2023.11.24 Kia

The Evolution of the new Kia Sorento Hybrid: The Ultimate SUV

The new Sorento Hybrid, a blend of practicality and efficiency, has captured the hearts of those in search of the ideal family SUV. But it offers more than meets the eye; the standout feature of the Kia Sorento Hybrid is its hidden prowess in the world of driving.

Kia’s midsize SUV, the Sorento, carries a prestigious title and boasts immense popularity. Since its 4th‒generation release in 2020, it has maintained its position as the best‒selling midsize SUV in Korea. Moreover, it made history by becoming the first SUV to claim the title of best‒selling passenger car in Korea last year. This shift in the family car landscape from sedans to SUVs underlines the Sorento’s exceptional qualities.

The charm and outstanding value of the Sorento further matured with the introduction of the new Sorento in August this year. The most noticeable change was the incorporation of Kia’s new design philosophy, “Opposites United,” featuring the “Star Map Signature Lights” on the front and rear lamps, inspired by constellations in the night sky. The details of the lamp design and the radiator grille have also been meticulously refined, enhancing the Sorento’s rugged and dynamic image.

Furthermore, new advanced connectivity technologies, such as wireless software updates allowing continuous enhancements of vehicle systems, and the panoramic curved display offering a rich user experience, have been introduced. Safety hasn’t been overlooked either, with the addition of a 10‒airbag system, including second‒row side airbags, and structural reinforcements for the B‒pillar and front/rear doors to enhance concealed safety aspects.

And there’s more to it; The 3rd‒generation platform from Hyundai Motor Group, focusing on lightweighting, safety, and a lower center of gravity, along with the highly efficient hybrid powertrain and advanced features like the multi‒collision avoidance system introduced as early as 2020, remain intact. This ensures that an already high level of product quality is pushed even further.

One of the remarkable changes with the new Sorento is the innovative technology applied to the hybrid model. The introduction of the E‒VMC (Electrification‒Vehicle Motion Control) technology, which uses the electric motor to enhance driving dynamics and agility while offering increased comfort and practicality, has added a unique dimension to the already comfortable and efficient midsize SUV.

To understand the true value of the new Sorento Hybrid, we headed to Gangwon‒do province, South Korea, to explore various driving environments, combining both on‒road and off‒road experiences. Embarking on journeys into uncharted territories always carries an exciting thrill, and on unfamiliar paths, the new Sorento Hybrid demonstrated its unique charm.

The appeal of the new Sorento Hybrid becomes apparent the moment you venture beyond the confines of a parking lot. It effortlessly departs the tranquil parking area, with only the gentle hum of the electric motor and the rolling of the wheels, without rousing the 1.6‒liter gasoline turbo engine from its slumber. The upgraded 47.7kW electric motor exhibits a noticeable presence, whether it’s navigating congested city streets or confidently cruising on the highway. With a sufficient battery charge, it can run on the highway like an electric vehicle. The broad operating range of the hybrid electric motor leaves an impression. We found ourselves appreciating the remarkable efficiency of hybrid models, understanding why so many consumers choose hybrid SUVs.

With the transformation into the new Sorento, suspension improvements and optimization of bushing components to reduce road noise and minimize vibration were performed. The result was enhanced ride comfort and improved handling stability, particularly noticeable when traversing highways. The new Sorento demonstrated significantly reduced vertical movement when crossing road irregularities, creating a sedan‒like feel of suspension fine‒tuning. With this, coupled with the hybrid model’s quietness, driving on the highway was both stable and cozy.

One of the technologies contributing to the enhanced ride comfort in the new Sorento Hybrid is E‒Ride, integrated into the E‒VMC system. E‒Ride controls the output of the hybrid electric motor to suppress the phenomenon where the car rocks due to tire and suspension movement and sudden changes in the center of gravity when passing over speed bumps. It also includes control logic that reduces the front‒end lift when accelerating. Thanks to the well‒tuned chassis and a harmonious blend of these technologies, the ride comfort felt more like a well‒balanced sedan, even in various scenarios where ride comfort could be compromised.

As we embarked on the winding mountain path towards our destination, the thrill of conquering sharp turns and serpentine roads unfolded before us. We switched the driving mode to Sport mode, utilizing the potent combination of the spirited gasoline turbo engine and the electric motor to tackle the rapidly approaching curvy terrain. Then, the concealed charms of the new Sorento Hybrid began to surface.

Just moments before entering a corner, we swiftly reduced our speed, and in those critical seconds, we made use of the smart regenerative braking system, which can be adjusted using paddle shifters. This innovative feature, which was introduced for the first time in the new Sorento Hybrid, allows you to control the intensity of regenerative braking in four different levels (LV 0 to LV 3). Sporty driving often requires rapid deceleration, leading to quick brake wear. The regenerative braking offers a helping hand in such situations.

In the thrilling world of winding roads with the new Sorento Hybrid, another technology shines, and it’s called E‒Handling ‒ another feature of E‒VMC. This system comes into play during corner entry and exit by manipulating the torque from the electric motor to balance the load between the front and rear wheels, increasing traction and enhancing both agility and stability. As you enter a corner, the system controls motor torque to increase the load on the front wheels, thereby enhancing steering responsiveness. When exiting a corner, it uses motor torque to boost acceleration, increasing rear wheel grip for improved cornering stability.

Feeling the effects of these driving assistance technologies in person, can be challenging. Moreover, attributing the enhanced cornering performance of the new Sorento Hybrid to a single technology isn’t quite accurate. It’s the harmonious interplay of multiple elements, along with the previously mentioned chassis enhancements, which results in a noticeable change in driving experience. What truly matters is that driving the new Sorento Hybrid immerses you in a richer, more engaging experience.

Even when navigating unpaved roads, the joy bestowed by the new Sorento Hybrid lingers. This SUV’s refined exterior may make you think it’s meant for smooth city streets, but its essence, the ability to handle rough terrain, is still deeply rooted in the Sorento’s DNA. It effortlessly absorbs minor vibrations from uneven surfaces and smoothly handles larger shocks that occasionally cause the body to jolt. Being a hybrid model doesn’t change a thing.

The new Sorento Hybrid doesn’t just showcase its advantages in everyday driving; it’s also an SUV that brings unexpected driving enjoyment, an adventurous spirit ever ready for exploration, and a spacious, comfortable cabin suitable for various needs. With the new Sorento Hybrid, you can anticipate a more dynamic and diversified daily life.

The distinction between what you can’t do due to limitations and what you can experience anew is enormous, and the new Sorento Hybrid falls into the latter category. This model opens up a world of possibilities, turning your everyday routine into a realm of exciting adventures with its remarkable versatility as an SUV. Embark on a journey of challenge and exploration with the new Sorento Hybrid; it undoubtedly promises to enrich your daily life with new experiences and tastes.

Photography by Kim Beom‒seok 

Video by Woo Yong‒sik

HMG Journal Operation Team


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