family to record those funny conversations that you have in the car with your kids.
When you put it into reverse, the camera quality is fantastic, you have different camera views and you can turn off the parking sensors with a button down in the central console.
There is also a button down in the central console that brings up the rearview camera image when you're driving along, which is really good for increasing visibility out of the back.
There are indicator cameras that come up in the driver's display screen so you have great visibility while turning and changing lanes.
These are helpful if you are planning on having three or more child seats or passengers in the back because visibility out of the sides and back is minimal when you are fully loaded.
The Kia Sorento PHEV is a joy to drive and the transition from the nice quiet start of the battery to the engine is really nice and smooth and well executed.
The turning circle is really good in here too, not quite as good as the Kia Carnival but it is still good. Which makes it good for parking in supermarkets or school car parks and busy places like that. In summary, the plug-in hybrid model of the Kia Sorento is a fantastic seven-seater family car. You can get five child seats in the back and the third-row access is pretty good. The media system and cameras are fantastic, the drive is great and we did find the plug-in-hybrid system made it very economical.
The 2021 Kia Sorento scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating despite its lack of third-row airbags because for some reason ANCAP still does not test the third-row seats in their crash testing. EVERYONE questions the lack of third-row airbags, which is preventing it from being the ultimate family seven-seat SUV! Next time maybe Kia?!