Kia’s flagship global SUV will soon offer plug-in hybrid power, with new details announced for Europe this week.

    While not confirmed for Australia just yet, the topic of the Sorento’s electrification is expected to be “discussed further” by Kia’s local arm at the diesel model’s media launch on September 7.

    “The possibility of adding an alternative powertrain to the new Sorento range will no doubt be a popular topic at the upcoming online launch and can be discussed in detail then,” Damien Meredith, Chief Operating Officer at Kia Australia, told CarExpert.

    The 2021 Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid (or PHEV) has been detailed this week for the European market, becoming the second electrified model in the Sorento line-up overseas.

    Like the Sorento Hybrid, the PHEV teams a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and six-speed automatic with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery, although both the e-motor and battery are significantly more powerful than those in the series hybrid model.

    On its own, the 1.6-litre ‘T-GDi’ petrol generates 132kW and 265Nm – essentially a hybrid-optimised version of the engine used in the Hyundai Kona and Tucson, as well as the Kia Seltos.

    The electric motor adds 66.9kW and 304Nm, while the lithium battery has a quoted capacity of 13.8kWh.

    That compares to the regular Hybrid’s 44kW/264Nm e-motor and 1.49kWh battery pack. Kia claims the Sorento PHEV offers combined outputs of 195kW (265PS) and 350Nm, up from the Hybrid’s combined power output of 169kW. System torque is unchanged.

    While not quite as torquey as the 148kW/440Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel, the Sorento PHEV is quite close in outputs to the 3.5-litre V6 coming to Australia (200kW/332Nm).

    At this stage, the Sorento Plug-in Hybrid’s all-electric range, emissions and fuel consumption data are yet to be confirmed, as these figures are “pending homologation and will be confirmed by Kia closer to the car’s on-sale date”.

    The Korean brand does, however, indicate the Sorento PHEV should be able to “complete most short drives on electric power alone”. We’d expect a claimed EV range of around 40-50 kilometres given the Sorento’s size and battery capacity.

    Other model-specific features include an independent battery water-cooling system which is a first for Kia, while the e-motor benefits from a new two-stage lamination process for reduced NVH levels.

    Both five- and seven-seat versions of the Sorento Plug-in Hybrid will be offered in Europe, with 809L of boot space available in seven-seat models with the third row folded and 175L with them in place.

    Visually there’s little to differentiate the PHEV from the Hybrid or diesel models, bar the ‘eco plug-in’ badges and rear charge port.

    Sales of the Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid will commence in 2021 for Europe.

    We should have more information on Australian prospects for the new Sorento PHEV on September 7. Stay tuned to CarExpert for all the latest.

    Is a Sorento Hybrid or Sorento Plug-in Hybrid on your SUV wish list? Let us know in the comments

    MORE: 2021 Kia Sorento pricing and specs

    James Wong

    James Wong is the Production Editor at CarExpert based in Melbourne, Australia. With experience on both media and manufacturer sides of the industry, James has a specialty for product knowledge which stems from a life-long obsession with cars. James is a Monash University journalism graduate, an avid tennis player, and the proud charity ambassador for Drive Against Depression – an organisation that supports mental wellness through the freedom of driving and the love of cars. He's also the proud father of Freddy, a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI .

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